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What if I can't have a job relating to my major?

Is this situation normal? Why did you make that decision? Do you think it's useless to study your major?

#job-search #college-major

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Eleanor’s Answer

Great question! This is something I think anyone considering college (and the associated expense) needs to consider. So the short answer is, the sun rises the next day and you keep going. The long answer (from my experience) is...

I graduated high school in 2002, which means my senior year was marked by the 9/11 attacks. And I grew up in NE Pennsylvania, which meant that I knew people who worked in NYC. I decided because of those attacks that I would pursue a degree in Political Science so that I could make a difference diplomatically. I participated in Model UN and Model EU symposiums, had great grades, all the things. But I hated it, and definitely did not want to live inside the Beltway (DC). So after I graduated in 2008 (recession) I decided that I did not want to pursue any career in politics and struggled to find a job. I struggled to find my footing for several years, and I also had the added challenge of marrying into the military and moving every few years (military spouse unemployment rate pre-pandemic was 24%). I ended up going back to school for a BS in Accounting and graduated in 2016. I decided on Accounting not because I wanted to do taxes or audits for the rest of my life but because I wanted a business related degree that was a bit more specialized than a general Business Administration degree. I was working as a call center supervisor at the time, and moved on to a higher paying company and then got promoted into a business operations role. So things are working out in spite of the setbacks and challenges.

That being said, if I could do it differently, I would have been more strategic before choosing a degree:
- What's the expected salary range for this discipline?
- Where are these jobs located?
- Can I start working in this field and complete a degree part time (using my employer's tuition assistance)?

You're really already asking yourself those questions. So you're starting off on the right foot. Be purposeful, mindful and deliberate in your choices, and when you hit a setback, just keep going. Good luck!
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Angela’s Answer

Hello! Getting your degree is really important and having a focus/declaring your major is too. If you're in the process of deciding which major to go with, maybe try start by looking at what different departments offer. It's worth taking the time to do this so the classes you enroll in and take senior year will actually be interesting to you. Once you start applying to jobs, you'll see that in a lot of cases, your major isn't as relevant as you may have thought. However, the medical field is completely different.
My major was Communication Studies. I highly recommend it if you like working with people, communicating with others and have an outgoing personality. I now work in a job at a huge software company and advise smaller tech companies.
Good luck!
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Tyler’s Answer

This is a great question! One I struggled with and saw others struggle with around me. This is something that isn't discussed as much as it should be. I think that if your Major aligns with a passion of yours, you should focus and peruse a career with that Major. I'd give the same advice to people not going after a degree. Someone once told me when I was a younger man that..."everyone is good at something. So good that others will pay you to do it. You need to find what that thing is". On a personal level the things I was interested in during my college years, are actually not what I found myself to be naturally good at. I went for Teaching and then for IP (Internet Protocol). I don't actually do either right now, but use some of those skills still. Don't look at this as wasted time or a set back. Look at it as a stepping stone. Education should never end once college is finished. We continue to grow into full selves as we mature.

The advice I was given years ago helped me to get past this. I think it is more important to know your natural abilities and strengths first.
Take good stock of the things you find yourself naturally doing. This might be things others find un-interesting. Maybe you have a strong interest in Excel sheets and organizing your budgets. Maybe you really like cultivating change and development in others. You have a super power or set of abilities others don't have. Know what those are.

Can you apply your degree to a opportunity you do have?
Is there an opening that would get your foot in the door somewhere? This could be a good way to get more info and experience around the role without actually filling it yet. Things like Mentor programs can be found in many companies once you are hired.

If you haven't finished your degree, is it one that a company would help you get if you were employed?
Many companies offer schooling and tuition assistance. This is also a great way to align yourself with people already in the role and to get a direct career path planned out. What does that role look like in practice and all that good stuff.

Degrees are awesome! Hands on experience is too! Could you volunteer your time using that degree? This could be a great way to build your resume and experience without landing the job first. Companies love volunteering and extra circular actives.

Update us! I'd love to hear how your search is going and more about your field.
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Kim’s Answer

Qianlin,

Don't worry! Five years after you graduate, it's not uncommon for people to be working in fields unrelated to their majors! Many jobs accept degrees in outside fields. It might not seem like it now, but many majors include "transferable skills" - that is, skills you can use in other fields. An example of this is the petrochemical degreed individual who went into banking, specializing in financing projects in his field.

In job searching, there are occupations, such as medical coding and billing, and, there are industries, such as health care. Suppose you want to work in the healthcare industry, but not sure what job. You could do finance, warehouse, doctor, lab tech, custodial, food service, etc - all within the healthcare industry! Or, let's say you know you want to work in shipping and receiving, but don't really care what industry - schools, hospitals, grocery stores, etc. all have shipping and receiving.

You aren't going to be as locked in as you think you will be!
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Monica’s Answer

Hey, this is a great question a lot of college students have after college. I would tell you not to worry about it but continue to look for som of interest that doesn’t feel like a job. There are people all over in a profession that has nothing to do with their major.

Matter of fact, I was in your position where I had a very general major like English but ended up going in the opposite direction. I ended up being a Day Care director but I truly enjoyed it and the kids. So, don’t stress over finding something in your field. …… Things will work in your favor…

Monica recommends the following next steps:

Find work that interest you
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