Choose a Career, Not a Major

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”


Simple question, right? It’s the same question we’ve been answering since we were four. But somewhere between asking our parents if we can stay up late and filling out college applications, the question becomes so much more complex. What do I want to major in? What the heck is a major? Do I have to go to grad school? Should I have a minor?

Figuring out what you’re going to do for the rest of your life is no easy task. (It’s still tough for the college grads out here.) Many people choose a major because they think it’ll lead them to the job they want. In most cases, they would be 100% correct. But here’s a little secret - any major can lead you to a good job. Only one will lead you to the career that’s perfect for you.

If you want to be a graphic designer, you’d probably choose graphic design as your major, right? Well, let’s break it down further - what do you want to design? Websites, marketing collateral, advertising campaigns, computer programs - all of those professions require a background in graphic design. It might seem difficult at first, but thinking big picture is the best thing you can do for your future.

Here are a few tips to help you choose a career rather than a major:

  1. Take a random class...or four. The first couple years of college were created specifically for you to figure out what you like. Sign up for that jazz class or beginner journalism course. Most people end up falling in love with something they would’ve otherwise never given a try. When you find something you’re passionate about, envisioning a career becomes much easier than just deciding on a major.
  2. Meet with an advisor. Those career centers and student success centers on campus aren’t just there to look pretty. Those advisors get paid to sit and help you figure out what you need to do so that you end up with a career that you love. Use them to your advantage! (You’re already paying for them.)
  3. Get Indeed notifications. Regardless of whether or not you have a job, looking at weekly job postings is a great way to get a feel for what to do on a daily basis. Let’s say you’re a people person who loves working with nonprofits and uses your finance skills to keep track of the money raised in each fundraiser. Seems like you’re a perfect fit for a Development Manager or Community Development Coordinator, right? That is until you realize that this position requires you to write very long proposals to prospective sponsors and the most you’ve ever written was a two page summary in ENGL 101 about three years ago.
  4. Shadow & set up informational interviews. Don’t have time in your schedule for another internship? Schedule an informational interview with professionals at the company you’ve been stalking on Twitter. Shadow a local business owner and learn about entrepreneurship. Sometimes the market for our job field isn’t as large as we’d like, but there are opportunities to learn wherever you’re located. Who knows? Those interactions might uncover a hidden talent or passion that might lead you one step closer to the career of your dreams.