Course Decisions

Introduction

Whether you're transitioning from school or TAFE, upskilling, returning to study or re-thinking your course selection as a current university student, choosing the right course can seem like an impossible task.

Did you know more than 30% of students change their course because they weren't clear about what they really wanted to study?

This unit is designed to build on your findings from the Self Understanding module by further exploring your course and career ideas, to help you make an informed choice about which course to choose.

Some facts about careers

  • In the modern world of work people may have multiple job roles in multiple sectors.
  • Very few people these days will have a 'job for life' as your parents or grandparents may have had.
  • It's not all about the degree - a degree in isolation will not guarantee you a job, it's more about the package you present.
  • The package you present may include: education (degree and short courses), part-time work experiences, career-relevant work experiences, professional memberships and industry involvement, extra-curricular involvement, transferable skills, industry knowledge, and attitude.

Your course is designed to equip you with some of these skills and the Employability Team is there to help you develop a good package, in addition to the skills and opportunities you create for yourself.

Starting To Explore Interests and Ideas

What is self-reflection?

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In order to explore our course and career interests we need to reflect on who we are and where our interests lie. From here we can explore these interest ideas further, while being mindful of our skills, temperament, personal style, influences and goals.

How do I do it?

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As we learnt in the Self Understanding module there are many influences in our lives that shape our interests.

For this reason our individual course choice journey may start from a number of points; everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to start your research process.

For example:

  • You have enjoyed a particular subject at school and want to explore what courses are available in that area.
  • You may have a strong interest in a certain occupation and want to understand which education pathways will take you there.
  • You may be interested in a particular industry or field.
  • You may want to work for a specific employer/organisation.

Why bother?

why bother banner

It is important to capture these interests and then explore how they may translate into a career plan.

If you are interested in science, for example, and find a course that is of interest to you it is also important to understand what the potential career outcomes may be on graduation.

Questions to ask yourself could be:

  • Who would you work for?
  • What industry sector?
  • What personal characteristics, complementary skills and experiences would you need to develop to be successful in that role?

How will it help me achieve my goals?

achieve my goals banner

By reflecting on what you have learnt about yourself in the self-awareness phase you can assess how well these options match your interests, values and personality.

If you need help identifying your skills, go to 'Build your free profile' at myfuture.edu.au and complete the skills assessment.

  • Activity - Exploring Your Interests

    Try and think of as many interests as possible and document your interests in the table below.

    Even if you have discounted an occupation for some reason, for the purposes of this exercise, it is important to include it especially if there are certain aspects of it that still appeal to you.

    For example, you may have rejected law because you've heard lawyers work very long hours and it gets very stressful. However, not all law students want to become lawyers and there may be other occupations better suited to these students that require an understanding of the law. So, keep an open mind!

    Study Areas Occupations Industry Sectors Employers

Strategies to Explore Your Interests

Woman thinking with light bulb above head

Study

How would you start investigating a course?

  • Understand the academic demands of the course
    This includes finding answers to questions such as: entry requirements; subjects covered; and the structure of the course, for example - choice of electives, assessment and opportunities for work integrated learning.

  • Find out what assumed knowledge there is
    While some UQ courses may have specific pre-requisites, others have assumed knowledge. This means we assume you have a certain level of knowledge of certain subjects to cope with a course. While it’s possible to study the course without the assumed knowledge, you may find it harder to complete the study requirements.

  • Don't ignore any unanswered questions
    • Visit UQ Answers to find answers to questions you may have about studying at UQ. 
    • Talk to your lecturer, school or faculty about course-specific questions.
    • Not sure who to ask?  Email the New2UQ Team for help.

Remember, exploring more than one research option can give you an even deeper understanding into a particular course if you need it.

Choosing Majors and Minors

Look at the course information in detail, in order to make decisions on majors and minors. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What majors / minors are possible?
  • What is contained in each of them?
  • What are some comparisons?
  • Where do they lead?

Your school’s Academic Advisor can also help with this.

Further Information

Look at the following links to gain more insight into career outcomes for each course.

Other useful websites include:

  • Activity 1 - Exploring Your Course Interests

    Explore your course interests and enter them into this table.

    Course #1

    Course/Major Past Entry Cut
    Off OP/Rank
    Other entry requirements Positives Negatives Career outcomes to research

    Course #2

    Course/Major Past Entry Cut Off OP/Rank Other entry requirements Positives Negatives Career outcomes to research

    Course #3

    Course/Major Past Entry Cut Off OP/Rank Other entry requirements Positives Negatives Career outcomes to research

    Course #4

    Course/Major Past Entry Cut Off OP/Rank Other entry requirements Positives Negatives Career outcomes to research



Job / occupational interests

man thinking and a speech bubble

At this stage of the module you should have a few ideas regarding some occupations of interest to you.

If you are still struggling to generate ideas, the following websites can help you make connections between your subject interests and career outcomes:

You don’t need to decide on a specific occupation at this stage, but rather get an idea of the breadth of opportunities related to a course you are considering.  

