Career Services Center
Holthusen Hall, First Floor
1324 W. Wisconsin Avenue
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
Phone: (414) 288-7423
Fax: (414) 288-5302
E-mail | Staff Directory
So far you have made decisions related to various facets of life. You have decided which university to attend, what classes to take, and where to live. Similarly, making career decisions such as selecting a major, choosing which internship, first job, post-graduate service, or graduate/professional school to pursue involves obtaining appropriate information and being aware of the numerous factors that may influence your decision. The information below is designed to help you examine how you currently make decisions and offers several approaches to making future decisions.
Setting career goals helps shape and direct your college experience.
To make sound decisions it is important to gather enough information to evaluate your options. You can Research Your Options with objective sources, conduct and informational interview and also Network, Volunteer, Become a Leader, and get a Part-time Job or internship to collect more direct information.
Confidence in decision-making abilities comes from having made successful decisions in the past. Think about the positive decisions you have made already. How did you make those decisions? What resources helped guide you through your decision-making process?
Support and influence from family and friends can have a big effect on your decisions, especially for significant decisions that may impact the important people in your life.
Consider how your options are compatible with your values, interests and abilities. An example could be: "My previous experience as a student teacher has confirmed my interests in becoming a teacher. Plus, having the summers off will allow me to spend more time with my family." You may need to clarify your interests, skills, and values.
The number of desirable options is often a factor. People with many interests and abilities find decision-making difficult because they believe they will have to sacrifice appealing options. Those with undefined interests find decision-making difficult as well because none of the options appear attractive.
Reality Check Remember that you are not alone in the decision-making process. If you want help working through one or more of these decision-making models, or if the outcome of using one of the models is confounding or surprising, make an appointment with a Career counselor.
Pros & Cons Model
On a piece of paper, write down the decision you are considering making. Write it as if you had already made the decision (for example, "Accept the XYZ Company job offer in Chicago.")
Divide the piece of paper into two columns, with "Pros" at the top of one column. Write down the outcomes of the decision that you believe are positive.
In the "Cons" column, write down the outcomes of the decision that are negative or less desirable.
In the course of writing down your pros and cons, you will probably notice that there are some outcomes that are uncertain or are too hard to predict. Write these outcomes down on a separate piece of paper.
Conduct Research about the outcomes that you are unsure about, then add those to the Pro or Con column.
For the outcomes that are simply too hard to predict, you might want to talk with other people to get their input or opinions. If possible, evaluate if the outcome is a pro or con and add that to your table.
As you begin to complete the table, it may become clearer if the decision you are considering is advisable.
Note: Some outcomes carry more weight than others, so the number of pros and cons in each column is not necessarily indicative of whether or not you should move forward with the decision.
Analytical Decision-Making Worksheet
Use the career services' handout on Decision-Making Process (PDF) (Word) to help you evaluate which of your options may be the best for you based on your values. The worksheet takes you through an analytical approach to comparing up to three options.
Imaginative, Visualization Exercise
If you are more of an intuitive decision-maker, you may prefer this imaginative exercise. You may want to have a friend or a career counselor lead you through the visualization, or you may just want to read through the exercise and imagine on your own.
Find a quiet, calming place to close your eyes and relax as you imagine...
You are walking along a path...it could be in the woods, on a beach, in a valley...whichever is your favorite place in nature. As you walk along feel the air around you...notice the smells...be conscious of the sounds...take note of any plants or vegetation around and what the path feels like under your feet...
Ahead you notice the path divides in two different directions. You take the first pathway that represents the first option you are considering. As you go down that path, experience that option. Try it on fully. How does it make you feel in your body...your heart...your mind? Notice everything inside you and outside you and what is happening...
Walk back to the fork in the path and try the other pathway that leads to your second option. Experience that option fully. How does it feel to experience this option?
Walk back again to the fork in the path. You suddenly see a third path that you had not been able to see before. You take the path and experience a solution you had not thought of before. What is it? What does it feel like?
Return back to the fork and then back down to where you originally started. You feel clear about something from these experiences. You take a deep breath, open your eyes, and come back to the present to write about your observations.
Write down your responses to the following questions: