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Do companies truly focus on your college major when applying for jobs?

My major might be something broad like English, but I want to work in the creative arts. I want to know if employers truly care about your major even if it might not match exactly to what they want. #major

Thank you comment icon Greetings Rokaria, Companies are now more than ever seeking those with expertise and time spent creating marketable items that create a sale that continues to create returns. So, I realize that being a representer of what you want to do has its place but trends indicate that experience that has been productive speaks for itself and has the level of education to operate in the companies with a high comprehension of the field in question is the industries desire to obtain for jobs that are monetized at $50,000. annually or higher. Hopefully, I have answered your question and given you a reason to look into the trends further, they change daily. Patricia Walker

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Subject: Career question for you

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Laura’s Answer

I've been working as a professional artist for almost a decade now. It's been my experience that when you are applying for jobs in the creative field, companies don't really care about your college major. They are looking for these 3 things:

  • The quality of your artwork (so focus on assembling a great portfolio!)
  • Whether or not the work in your portfolio looks like the work they'd hiring you to do (For example: If you're applying for a magazine design job, you need to show them examples of magazine page layouts before they'd consider hiring you)
  • Whether or not you know how to use the right computer programs (it's almost always something in the Adobe Creative Suite line of products, but the software depends on the job)

Hope that helps!


Laura recommends the following next steps:

Create a portfolio with 4-12 examples of your artwork + focus on showing off the skills that specifically relate to what type of position you want.
If you can, make an account on Behance.com and post your portfolio online.
Thank you comment icon Laura is absolutely right. For several years that I have been doing UX Design, when I apply for positions the hiring team of that organization that I am applying to always ask for a link to my digital portfolio. Fatima Freeman
Thank you comment icon Good advice! I'm currently working on building my portfolio and professional references since my kids are grown. Thanks! Amy Pattenaude
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Erica’s Answer

Hi Rokaria,


It largely depends on what industry you want to work in. Since you want to work in the creative arts, a strong portfolio that demonstrates your skillset can speak to your creative talents much more than a degree in a specific field can. Additionally, some employers will explicitly state what kind of degree they want a candidate to have, so you can always weed those out when job hunting. As a hiring manager I interview and screen many candidates for creative roles in filmmaking, photography, graphic design, etc who majored in something completely unrelated such as engineering or biology. The individuals who were hired even though they didn't have a degree in the arts still maintained an impressive portfolio of creative projects which they did on the side. When applying for jobs, they made sure to link to their portfolio or provide files for me to view. Even candidates who DO have a degree in the arts are often still evaluated for a role on the strength of their portfolio or CV. No matter what major is listed on someone's resume, when it comes to the arts a solid portfolio and/or CV listing your experience in the industry can often get your foot in the door during a job hunt. A good portfolio/CV shows employers that you can implement creative techniques or use specific media and software relevant to the type of art you are making. People are multifaceted and it is common for individuals to have skillsets that span a multitude of fields regardless of their major in college.


Networking is important in any field but especially for the arts, sometimes moreso than talent. It's often about who you know and what connections you have to colleagues in your preferred industry. Honestly, this can be a downer if you're not the networking type or it can work very much in your favor! Attend events geared towards your industry and make yourself known. Connecting with others via collaboration can provide access to resources you need to further bulk up your portfolio and get creative with you projects.


I recommend that you look through job openings that match the field you want to work in. You can also browse LinkedIn profiles to see what qualifications other successful people in the industry have. You will find some commonalities to focus on. You can then see what employers are asking for from candidates and determine 1) what creative field will be the best match for you and 2) what you may - keyword being MAY - need to do to be successful.


Lastly, not everyone's journey is the same, so don't get discouraged if what you're doing doesn't match up to what everyone else is doing. If you're wondering what my relevant experience is, I have a degree in art, went to a graduate program for art, worked in the art industry for a while (internships, galleries, exhibitions, freelance) and now am a Hiring Manager for a digital media company. I am also a professional artist. There are multiple ways to succeed in the arts and as you get to know yourself you'll figure out what works best for you.