The Explore Careers section on myfuture.edu.au will give you essential information about occupations you may be interested in.

  • Activity 2 - Exploring Your Occupational Interests

    Use each table to further explore your top 3 occupational interests using the Explore Careers (Browse Occupations) section on myfuture.edu.au.

    1

    Related job Positives Negatives Further research required?
    (Yes/No) If Yes, what?


    2

    Related job Positives Negatives Further research required?
    (Yes/No) If Yes, what?


    3

    Related job Positives Negatives Further research required?
    (Yes/No) If Yes, what?



Industry sector

For industry information, see:

You can also go directly to employer websites, or use LinkedIn to search by occupation title for relevant professional associations, employers, and career paths.

For example, if you are interested in the health sector:

Woman thinking
  • Think of the variety of employment opportunities!

    The Queensland Health website provides a list of careers, from Medical Engineers to Human Resources staff or check out www.myhealthcareer.com.au.

  • Compare and contrast

    Look at a range of health service providers such as public and private hospitals, allied health providers, the defence force etc.

  • Consider other industries

    Where do people need health care? This may link back to your interests - sport, aid agencies or even Everest base camp!

Don't underestimate the power of Google in this exercise!



Employer interests

If you have an interest in a particular employer, have a look at their website, their LinkedIn page, or Google them and see what you discover.

If you are unsure of which employers are in the field of interest to you, the following websites list those employers who pro-actively recruit university graduates:

graduateopportunities logo unigrad.com.au logo

Job search sites

Look at 10-15 current job advertisements for occupations of interest to you, to gain insight into what skills and qualifications employers are looking for.

There are numerous recruitment sites available online, such as:

Description: seek.com.au logo   careerone.com.au logo

Other sources of vacancies include newspapers, employer and recruitment agency websites, LinkedIn, and some professional/industry journals.

Corporate responsibility

You may want to locate an employer with specific morals and goals, for example, one that is environmentally sustainable or has diversity values and policies. The following sites may help you:

Description: graduateopportunites.com corporate ethics logo Description: graduateopportunites.com diversity logo

  • Activity 3 - Exploring Your Industry Interests

    List 3 industry sectors that interest you, ideas about companies that you could research in that industry, and who you could ask for further help, e.g. family and friends who work in the industry.

    Industry Companies to Research Who can you ask for help?


Further research suggestions

Online

Australian Jobs is an annual government publication that provides national and state level information on labour market trends, detailing such things as skills shortage professions, industry profiles, along with a job prospects matrix.

Attending events

Throughout the year there are a number of careers expos and events you can attend to help with your research.

You may like to consider:

Refer to the Careers Fairs Fact Sheet for how to make the most of some of the above events. 

So get out there and start talking to people!

Talking to people

Finding someone to talk to based on your career interests, specific industries, companies, or a particular role will help in your research.

You can hear about someone else's experience of the occupation or industry you are interested in - the good and the not so good aspects of the work, the realities of the industry and advice about how to get a foot in the door.

Think about:

  • Everyone you know - do they do something you would like to do? If not, do they know someone who does what you are planning to do, or can they give you contact details of someone in the department that interests you?
  • Businesses near where you live? Why not call or email them and ask the manager if you can have a chat with them, about what they and their business do, to help you with your career research?
  • The companies you discovered in your research - why not approach them directly to ask for help with your career research?

This is called information interviewing. Learn more about it from this short video:



Experience the working environment

Having the chance to gain some real world experience will not only help you get clearer about whether the industry, company or role is a good match for you, but it will also look good on your resume to potential employers.

You may have a few ideas about where you'd like to gain a few days experience. If not, ask friends and family for help locating someone who works in the industry you want to try, or check out the UQ Professional Experience Showcase.

Check the myAdvisor website about insurance options if you do decide to do some work experience.


Action Planning

There are probably a few things you now need to do before you complete your QTAC application and make a successful transition into university.

  • What do you now need to do to achieve your goal? This includes the information you are missing to make an informed choice, the people you need to speak to and work experience possibilities.
  • Also, what if Plan A does not work? What are plans B and C?

These terms below will help you complete the activity:

Plan A: Your first choice of degree and career path
Plan B: An alternative pathway to achieve ultimate career goals
Action required: What you need to do / the additional information you need to find / people you need to talk to
Short term goal: What you need to accomplish your QTAC application
Medium term goal: What you need to accomplish by the end of week 3 at uni
Long term goal: What you need to accomplish before graduation
  • Activity - Developing Action Plans

    Plan A

    Description



    Short term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

    Medium term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

    Long term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

    Plan B

    Description



    Short term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

    Medium term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

    Long term goal

    Action required Deadline
    1
    2
    3

Decision Making

To Do list

Review the decision making checklist below to help you make a decision:

If you've done all your research and are still struggling, remember it’s not a decision for life, you can change your mind so why not choose the course that suits your self-assessment profile the best and give it a go?

If you are a UQ student and really can't decide then make an appointment with a career advisor to discuss your options.