Most of us students who attend college have probably seen or heard from at least one person that it is critical to pick a degree that leads directly to a job after college. “You are probably not going to use that major anyway!” is something many people pursuing liberal art or art degrees have heard more than once.
There have been data that show that it is very possible that you will not land in the same career you spend your first four years in school studying for. If data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census is to be believed, (which it probably should) approximately 1 in 4 college grads work jobs related to their major; however, it is important to keep your mind open and vigilant when you look at the data. Especially when there is data out there that could say otherwise! If you are to look at data gathered by our Career & Internship Services team, at UMD over 50% of our graduates reported that they were in a job related to their major.
It is important to understand what defines the statement “related to my major.” Skills picked up in college are supposed to be transferred to wherever you choose to work. One can argue the teamwork and problem solving skills learned from team art projects are applicable to whatever job the person lands after school. The author of The Washington Post article discussing the data even says, “My specific math degree doesn’t really come in handy for journalism all that often, but college itself was still useful.” There is much that can be gleaned from that statement alone. The author never mentions any regret about choosing a math major over some other career path. It is entirely possible that this person changed their career path because they found something else that they wanted to do with their life. Also, he mentions that college itself was still useful. What does this mean for college students today?
Pursuing a job unrelated to your major is not the end of the world. People change over time. The trick is to pursue your passion. Hopefully, your time in college will be spent participating in activities that will teach you things that are applicable to life, while also doing things that just plain make you happy. Perhaps you will find that the career path you originally started is not actually the way you want to go. There is no reason to panic if this is you! Whether your career path takes you to something you think is related to your major or not, it is important to find what suits you.
Do not be afraid to use your resources. See if there are other jobs that peak your interest. Keep looking at the job market to see what skills you may need in the future. If you find yourself wondering if you want to have a career related to your degree, stop by your institution’s career service office! For you University of Minnesota Duluth students and alumni, that is Career & Internship Services. Career offices can be very helpful in determining what you can do as a student to make yourself marketable in whatever environment you wish to start a career.