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Natalie’s Answer

From what I can observe, this seems to be a major concern for you, and you may have hit a few road bumps along the way. As an Artist myself, with a very broad range of skills that do not fit neatly into any pre-packaged job, I know what you are feeling.


Now, to get straight to the point- the answer is Yes, your employer will absolutely look at your major, and it will score points. However beyond that, the employer is even more interested that you WENT to College. Why? Because all colleges have something called a "Core Curriculum" which cover ALL major aspects of education ranging from Science and Mathematics to the Arts. Educated employers know this. That means that you yourself as an English major probably completed an Art course or two in college. Use this as a spring point for when you apply for jobs.


First thing is first, if you are interested in a field, then that means you have enough experience in that field. So if you are interested in the art field, you have some sort of experience in your favor, whether you are aware of it or not. Gather 2- 3 relevant experiences and note them down. These experiences will highlight why you love the art field, what knowledge you have gained or problems you have solved. Use these experiences to formulate your cover letter.


In addition build a portfolio. More then anything in the Art world, a portfolio is everything. Yes resumes are great, but if you are applying for a visual field I need to see your visual work. Gather 5-10 good pieces or photos of your work. Make sure they have good resolution and accurately reflect the color intensity and saturation.


Good Luck moving forward!

Natalie recommends the following next steps:

Brainstorm possible experiences and portfolio pieces
Nail your cover letter and pick your portfolio images
Talk to an objective friend, advisor or mentor to take a look at your work
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Kirsten’s Answer

Hi Rokaria,

As a freelance artist and writer, I'm going to echo Fatima's advice.

In my career thus far I have had a novel and several short stories published. I've worked as an illustrator and fine artist (in galleries), and also as a newspaper reporter.

All of these jobs involved a demonstration of skills. I got into book publishing via entering and advancing in contests. From there I made contacts to get my short stories published. The illustration work I got through an online portfolio hosted by a writing and publishing organization, and the gallery work from getting a portfolio together and hustling from gallery to gallery. (My gallery days were a while ago. There are probably online options now.) The reporter job was aided by my previous (creative) writing experience.

My best advice is to hone your skills, pinpoint some areas you want to work in, see who's hiring, and who they're hiring: what kind of work they are after. It never hurts to contact a potential employer and ask them what they are looking for. This makes you look serious, and helps you focus your efforts. You may have to undertake some self study, and/or apply for an internship or targeted training course to help get you there.

All best,
Kirsten
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Stephen’s Answer

Here's how I started out and how it ended up for me. From the time I was 4-yers old I wrote and I thought that's what I would be careerwise when I grew up. By the time I was 22, I'd written two-and-a-half bad, unpublishable novels. This was before self-publishing was a thing and you could really find a path to turning your writing into a real book worth reading. When I wrote those novels, there was no self-publishing; it was called vanity publishing. For the obvious reasons.

I went to college and majored in English. I still thought I'd write; but I also thought teaching English might be a way for me to not have to worry about surviving economically. I got my first job, on one of my periodic breaks from college, as a copy editor and proofreader. I lasted as a proofreader for about 15 years, until an ex-girlfriend of mine who I always remained friendly with got us both applications for a civil service test. I did well on the test and became a clerk in NY's court system. I lasted at that for over 32 years. But I also got more heavily involved in publishing during that time. I got my first computer right after I started work in this civil service job, I upgraded periodically.

When I got married, tho', I decided it smarter to not have the computer just be an expensive toy. So I combined my fascination with computers and the foundation proofreading gave me for understanding how words (and pictures) can best be placed on the printed page. I started by searching the Sunday help wanted ads in newspapers (no Internet just yet) for graphic designer/artist jobs (didn't see actual jobs for book design back then) and asked whether the work could be done as a freelancer from my own location.

