Connecting Majors and Careers
Many students think that there is a corresponding major for every career and that it is impossible to enter a specific career field without having that corresponding major. This is a myth. Of the thousands of job titles listed in the US Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles, very few of them require a specific academic undergraduate background. Employers are more concerned with the person they are hiring, rather than the name of that person’s major. Below you can find some suggestions from employers on how to make your undergraduate experience marketable.
- Provide a strong academic record.
- Become involved in campus and community activities. This demonstrates leadership, teamwork, and organizational and managerial skills.
- Get relevant, hands-on experience in the form of internships, volunteer work, and part-time jobs.
- Acquire strong communication skills, both written and verbal. Look for classes and experiences that will allow you to develop and demonstrate these skills.
- Develop your interpersonal and social skills. Employers look for traits such as maturity, responsibility, leadership, ability to get along with others, etc.
- Acquire and develop computer skills. Identify specific software applications for your field of interest and learn these.
- Select your elective courses wisely to develop specific areas of interest.
- Seek out international experiences through studying a foreign language, participating in a Study Abroad program, or taking classes to enhance your knowledge of international issues and cultures.
- Identify a career field (or several) that interests you and keep track of your field’s job market, new developments, employers, etc.
- Attend classes or workshops to hone your interviewing skills and learn how to write effective resumes and cover letters so that you can articulately communicate your skills and experiences to an employer.
As a freshman or sophomore, you may not know what career(s) you might be interested in, but that shouldn’t stop you from preparing for a career!
After reviewing the employer’s suggestions above, click to see how you can start implementing some of these suggestions.
There are two facts that can greatly influence your choice of major:
- There is frequently no close correlation between major and career**
- The average employee will have at least three career changes over a lifetime.
**Career areas that require some type of certification or licensure usually require specific undergraduate backgrounds. Examples of this are: Architecture, Education, Engineering, Dietetics, and Nursing.
If you’ve been putting together your portfolio, you’ve probably been doing a lot of thinking, collecting information, and talking to people to help you clarify your thoughts about potential majors and careers. Now it’s time to take a quiz to see how much you’ve learned about this decision-making process.
Click to take your quiz and to see how much you have learned about the connection between majors and careers.
The choices you are making about your major and potential careers are not cast in stone. By choosing a major you are not making a decision about “what you will do for the rest of your life.” Relax. At this point in your life you just need to decide what you are interested in now and how you might like to apply this knowledge in a career setting. The most important thing that you should be developing from your undergraduate experience, of which your major is only a part, are the skills and experience that you will need to be that flexible and adaptable employee of the 21st century. You will continue to change and grow as you encounter new situations and new experiences. Your goals and the decisions you will be faced with will also consequently change. Be flexible. You are just starting your life’s journey.
To summarize your journey through this portfolio, click to see how far you have already come.