Major choice shouldn’t define career
This week I faced a major minor problem.
As in, I no longer have a minor. I am now only a journalism major, and for some reason I feel like that’s a huge issue.
Since stepping foot onto the University Park Campus, I have been told about the overwhelming opportunities USC provides for anyone interested in studying whatever they want.
Majors are getting more specific, falling in line with the trend of millennials seeking fields of study that correspond directly to real world jobs, as a 2014 White House study concluded.
This translates to more fun-sounding majors like dance and interactive media and games. Want to delve into the world of people aging? Then major in lifespan health. Have a widespread interest in legal studies? Pick the new law, history and culture major.
Did Straight Outta Compton get you hyped about the music industry? Well you can major in arts, technology and the business of innovation at the [Jimmy] Iovine and [Andre “Dr. Dre”] Young Academy. Yes, that happened.
There are also academic distinctions, such as Renaissance Scholar, that can make students feel like one major just isn’t enough. The Renaissance Scholars program, according to the USC website, recognizes undergraduate students who have excelled in their studies while completing a major and a minor (or two or even three majors) in widely separate fields of study.
So the pressure was on to pick up a minor that could set me, my graduation stole and my resumé apart from everyone else at the end of college. More importantly, it would give employers another nudge to pick up my application when I started looking for full-time work.
Then a weird thing happened last week on the first week of classes. I felt like on my race to specialization I hadn’t yet fully grasped my first major, which is print and digital journalism.
Therefore, after three years of diligently working towards a minor, I dropped it like a hot potato. This freed up my schedule to take more specialized classes in my major. I’m re-dedicating my senior year to all things journalism.
It was an extremely hard decision, but after consulting everyone from my parents to my academic advisor to Yahoo! Answers, I’m kinda, sorta sure that I’m now on the right path.
What can I say? I’m a millennial and, like all the blogs and studies have hypothesized, millennials like to switch it up on the winding road of career paths, jumping from here to there but hoping our education helps us land on our feet.
And our first test is college. We work so hard at gaining a college identity and become tied to it. Our major becomes our identifier. I would put money on “What’s your major?” being the most asked question during Welcome Week, right next to “Where are you from?” (Answer: Chicago.)
A statistic from the most recent U.S. Census showed that maybe that question doesn’t really even matter anymore. The 2010 U.S. Bureau of the Census counted only 27 percent of college graduates held a job closely related to their major. That means my journalism major might take me into the world of teaching. Or a psychology major might work as a project manager after graduation.
A mentor told me a few weeks back that she got her degree in the health sciences field. She’s now about to launch a media business — something completely unrelated to the biology and chemistry classes she took. When I asked how she made that major shift, she at first said, “Yeah, I don’t even use my undergraduate degree anymore.” But then she paused, corrected herself and said, “Actually, I guess I use it everyday because you need a bachelor’s to get yourself in the door.”
In this job economy it matters more about how you can apply the skills you acquired from the classes taken and lessons learned than just the titles on your resumé. It’s about taking that difficult class that you’re frightened of, but which could also serve as the perfect anecdote during an interview.
It’s about using college as a time of preparing yourself for the not-yet created careers or strengthening your adaptability skills for ever-changing industries. Over the past four years, and even more this past week, I’m learning that it’s not necessarily about what the diploma will say.
Still not convinced? I think Kanye West put it most eloquently on Sunday at MTV’s Video Music Awards, “I’m confident. I believe in myself. We the millennials, bro. This is a new mentality.”
Now, it’s up to us to change the approach to selecting majors and minors.
After reading “Wait An LA Minute” on Tuesdays, join Jordyn Holman in her millennial conversations on Twitter @JordynJournals. She’s a senior studying print and digital journalism.