College graduation ultimately means becoming consumed with your first job search. This process can be daunting, especially for those students who either had second thoughts about their chosen major and intended career path–or those who majored in a field not directly connected to a specific career. If you are in one of these groups, fear not! Although your major, coursework, and academic performance are relevant to landing a job, they are not the only deciding factors on where you can work.
So, just how important is your major to your job search?
Consider the industry of your college major
Some majors are tied directly to specific career fields. For example, if you wish to become a teacher, you likely will have needed to complete an education program and eventually sit for a licensing exam. The same applies to majors in nursing. If you did not complete an accredited nursing program, you won’t be able to take the nursing licensure exam. In these cases, successfully completing a specific major is crucial to landing a job in the matching field.
Other majors, however, are closely related to career paths but don’t necessarily require a degree in the area. For example, an accounting major will have specific training to become an accountant; however, that doesn’t mean graduates from other majors can’t be considered for these positions. Students who majored in finance, math, or statistics may also have the necessary skills to be hired as an accountant. This can also apply to students who are considering case management positions. Although social work majors are most prepared to provide case management services to struggling populations, students who majored in psychology or sociology can be just as qualified. Careers in marketing and communications are another example of an industry that will often hire students from several different majors. Successful job candidates may have majored in English, communications, journalism, marketing, or graphic design.
Lastly, there are many industries, such as professional sales, education (non-teaching positions), insurance, and customer service management, which hire new grads from several more majors, looking for more generalized requirements. They may simply want to know the student has completed his or her bachelor’s degree, which demonstrates college-level math and writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Consider work experiences not related to your college major
Hopefully, as a college student, you were able to do more than just attend class. Your non-academic experiences can be very influential on your future career as well. Did you work during college, volunteer, or participate in a club or organization? If so, and if you enjoyed these activities, seek out related careers. For example, many upperclassmen work as community or resident assistants in their dorms. If you loved this experience working with and mentoring other college students, consider applying for a position with your alma mater or another college or university as a student engagement coordinator, admissions counselor, or community manager.
If you volunteered with a non-profit organization such as a homeless or domestic violence shelter, seek out positions in social services related to case management or victim advocacy. You may qualify for a position regardless of your major.
You may have majored in art, but were also an active participant or leader of a technology club. If so, look for tech positions related to your skillsets. For example, if you know how to program or code well, you will likely qualify for positions based on your portfolio regardless of your major.
Although it often seems like your college major alone determines your career fate, this just isn’t the case. It may influence it, but there are other factors that influence your career options as well. If you don’t know what career options to consider based on your major, talk to your faculty, academic advisor, or the career center at your college’s campus. You may be surprised at what opportunities await!
Brenna Tonelli is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.