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What are you going to do with THAT major?

As a career services professional I cannot tell you how many times I've met with students to talk about career options and the first thing they ask is, "What can I do with my major?"  As if my facial expression doesn't give the answer away most of the time, I smile and say "Whatever you want to do!"  

According to the Washington Post, only 27% of college grads have a job related to their major.  If you think about it, how many times have you looked a job posting that said, History/English/Philosopy/Math major wanted?  Sure there are a few specific degree paths that lead to very specific employment opportunities, however, if you look at the majority of job postings, you will find that employers instead are looking for skills and related experience.  A wide variety of majors can teach you key skills that employers look for such as communication skills, problem-solving skills, or analytical thinking skills.  Employers want to know that you are trainable and that you have the right skills needed to be successful in their industry.

Employers also want to see that you've taken initiative during your college years and have either had an internship, part-time job, volunteered, or gotten involved in organizations on campus.  This shows the employer that you are a well-rounded citizen and will make you a more competitive applicant after graduation.

So while there are lots of options for college graduates to pursue many different industries and opportunities, how does one narrow it down?  First think about your own experience and skill sets, are you noticing any connections?  Maybe you've found you are excellent at working in a team or perhaps organizing events.  Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook through the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  You will find you can search industries and careers and it will tell you what skills are required.  Whatever your skill set or experience might be, some of the best ways to explore career paths are through job shadowing, completing internships or taking on a part-time job in the industry or field.  

So next time you're asked, "What are you going to do with THAT major?"  You can tell everyone "Whatever I Want!"


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