…But How Do I Make The Right Choice?

It’s that time of year – you’re starting to hear back from volunteer sites, research opportunities, graduate schools, or internship/job applications. Now that you know what your possibilities are, how do you decide which one to pursue?

Making big decisions is challenging because it involves taking risks and giving up a degree of control. Although it’s tempting to delay making a decision until the last possible moment, decision making is a highly sought-after skill by employers. Learning how to make decisions, and make them confidently, will benefit you throughout your life – and you can learn how to be a better decision maker.

  1. Shift your mindset. Don’t focus on making the “right” or “wrong” decision; instead, think about the process in terms of making the best decision for you right now. Employ the concept of radical acceptance – there are opportunities for growth and learning in every experience.
  2. Identify the decision. Set your parameters and conditions. For example, “I will decide which opportunity I will accept for an experience this summer”. You’re clearly defining both the decision (an experience) and the conditions (this summer).
  3. Collect information. This includes basic information, as well as listing the values and goals that may be a factor in your decision confidence. Using the previous example, list out your choices (part-time employment, a research experience, or an internship). Then, list any other considerations and identify the weight they carry for YOU in this moment: self-care (relax and reset), financial contributions, related to concentration or future goals, etc.
  4. Evaluate the options. Consider the information you’ve collected and ask yourself other questions. “Is there more information I’m not considering?”, “Am I exhibiting a bias towards one option over another?” are a good start. Sometimes a pro/con list can be helpful as well.
  5. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Plain and simple. Make time for self-reflection, but don’t go down the path of analysis paralysis or decision fatigue.
  6. Make a choice. If you need to ask for help, absolutely do so! Career advisors are great resources, as are trusted friends, family, faculty, or mentors.
  7. Take action. Implement your decision. This may involve notifying appropriate supervisors or departments. It also could look like finalizing travel or living arrangements, etc. Recognize that this decision is final. Make time to reflect during and after the experience to keep your confidence in your decision high.

Looking for more help? Make an appointment with one of our career advisors via Crimson Careers.

Are you looking for more specific information on job offers? View our Managing Offers & Decisions guide or recorded webinar.

By Katie Fell
Katie Fell Assistant Director, Harvard College Still Deciding, Exploring, & Self-Assessment