I got my first break when a local ad agency on Long Island (where I reside) advertised for someone to do a three-page brochure on a medical device. I sent my résumé, playing up my proofreading and copy editing experience, and sending samples of my design-and-layout work, such as they were--I'd invented a bunch of projects for myself, doing creative, smart-looking résumés, and those were what I sent to the ad agency. I got the job.

Soon after that I answered an ad from a book packager in the city (NYC, THE City) looking for someone to lay out an algebra textbook. I got that gig. But my big break took place when, after finally getting an Internet connection--text-only thru my local public library--I joined an Internet chat group for publishing freelancers and answered a job posting there for someone to lay out science journals for a Florida publisher. I applied. They were looking for an off-site freelancer. I sent my résumé and used some pages from the algebra textbook as sample of my work.

Miraculously I got back an email from the Florida publisher--actually from someone who worked there offering me the job. Here's the miraculous part: The person who sent that email from the Florida publisher turned out to be an old friend of mine from Long Island in NY who'd moved to Florida with her husband and kids. She and I knew each other from having worked at a typesetter where I was a proofreader and she a keyboarder. (She was also my tea leaf reader.)

I worked for them for almost three years. And I began to get book projects from publishers around the U.S. All this after my 9-to-5, Monday thru Friday workday as a court clerk. I retired from that court clerk job about five years ago. But I've continued as a book designer, work that I really enjoy. To date I've done this work for a little over 29 years on over 110 books.

So here's the takeaway, English was a fine major for me. But I think any of the liberal arts paths--philosophy, fine arts, to name just two--provide the kind of intellectual trining that can serve you in reinventing yourself or just fine tune what work you do. But you have to stick at it. I feel tht I created opportunities for myself simply by answering ads over and over until one clicked. And then another.

Go for it!
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Chirayu’s Answer

It depends on the company and the role you're applying for. Some employers do place a high emphasis on a candidate's college major, especially for positions that require a specific set of skills or technical knowledge. For example, a technology company may prefer candidates with computer science or engineering degrees for a software development role. However, many employers also recognize that a candidate's major may not always align with the specific skills required for a job. In these cases, they may look at other factors such as a candidate's relevant work experience, portfolio, or transferable skills to determine their fit for the role. If you have a passion for the creative arts and want to work in this field, it's important to showcase your skills and experience through your portfolio, work samples, and networking opportunities. You can also look for companies that value creativity and are open to hiring individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Ultimately, the right employer for you will be one that values your unique strengths and experiences, regardless of your college major.




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Malcolm’s Answer

Hello, my name is Malcolm and I am a 5th-year student at Clarion University studying the Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in Entrepreneurship Marketing Leadership. To answer your question it truly depends on the company that you are looking at!! I am currently applying for jobs in my field of study and outside my field. In my marketing courses and my professors at school are hiring people outside the business field to get a new diverse/creativities team to work for their companies/business. 

When applying for jobs you want to look over your resume and take out anything you feel that is not related to the job. Your resume can really help you when you are applying outside your field! If you have other work experience(s), organizations/activities, or volunteering work that you have done, and put that in your resume. I wanted to mention this because having information like can show a future employer that you may qualify for the job. Also when looking at job sites for opening positions it will look through their site for "keywords". Example if I go to Indeed.com and put in the search bar "English" it will show me opening positions for a whole list of openings and some jobs that seems not to be related to what I am looking for. They are showing me these jobs because in the job description or requirements it may have that word or words that are associated with it. If you find a job that you are interested in I highly recommend you applying for it. The best advice I got about applying for jobs outside my field is from my marketing advisor. He said "if you speak to their human resources department, representative, boss/manager, or whoever about the job and they question you about applying because its not your field. Tell them why you are applying for this position/company, what you can bring to the table, and make you different from the other candidates".

