When I was in college at UC Berkeley, I spent hours agonizing over my major. Should I do English? Communications? Art history? I wanted to be a fashion writer, a career that Berkeley did not promote. It was so hard for me to decide that in the end, a week before the deadline to declare a major my junior year, I didn’t decide. I became an “interdisciplinary fields study” major, which basically allowed me to create my own curriculum. My focus? Fashion studies. Deep down I hoped that what a recent Forbes story discusses—that my college major wouldn’t matter so much in terms of helping me get a job—was true. As it turns out, that is the case for many graduates. Here’s why:
- Your degree is a prerequisite for the competitive workforce; the topic is irrelevant. These days employers don’t really care what you majored in; it’s more important simply to have attended college.
- Certain fields yield higher incomes, but your major does not need to align with the industry. According to the Forbes piece, “The real world doesn’t care about your degree as much as your work ethic and attitude.” It’s true—and my career (and those of many people I know) is in point.
- Your experience, be it on the job or off, is what people notice.
- Think soft skills, not major topics. Employers want to know that you can solve problems, communicate clearly, and think critically—what you majored in has nothing to do with demonstrating these skills.
- You’re a better performer when you’re aligned with your purpose. “Purpose gives you unprecedented energy. If you major in a field you’re truly interested in, you will give it the effort, attention, and enthusiasm that translates into success.”
- Your network matters way more than your college major. Just because you choose a major that correlates with a high-paying job doesn’t mean you’re going to strike it rich. There are so many other factors, and one that’s important is knowing the right people. This is one of the reasons startups co-founded by Ivy Leaguers are more likely to excel: They have strong networks.
Heading to college soon? You’ll need a planner to keep you organized and on top of things.
What did you major in? Has it been important to your career? Tell us below.