“What Are You Doing With Your Life?” 5 Ways to Answer When You’re Not Sure

Spring Break is right around the corner! If your plans include seeing your family, chances are they’ll ask what you plan to do after graduation. When you’re not quite sure or are still weighing options, this can be a stressful question to answer.

Taking time to explore is actually a really smart approach to planning your future! Consider the following strategies for helping family see the value of active career exploration:

1. Explain the value of self-assessment: Knowing your values, interests, and personality will help you evaluate your fit with potential career paths (as well as sell yourself to potential employers down the road). Share the results of your career assessments with your family. Haven’t taken one yet? You can access several assessments via FOCUS2 online to get you started!

2. Explore together: Log on to the ASK Network and browse the platform with your family. As you read the career profiles of our volunteer alumni mentors, discuss what seems interesting and not so interesting about the paths they’ve taken. Make a plan to follow up with the mentors that intrigue you the most.

3. Ask about their exploration: Have an impromptu informational interview by asking friends and family to share their own career path. How did they end up where they are and what other options did they consider or try along the way?

4. Shift the conversation to skills: Family may be surprised to learn that 9 of the top 10 attributes sought by employers are transferable skills like communication, problem solving, and the ability to work as part of a team. These are things that are woven throughout the undergraduate experience regardless of your major. By building these skills you’re preparing yourself for success across industries.

5. Let them see your progress: Sometimes your family just wants to know that you’re setting yourself up for success. By letting them know that you’re tapping into the resources here at DePaul, you’ll help them gain insight into your approach to exploration. Tell them about your recent appointment with an exploration advisor. If you haven’t done this yet, make an appointment with us today!

Happy Exploring!

Hilarie Longnecker & Ed Childs
Exploration Career Community Advisors

Career Research Advice for English Majors

By: Miranda Malinowski, DePaul University English major ‘20

College can be a confusing and overwhelming time, especially during the first year. As students, there is a lot for us to think about—including the one looming question; how do we figure out what we’re supposed to do with the rest of our lives? Some of us working toward our degree in English already know the answer to that last question. There are some of us, however, who are still trying to figure out what type of career an English degree can provide us, and which specific profession will suit us best.

This career journey can sometimes feel overwhelming due to the endless opportunities an English degree offers. We may find ourselves asking, “Well, what’s going to offer the most money?” However, more importantly, perhaps we should be asking ourselves, “What is going to make me look forward to going to work in the morning?” Key questions you can ask yourself are the ones that pertain to your strengths, weaknesses, passions, etc. Aside from individual reflection, you can lean on resources available to you—including this What Can I Do With a Major in English chart—to further explore career opportunities in English.

Ed Childs, career advisor for DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, offered some insight on the topic, “…I would suggest, to all students, if they want to do some exploration…create a LinkedIn account, and use that [platform] as a way to explore what kind of careers [they] can attain with an English degree…” According to Ed, the advantage of doing career research via LinkedIn is that you develop a realistic sense of how people actually got into their field. LinkedIn is a great mechanism to help demystify the many paths to success and it serves as a tool to connect you with people who potentially have your dream job.

The search for potential careers doesn’t stop there. Ed suggests networking by attending DePaul career fairs to interact with employers who are actively seeking creative employees. Another resource offered by DePaul is Alumni Sharing Knowledge or ASK. ASK is a phenomenal tool that you can utilize to interact and network with DePaul alumni who share similar majors and interests. Ed suggests using ASK to develop a better understanding of the widespread applications associated with a major. As an English major, your degree is applicable in more ways than you can imagine. By connecting with alumni, you can develop a clearer picture of where your degree can take you.

Regardless of which resources you use, you’re bound to expand your knowledge on your chosen degree and future work possibilities. Remember, the Career Center is here to help you hone in on a profession that suits you best. Stop by the Career Center to set up an advising appointment and start your English career journey today.