Malcolm recommends the following next steps:

If you are on an college campus see if your school offers an career development center. Talk to them about your concerns about jobs or internships. Step-up an meeting with them to look over your resume.
Look for job fairs, career seminars, resume/career classes, events, and keep your eyes/ears. You may find a future employer there and make connections with people as well. Those connections can help you find opportunities in the near future or beyond.
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Sarah’s Answer

In the creative arts both work samples and performance are critical to a potential employer. A good grounding in business is always a good idea but of equal importance is experience working with other students in your field on collaborative projects-and if possible some volunteer (or paid) internships in education. Focus on adults with disabilities, special needs students, and k-12 mainstream students. Your skills as a communicator will increase exponentially with teaching and mentoring experience, as will your inspiration to improve your own creative work. In our currently social distanced environment create some videos to display your skill in explaining to an audience, either child or adult, a basic process in your area of creative work. This could be as valuable in 2020 to a potential employer as your portfolio.
In general educate yourself as thoroughly as possible in all areas of history-art, social, political, and religious. Know the context of your own life and education by understanding what came before.

Good luck!
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Remy’s Answer

To an extent they do, depending on the industry- but most of the time companies are more focused on whether or not you completed your degree, put in the effort to challenge yourself, and are passionate. Companies hire people, not diplomas. By that I mean, you are more than what your degree says, and if you share passion, excitement, and the drive to succeed- the company will not discount you based on your major (assuming you are able to complete the job). Networking, building relationships and completing internships are your best bet to success. Often times you are 18 when picking a major, sop you are not tied in forever on what that decision was. That being said- the skills you learn in any major in regards to work ethic, organzation, and communication will be of value in any career. Good luck!
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Daniel’s Answer

Artist here! Employers, do not necessarily care about your major so long as you can demonstrate the necessary skills for the job. Skill matters more than any degree, though relevant coursework helps! I hope this helps answer your question.
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Lyndsey J’s Answer

They usually do not look at your master if you’re an artist they would want to know what type of classes you took and your ongoing education as an artist. OK

Lyndsey J recommends the following next steps:

They usually do not look at your master if you’re an artist they would want to know what type of classes you took and your ongoing education as an artist. OK
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Caitlin’s Answer

In my experience, your major only matters if you're going into certain professional environments. for example, if you're going into life insurance or anything financial, generally employers look at if you're majoring in economics, finance, entrepreneurship, communications, or anything similar. From what I've seen, what really matters is your transferable skills from other jobs, experiences, or school. Written communication is a big skill that employers look for, while technology literacy is one our generation (and younger) often forgets can be super essential to building yourself up. As an artist, I find that attention to detail, creativity, and emotional intelligence are transferable skills that prove to be quite useful when applying for jobs. For example, when you think about yourself in a group project, are you a person who goes with the flow and interjects when you feel needed? Or are you a person who takes the reins and steers the project in a way you think would be successful? After about 1 year out of college, people stop really caring what you studied, unless it's essential to that career.

If you have a hard time giving yourself credit for anything, like me, asking friends or family what you're good at can give you a direction. When you ask enough people, patterns start to emerge.

Caitlin recommends the following next steps:

Identify your transferable skills.
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Miguel’s Answer

It's not an absolute, just a start.

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Alan’s Answer

No, The first thing a company looks for will be the link to your online portfolio, which must be clearly legible from the top of your resume as an embedded link. Then the first 3 images seen on your portfolio must be your strongest and enough to capture more attentions, clicks and a full read of your resume there after. With the amount of applicants per jobs, most hiring managers have between 10 to 20 seconds to understand your capacities and review someone . As Visual artist the art presented must be strong to expend that time and give you a short at the next step.

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Arash’s Answer

It is a holistic review! Companies also consider your real-life experiences, passion about that specific job, and your personality as a new addition to their team.
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Sona’s Answer

In Azerbaijan, academic achievements play an important role while applying for a job or internship. Companies have preference for people with higher grades which is unfair.
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