Choosing a major can be one of the hardest decisions a young professional can make in their life. It is essentially the decision that will decide his/her career, right? Not necessarily. Today we are seeing that over 80% of people in today’s workforce are in career fields unrelated to their majors. So why is this? Is it possible that we are choosing our majors for the wrong reasons? Are we changing our goals along the way? Or could it be we are not prepared to make a decision like that at the age of 18? Maybe it is all of the above and then some more.
Although there is no right answer, there are things that should be considered along the way. When thinking about choosing/changing a major, think more about what the major offers, rather than what it is! The transferable skills and professional experiences will be the reason you get the job, not the major. Below are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Picking a major does NOT limit your career options
No matter what the major is, completing an undergraduate degree helps you develop depth of a field, and encourages critical thinking. Students develop transferable skills in any major, but taking advantage of internship opportunities will help broaden your career options and professional network. There is no rule that says you have to become what you majored in, don’t limit yourself!
2. Picking a Major ≠ Picking a Career
There are a few careers that are major specific like engineering, nursing, and education. These are careers that mostly consist of registered or licensed professionals, but when you look at other majors this is not that case. Think about it! When you major in nursing, you are most likely going to be a nurse, but what about if you majored in communications? How would you even define one specific career title? You can’t, and that is because there is not one. The opportunities are huge, and the skills you gained can be utilized in a variety of different paths.
3. Pick a major based off your interests
You all know the saying, “Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.” Although it may be cliché, it is absolutely true! When you pick a major based off your interest you will most likely be more excited and passionate about your career. Your expertise in the areas may also help you succeed.
4. Pick a major for the right reasons! Do your research
There are many aspects to think about when you choose/change a major. Whether it is financial, interest based, or what your parents want, it is important to look at each one carefully and decided what is most important to you. If you are struggling to decide, talk to an advisor as well as professionals in the field. With all the choices available, research provides you with information that may help you pick off which majors are not for you, and get you on a path to discovering what works.
5. Pick a major that fulfills your professional goals
What do you want to get out of this major? I bet you have already considered salary of a career that typically comes out of your major, but have you thought about what the major actually entails. Each major has its own guidelines and curriculum that is specific to each field. Looking into what the major offers can be a benefit for your professional goals. Below are some examples of professional goals; be sure to factor these into your decision.
o Has built in internships into the curriculum
o Research opportunities
o Has a clinical structured into the requirements
o Provides leadership opportunities
o Offers hands on learning
o Travel is an option t replace a class
For more information, check out the page Does Major = Career.
Also, check out this blog post from the Campus Career Coach “What Can I Do with my Major?”
By: Samantha Kuehl