Kaitlin Luna is a Student Affairs and Higher Education professional with six years (and counting) of experience working with college students as a career and academic advisor. Kaitlin is passionate about career development and is particularly knowledgeable about the job search, social networking, personal branding and interview preparation. You can tweet her @KaitlinLuna or find her on LinkedIn.
Choosing a college major is the first major decision of a young person’s life. It’s an exciting, confusing and a sometimes unwelcomed experience. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as you weigh options or fear making the wrong decision. Suddenly, you are making a decision that will dictate the rest of your life, right? Wrong.
There is an old wives tale that persists generation after generation, that your major will dictate career options after college. The truth is that the experiences you gain in college through internships, jobs, and student leadership are far better indicators of future job employment. Of course there are always exceptions. For example, someone who wants to be a Civil Engineer would need to pursue a degree in engineering to gain the necessary education to enter that field. Similarly, if Accounting is your forte, a degree in Accounting would allow you to enter the profession.
If your interests and aptitudes are more in line with a liberal arts degree (think history, economics, English, political science, etc.), then go get that degree! The skills embedded within the liberal arts curriculum are exactly what employer’s value. For example, you will gain desirable skills in communication, problem solving, time management, working with others, writing, research and presentational speaking. These are skills that will allow you to enter and thrive in the world of work.
Getting back to those other experiences that will shape your employability after college:
Internships: Complete an internship for college credit to explore the field or fields that interest you. If college credit isn’t available, an internship can boost your resume and help you redirect your career path. Have an honest discussion with yourself about what you would hope to gain from an internship and then discuss your goals with your internship site. Request opportunities for increased responsibilities and specific measures that are needed to accomplish that goal. An internship is about much more then memorizing the professional staffs coffee orders. An internship, if done right, is about provingyour work ethic and value to a group of people, who could be the connection you need to land a job.
Jobs: That job that you are working to get yourself through college counts and the connections you make there do too. No job is too little or easy to constitute as irrelevant to your employability after college. Restaurant hosts and hostesses, for example, manage the arrangement and seating of hundreds of guests to ensure the best customer service and the equal distribution of customers for servers. That requires organization, planning and communication skills. Underlying theme, there is value in every work experience you have.
Leadership and Involvement: Join a student club that is related to your professional and recreational interests to build a community and network with likeminded people. The value of campus involvement extends far beyond the campus. Surely, you have been involved in some form of marketing, communication, planning and leadership that can be displayed on your resume. Additionally, it also supports your commitment to your personal and professional development and exposes you to other students and leaders who value your commitment.
Choosing a college major can be a tough decision. Before you decide, it’s okay to take a step back to gather information about yourself, academic areas and occupation areas. At the end of the day, your college major can be supported with internships, volunteering and student involvement. Why waste money on tuition for classes you don’t need when experience is free!