8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Teaching Abroad

By: Samantha Ng, College of Computing and Digital Media Admissions Officer and Former Career Center Grad Intern

Postgraduate planning involves a myriad of difficult decisions that will lead you down new and exciting paths; paths that may even take you abroad. One great opportunity to consider post-grad is teaching English abroad. When it comes to relocating to a different country, however, there are certain questions you should ask yourself to determine if you’re ready for this type of career path. Before you embark on this journey, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.

Am I up for the challenge?

You should first dig deep and ask yourself this: is teaching really your interest and passion, or is this really more about traveling and immersion, coupled with time to think more about what to do later? Also, keep in mind that moving to a new country comes with many challenges. Depending on the teaching program, you may receive minimal support when it comes to housing arrangements, adjusting to local culture, overcoming language barriers, etc. However, there are also many programs out there that will pick you up from the airport, provide an orientation for new teachers, set up housing, etc. The level of support desired or independence required is important to consider when applying for different jobs.

Am I willing to pay for a program?

There are generally two routes you can take: find a program that places you in a school, which sometimes requires a fee; or, find a teaching job on your own that provides compensation. Oftentimes, the programs that require a fee are non-profit organizations and sometimes include some sort of teaching certification. However, there are many teaching abroad programs that do not require fees or search sites that can help people find jobs abroad.

Can I afford to teach abroad?

There will most likely be some upfront costs when it comes to teaching abroad. This may include the flights, passports and visa(s) (if applicable), accommodations, health insurance, or a teaching certificate. When considering teaching abroad, do not forget to consider the initial costs you may have to pay.

Do I want to save money or am I willing to break even?

For programs that provide compensation, teachers will either earn savings or break even. In many countries, teachers will receive large compensations, and even housing and airfare. In Asian countries like Thailand, China, and Korea, where the cost of living is cheaper, teachers can earn some savings. However, some European countries like Paris, Spain and Turkey where the cost of living is much higher, teachers are more likely to break even in those locations.

Will I take a certification course?

Many schools and institutions look for their teachers to be qualified in TEFL/TESOL/CELTA. There are online and in-person options for these certifications. These courses will provide you with a better understanding and set of skills in teaching English as a foreign language. The certification can range from $1,000 USD (online) to $3,000 USD (in-person). While there are many programs/schools that do not require a certification, it can help position you as a more competitive candidate, especially if you do not have an education background.

How long do I want to live abroad?

Every teaching program has different placement commitments. Some programs require at least a one academic year contract, while others have weekly or monthly options. Consider different factors (i.e. family, finances, holidays, etc.) in deciding how long you want to live in a foreign country.

Where will I live if I go abroad?

Some schools and companies will provide housing for their teachers. These may be single apartments or shared. However, for some teaching jobs, you may be responsible for finding your own accommodations. Many countries have similar websites like Craigslist that may help with your apartment search.

What do I know about the destination?

Before embarking on a journey to a whole new country, it’s important that you do some research on the culture, food, local customs, laws, safety issues, etc. Since you will be immersing yourself into a new lifestyle, it’s essential that you become familiar with the surroundings in which you will live and work. Some initial research may even get you more excited for what’s to come.

I sat down with Career Advisor Ed Childs to talk teaching and moving abroad. Here are a few top questions he will often raise during advising appointments:

  • Have you explored alumni with first-hand experiences in these target areas?
  • Have you reviewed the skills developed from students and alumni who have worked abroad to help give you ideas for your own guidance?
  • Have you considered augmenting your pay with private tutoring, tours, and restaurant work, or remote freelance work?
  • Would you create a vlog/blog or utilize photo/film equipment while abroad as a potential independent study, or for credit in a grad program?
  • Have you explored grad programs with working abroad built into the curriculum?

Navigating these questions can be tough, but remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Stop by the Study Abroad Office or schedule a chat with Ed at the Career Center to talk about teaching and exploring abroad!