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PAUL AIKEN
CU-Boulder alumni have advice for students’ majors and career paths

5 signs you should change your major

1. You’re bored: if you’re dozing off in class, it might not be the right major.

2. Your grades suck: if your lowest grades are in majors courses, you’ll likely struggle with the career.

3. You didn’t give it much thought: if you chose your major hastily, put some more thought into it.

3. You keep asking about other majors: You should be talking about yours, not theirs.

3. You can’t let the idea go: don’t be afraid to make a change.

Source: youngmoney.com/careers/career-advice

University of Colorado alumna Christine Lazette found her professional niche shortly after graduating with her bachelor’s in marketing in 2000.

Lazette took a job working at Victoria’s Secret to make ends meet, while she searched for her dream job in marketing. A few months in, Lazette had been promoted to manager and realized she had a knack for retail.

“When I realized I enjoyed retail, I had planned on sticking to it,” Lazette said. “That was the new career goal.”

But 10 years into her career, Lazette found herself longing for the marketing position she dreamed about in college.

Lea Alvarado, alumni career counselor at CU’s Career Services said, like Lazette, many alumni find themselves searching for a job transition years — or even decades — into their professional careers.

“I’ve met with hundreds of alumns who, the majority of them, are in some kind of career transition,” Alvarado said. “They’re unhappy where they are and want to transition into something else that’s more fulfilling and more fitting.”

Lazette said experience, along with networking and an internship, led her to her current job as an account coordinator with Location3 Media in downtown Denver.

“I think having gone through 10 years of career already, I’ve evolved as a person,” Lazette said. “I bring a lot of really good skills to the plate now.”

While some alumni start fresh in search of the right career, Alvarado said students have the unique opportunity to discover their direction, before graduation, through trying different classes, informational interviews and internships.

“The experience they get,” Alvarado said, “the more prepared they are and clear … about the direction best for them.”

Students have the advantage of using classes to help discover their interests for future jobs. However, switching majors can also slow them down.

About 37 percent of students graduating in fiscal year 2010, left CU with a degree different from their first declared major, according to university records.

Incoming freshman Hannah Howard has already declared environmental studies as her major and said she said she plans to stick with it.

She said she doesn’t know what kind of job she wants after she graduates, but she’s hoping her classes will help narrow her options.

CU junior Stefan Gomez changed his major twice before declaring history, and then added film as a second major after taking a class he enjoyed.

“I am stuck with my majors now,” Gomez said. “It’s too late to switch again. I’m already going to have to take an extra semester or two before graduating because I switched so much. So this is it.”

Alvarado said it’s usually easier for students to spend time discovering their path in college than waiting until graduation.

Luke Clarke graduated from CU with his journalism degree in 1976 and said he never changed majors.

In 2009, Clarke lost his job as a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News — which closed its doors due to financial hardships — and started his career transition in his 50s.

“I was looking for a new challenge,” Clarke said. “I’d been working for newspapers since college, so the thought of ‘Can I do something else?’ was stimulating.”

Clarke worked for various non-profits and volunteered for the next year and a half before taking his current job as a communications consultant for Kaiser Permanente.

Clarke said whether a student, graduate or longtime alumni, a career move often requires a little backtracking. Networking was key for Clarke, he said.

His advice to students and recent graduates: “accept the changes and move with them.”

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