Originally posted onto WalletPath.com.
College is a time that is deliriously difficult. This goes without saying for a long list of reasons that span from “I’m totally broke all of the time!” to “I am buried in essays and reports and projects and have no time to actually be a person!”
Before any of those problems come to pass (except for being broke, that more than likely is an issue you had before you even got into college), you have an even bigger difficulty you have to face –what is my major supposed to be?
A lot of us in the working world spend our days laboring in career fields that we did not major in, and what you should know as you are trying to decide which major to pick for the first time, or even if you are feeling regret about your current major, is that it really doesn’t matter what your diploma and degree says on it. As long as it bears your name, and you can show inner tenacity for absolutely everything you set your hands upon in your career, then you will be more than fine.
This my friends, is why it’s okay to have a job that has nothing to do with your degree.
Get the idea of a “Get Rich Quick” Major out of your head.
The first thought that too often comes to mind when deciding a major is “Which major will bring me the most money in the end?”
This quantifiable thought and method of thinking is not wrong, but it can be limiting in the long run if you let it. While no college major guarantees anything at any time come graduation, there are in fact degrees that are known to boost those chances of you landing a job with a thicker paycheck once you exit college.
Although there are no guarantees, majors such as Business Administration, Engineering, and Computer Sciences (or any kind of Applied Science) have been known to bring about success, but what about for those who are not looking to build rockets, or run billion dollar corporations right out the gate?
Although the majors I mentioned a bit ago have shown record of bringing about jobs and money rather quickly after graduation, they come with a promise of a sealed destiny with a lifetime of work and stability. The keywords to note absolutely everywhere you look with college majors is that there are “no guarantees”.
Let’s see the degree – does it matter what it says?
When hunting for jobs online, there is usually a checklist of criteria that recruiters want to see: they want a certain number of years of experience, a certain level of interaction with specific tools, and of course – a degree.
It used to be that what was asked for under the degree was a specific kind of degree, and in some places it still is requested, but more and more, recruiters are just looking for degrees in general.
Degrees represent more than just the fact that you took a specific list of classes in a particular subject, but that you are dedicated enough to finish a several year long commitment to schooling, and that you are in fact intelligent enough to complete and receive a degree. Degrees have become symbolic of an individual’s commitment to success rather than a ticket to a specific job.
Getting your hands on a degree is more important than the big decision of what the degree will say across the top. Does it help if you want to go into Business Administration and you have a degree in such a field? Yes, absolutely! Just know that because your degree says something different than the field you want to go into, it doesn’t mean that you can never enter into that field without going to school for it. Recruiters are looking more at the experience you have under your belt than the type of degrees that you have.
Don’t be afraid to be crafty in acquiring experience for the field you want to enter into.
Let’s talk about where experience is gathered from. Recruiters and job hiring managers are looking to staff their teams with people who can get the job done, and it’s all about minimizing the risk of their investments –those investments being you.
Think of it this way: You are at the market and really craving a piece of delicious fruit to satisfy those healthy hunger pangs you’ve been feeling. You walk up to the produce isle and see your favorite and go-to fruit sitting there, looking ripe and delicious. You see it on the little shelf and know that this piece of fruit will get you just what you need. It has a proven track record of getting the job done. Next to it sits a new piece of fruit that you have never seen before, and a sign under it says “Trust us, it’s good!” and nothing else on it. You only have a dollar on you, and each piece of fruit –the tried and tested fruit as well as the new mystery fruit– is a dollar. Which one are you more likely to pick? The recruiters are more likely to pick the familiar fruit. Why? Because it has an already proven track record of success in getting the job done.
The tried and proven fruit is the candidate who brings with them experience, and it doesn’t matter from where or how they got the experience, all that matters is that they have it and can rely on it. The new mystery fruit is the candidate who has no experience but bears a degree in the chosen field. Yes, that candidate may be helpful, but they don’t bring with them the proven track record of work, although they may be more than capable of producing great work. The hiring manager is going to pick the one with the most experience, because they want to minimize the risk on the investment.
Be that person with experience, and it doesn’t matter what your degree says. Yes, you may have an unconventional way of gathering that experience, but as long as you have it, you will eventually be working on the same projects and making comparatively just as much as the guy who has a degree in the specific work you both are working on.
You have a degree, but what else ya got?
Your experience is your ticket in. How you get it is up to you, and sometimes you have to earn experience by being crafty, such as taking on more responsibility in your current job that overlaps into another field. You earn experience in more fields than just one by making your own opportunities, so be on the lookout for ways that you can expand your horizons at your current place of work –they are there, you just have to be more vocal about taking them on.
But for those who don’t yet have a job and are trying to decide on what degree to take on, I will say this again: It doesn’t matter what your degree says, you just need to be able to prove you can produce the work in question.
Obviously, we can’t have Art History majors designing the chemical make-up of new rocket fuels to be used inside of the latest rocket engines (but who am I to say otherwise?), but you get the idea. Art History Majors can however be just as smart and fast learning as the business major when it comes to getting work done, so if you as the art major have experience working in business, then believe it or not, you are just as qualified to produce work as the business major –provided you have the work experience to back up your claim.
“It’s not just what you know, it’s also who.”
You probably heard this before, that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I agree with this statement, but you really should be able to back up both sides of the phrase. You should be able to combine the what you know with the who that you know. That my friends, is how you succeed.
Let’s say you have a plethora of experience in a particular subject, but know absolutely no one who can help in pushing that resume an extra mile with recruiters and hiring managers. All you have to rely on is cold resume submissions, which do work but only a fraction of the time. On the converse of that, let’s say you don’t know how to do much, but you know a ton of people in various fields and areas of work. Your friends can only make you look so good and talk you up so much if you don’t give them much to work with –it’s best to have yourself standout both on paper and in reputation. This is what gets you jobs, people.
I keep picking on Art History majors, but one more time: Let’s say you have a degree in Photography from a University (not an online university, we’ll talk about those in another post), but also have experience under your belt from working in various Marketing companies as an intern in college. In this example you have an interest in returning to the marketing field, but not a degree in Marketing or Communications. Fear not, for you still have a solid chance at getting hired. Why, because of your experience! Let’s go another step further and say that you have a friend on the inside of a prospective Marketing agency who is looking to hire someone, and this friend vouches for you. Your chances of hire just shot up by a huge amount.
It’s who you know –combined with experience and a degree in pretty much anything— that will bolster up your chances of getting picked up.
Again, there are no such things as guarantees, but know that just because your degree is in a totally different field than the one you want to go into, it doesn’t mean that that door is shut. The door is never shut on anything you want to do –all you have to do is pull (or push) harder to get it open.
Does your degree match the job you currently have or had? Share your experience about degree and career matching with us below! Thanks for stopping by!