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
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
Your question is a very insightful one and something I would expect an honest person looking to become a professional artist to ask. To answer, no, people looking to hire artists are not looking at college majors; rather, employers will be paying attention BIG TIME to your portfolio! It doesn’t matter what you’ve studied or even if you have studied any form of collegiate diploma program- what matters above and beyond all else is what you can SHOW employers, your skills.
It is never to early to begin collectively applying diligent sound mind, including the ever-so painful criticism, known as “critiquing” in the Art World, to your portfolio. Take on a variety of disciplines to have a decent selection installed into your portfolio- it will basically be your calling card, which reminds me, as the front protective sheet inside your portfolio book, ALSAYS remember to have your name and contact information displayed well so that employers know to whom they return the portfolio to, if they happen to ask to borrow it for a few days.
You can also create your portfolio online. Seeing as you’re an artist, it is also never too early to buy your own name online, this way your name is secure for you to apply your artwork to once you design or have designed your online portfolio; check out a few from searching Google to get an idea of how other artists have chosen to design their own.
I hope my help serves you well and I am so excited to learn of young people still choosing to exert themselves artistically during a time when The Arts have been stripped from public education funding. I am really proud of you and for you!
take care and good luck!
Therefore, ask yourself...
"What draws me to this role?"
"Does this role tie into my major/passion?"
"Would this role help me down the road?"
Along with other similar q's that could help uncloud your judgement.
In the example you use, English vs the creative arts, it all goes back to what you exclusively seek within the English fields . Even with a broad outline, there are so many niches to take. from freelancing to being a teacher/professor. Employers can only recommend and be a mentor. At the end of the day, it is you who will always care about your major/passion.
Hope this helps, good luck out there! You got this!
When I started in the 90s it was less common to seek out a creative career and the competition wasn't as fierce as it is today. In the 90's you were primarily competing against applicants from the city you in which you lived. Now, you compete against talent from everywhere on the globe. And many of those people have extraordinary art skill or skills in both art and a complementing field (i.e. programming).
When I hired an artist, my primary concerns were technical skill and professionalism. The first was answered with a strong sketchbook and portfolio. The second was less clear, as many things can be used as evidence of professionalism. One of them is a college degree.
For me, degrees came into consideration only when, two or more candidates exhibited equal skill. If one had no degree against one who did, the latter would have the edge. And similarly, if they both had degrees, but one was an art degree while the other was a degree from another non-art field, then the person with the art degree would generally have the edge. So you can see that the degree was generally used as a tie-breaker in the case that both had strong talent but there was only one position to fill. Sometimes though a degree outside of art would benefit the project or the department.
When choosing a non-art major, research how that major can complement your creative skills to make you the stronger candidate. For example, in games, a game designer usually has to demonstrate strong knowledge of gameplay, and it is a bonus if they are strong in art OR programming OR writing. But, a candidate that can show strength in two or more of these categories gains the edge. So an English degree would make them a stronger candidate.
In the end if you are hungry and committed to working in a creative field you can make it happen. Many have done so without any formal education. But they have done plenty of studying their craft.
Having said that though, a lot depends on the individual. Just because someone has a degree doesn't mean he/she is good at those things. Seeking a design position, your portfolio needs to speak for itself. Similarly, your communication skills, work ethic, empathy, and reasoning need to be evident - from experience, references, and how you express yourself to potential employers.
An English degree by itself won't get your foot in the door if you're wanting a design job. You still need that specific training. However, once you get your foot in the door, the skills you've acquired in attaining the English degree will help you move up (assuming you're a hard worker, take intiative, etc. etc.). The major really isn't a one time choice, or a decision in a vacuum; it should be part of an overall strategy to get where you want to go.
Stephanie Stephen’s Answer
If you're applying for jobs in creative arts with your BA in English, they will most likely just appreciate the fact that you went to college. Your resume would stick out more if you had a degree in something fine art related. Your relative experience and work history will be what they care about most in this situation.
I have my BA in Studio Art. I have found that, depending on the job you're applying for, certain companies WILL care about your major. STEM fields in particular usually require you to have a specific major. I know I have a good shot at any art related job because of my major. Often times, the manager will tell me they are interested in speaking with me because my art background makes me a unique candidate who perhaps holds a different perspective than all the business majors they see.
When applying for jobs outside the realm of your major, cover letters are your best friend. Explain how the major you chose helps you be the best candidate for the job. Never ever say something like "I know I'm not qualified" or "I lack the skills required", say something like "my experience doing ____ and _____ makes me a unique candidate as I hold a unique perspective" or something like that. Also take what you learned as an English major and find a way to make it applicable to the job you're applying for. "As an English major, I was able to explore ________ through writing and hone my ________ skills. As (Position) at your company, I will be able to ______________......... " and so on.
What area in the creative arts are you hoping to work in? I can speak from the visual arts side of this only. Hopefully there will be some useful information here though.
Usually, the specific degree one has is not completely important, though usually one within a range of related degrees is expected or previous professional experience to show that one understands the type of work. What they care most about in visual arts is what is shown as in one's portfolio and website.
That said, even if the specific degree is not completely important, there can be the problem of splitting one's focus. If one wants to do visual work, they get good by doing it. You would be competing for jobs with people who spend all their time getting good at whatever the specifc discipline is, and not focusing on that puts one at a disadvantage.
Being that you may get an English degree, would you be considering creative writing? In children's books, there are writer/illustrators who do both. That's an example of a very competitive field to break into.
That said, it is one way to cross disciplines that comes to mind, and those that can get the book deals do well. So that may be an area to look into. I could maybe point you directly to resources and people who mostly do the visual side but know the industry.
That's just a quick answer for now. I may later to add more. Good luck!
Alan recommends the following next steps:
Short answer - NO.
If you want to be in the creative arts what matters is the quality of content in your portfolio, and who you network, and become allies with (you don't have to be sleepover friends that share deepest darkest secrets, but close enough to where you can feel comfortable asking each other for job leads and advice). Consider being an apprentice and interning if your starting out fresh. Don't ask someone to be your mentor. Mentorship begins on the friendship level, and is a two way street.
Employers like to know about your experience and how you went about creating your content. The subject will often come up of how you learned your skills, but they're mostly curious about knowing you as a person and why you got started. If you're self taught, it could be seen as a strength, given that you have the will, work ethic, and determination to learn on your own, by actively seeking out various sources of educational content (YouTube, other online sources, community library, etc).
That's not to say there's anything inherently wrong with going to University, but there is a financial relief and freedom of not having to pay for large loans, or hunting for grants and scholarships. It also depends on your learning patterns and pacing. You might find Universities are to rigid and hinder your personality; learning habits. The courses might be too fast or slow, depending on your learning curve. However this might not be the case, you may prefer the structure of a University outline, rather than fragmented learning sources on the internet.
Joseph recommends the following next steps:
If you want in on the business side, mentors in that area and some classes that are sometimes offered at a low price or for free.
Or if it’s styling and design start by being an assistant for a while until you find you can slowly do more design yourself.
I find with educational jobs in the arts they do care. However! If you teach at arts Center’s and carry a strong portfolio of your own work and student work you as well as get a simple teachers certification- many doors could open for you.
All this said, a BFA and MFA are incredible for gaining creative tools to help you know what you have to offer and how to navigate opportunities for art making in the world. However if that’s not an option for you at this time, the other things I mentioned can be a wonderful place to start. For some, possibly all you need to unfold your creative calling.
Go go!! Enjoy!!! blessings.