Here’s Why Your Impractical Major Will Be Worth It Down The Road
When you went off to college and told your family about your newly chosen major, you probably received one of two reactions: “That’s great, honey!” or “Oh… what are you planning to do with that?” Some majors are considered less “practical” than others — take a musical theater degree versus an engineering degree, for example. Coming into the workforce after earning your diploma and not finding any jobs in your field is an even worse feeling than dealing with your dad’s skepticism of your choices in the first place. But we’re here to tell you that all hope is not lost, even if you’ve been avidly job searching for a few years now. Your “impractical” major is still going to be worth your time, and it is worth your time now, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Here’s why.
1. You’re not alone in this situation. (In fact, you’re in the majority.)
According to a recent United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report, only 3.6 percent of college graduates are unemployed. That means that the other 96.4 percent of college grads are employed, which should put your mind even slightly at ease. What’s even crazier is that only 27 percent of college grads have jobs in the fields they majored in. All these people may not be living the dream, but they’re getting bills paid, and that’s a good start.
2. You’re likely gaining a special type of enrichment.
You’ve chosen to follow your passion, and for that, you have to feel pretty damn good. Maybe your dream isn’t working out right now, but spending the majority of your day doing something you love (or pursuing something you love) is time well spent. Call us out for being woo-woo, but there’s a reason why, time and time again, you hear stories about that hedge fund manager who dropped a well-paying career to go a run popcorn shop in Lake Placid. The point is that your passions don’t just go away, and sometimes, making a ton of money won’t fulfill you the way pursuing your dreams can.
3. You were exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking.
To continue with the earlier example, it’s no surprise that someone with a theater degree thinks differently and learned differently from someone with an engineering degree. And you might believe that your expertise and training is narrow and pigeonholed to that particular field, but, in reality, you could have an unusual perspective that few people come across. In other words, what you’ve learned about the world through your major could make a huge impact with the people you meet.
4. You have an edge as a job candidate.
Your unique perspective and point of view could actually help you score some jobs. For example, if you were an art major in college and you’re applying to be the arts editor of a magazine, you may have more pull having experience and knowledge of the arts versus having a ton of writing clips. Inversely, think about the basic skills your degree gave you that can be translated to other jobs. Maybe you were a fashion major in college and you’re applying for an entry-level marketing position. You could easily connect your prior training or internship experience learning about the manufacturing and selling process for a variety of products.
Some extra tips on how to to make your major marketable with other jobs:
1. Tap into your alumni network. Reach out to some alums who hold the same degree as you and ask to chat with them about how they made it work for them. If you can, ask your department heads to point you in the direction of some particularly successful alums. Just make sure you talk to a handful of them to gain multiple perspectives.
2. Be involved in a variety of projects and after-work activities. If your current company allows you to participate in projects not directly related to your work, take advantage of the opportunity, especially if it’s a stepping stone to a job in which you can pursue your passion. If that’s not possible, look for groups outside of work where you can use your passion. Network with individuals in those groups and you might just find that lucky connection that could lead to your dream job. Hey, it’s worth trying, right?
3. When all else fails, take a certificate program or seminar that will broaden your skillset without diminishing your major. Committing to a certificate program or seminar that helps you look more versatile is a great investment. You’ll be able to build upon what you learned in your major rather than go in a completely different direction. Choose to study or get involved in something that could complement your degree, like a business certificate or technical writing program.
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