It’s that time of year when all undeclared freshmen and sophomores begin to collectively freak out, utterly directionless regarding what field of study they’re going to concentrate in. I get it – practically everyone you’ve run across for the past four years of your life has been asking you what you’re going to major in, but you’re still “not sure yet, just trying to knock out some gen-eds.” That’s all well and good until the email gets sent out. Oh yes, the email that really kicks things into a higher gear, sending students back to their dorms, weeping about how they still don’t know what they’re doing with their lives.
Fear not, for I have a definitive answer as to what major each and every one of you should declare. To put it simply: it doesn’t really matter. Okay, maybe it matters if you’re looking into nursing, education, engineering or medicine, but those majors are so hefty that you’d better get on that! This message goes out to all of my friends who have an undying love for that which is not STEM. Here’s to you, arts, humanities and social science majors – I truly believe that each and every one of you will one day be gainfully employed, and not as a Starbucks barista, like your mom told you when you said that you declared a political science major.
According to Ashley Stahl, career coach and Forbes contributor, while 67% of college graduates are employed in a field that requires a degree, only 26% do work that’s related to their undergraduate major. She goes on to assert that while some careers are more lucrative, individuals holding nearly any kind of bachelor’s degree will likely earn just as much as their counterparts who picked a major with intent to go into a specific field. For instance, both music and business majors alike can earn top-dollar salaries in the business world. Stahl lists three factors that matter most when searching for employment, which I have fashioned into an acronym of sorts: ESN.
It’s like ESPN, but without the P. E – Experience. Internships, volunteer work, and student organizations alike look fabulous on a resume, as employers want to hire passionate and involved individuals. Check out Hope’s website for a list of clubs and organizations that you can be a part of! S – Soft skills. Knowing how to research, having good problem-solving skills and being an effective communicator matter much more than any major-related knowledge (again, for those of you not pursuing a specialized vocation). In fact, majors in the humanities and social sciences are incredibly well-suited to a variety of jobs due to their extensive background in research, analysis and synthesis. N – Network. Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s who you know, not what you know?”
No truer words have ever been spoken. Building relationships with your fellow students, professors and employers is an easy and essential step in landing a great job after college. Also, there’s nothing wrong with being a decent human being. In fact, I would encourage it. Finally, you should study what you love not just for some vaguely defined personal benefit, but because it will truly make you a better employee.
How many unhappy workers, do you suppose, come home from a day of work feeling fulfilled? Money, though an undeniably essential part of our lives and culture, isn’t everything. Declare that women’s studies major! Keep taking jazz oboe lessons! Do the things you love without feeling guilty about it, knowing that as long as you work hard and foster life skills, you can land a profitable job without giving up on your dreams.