I’ve been a full-time salaried journalist for four years now. I’ve worked in huge newsrooms and covered the presidential election in 2016. I did not study journalism in college and I definitely won’t study journalism if I choose to go to grad school one day. I truly believe landing a job you are passionate about after graduation does not depend on your college major.
I cannot tell you how many times people shrieked at me when I told them I was studying History. There were countless times I was asked what I would do with my degree, if I wanted to be a teacher or work in a museum, etc etc. It really bothered me. So many people thought it made no sense that I used my scholarship to get a degree in History.
At some point, I just stopped explaining why I chose my major. I knew that to be a good journalist I needed to know how to extensively research, write and understand context. And at the end of the day, I was just really happy studying History. I studied what I loved, not what I thought would lead me to go a good job. I hope others can take something away from this.
EMPLOYERS DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR DEGREE
Someone will hire you because of your experience, not your degree. Never once has a future employer questioned why I studied History. They saw my many internships at top organizations and portfolio. This is what got me hired. To me, journalism is a trade and you can only learn how to be a good journalist with on-the-job training. Don’t choose a major based on what you think employers want. My biggest advice is to get as much experience as you can in whatever field you want to enter by doing internships, volunteering, etc.
CAREERS AREN’T LINEAR ANYMORE
Traditional career paths are becoming more and more non-existent. For example, you don’t need to study biology to go to dental school anymore. As long as you complete the required prerequisites, you can study Spanish and still go on to become a doctor. I really love this story about a Linguistics major who went on to med school. I believe in choosing a broad major that will teach you a lot of different skills because it will make you a more versatile job candidate and you can transition those skills if your dream job doesn’t work out.
DEGREES DON’T KEEP UP WITH CHANGING INDUSTRIES
Almost every industry looks a lot different than it did ten years ago, even five years ago. The curriculum in many schools just can’t keep up with these changes. For example being a social media consultant, drone operator or podcast producer are all fairly new jobs. These are positions that are advancing every day. You don’t want to risk going into debt for a degree that will essentially be useless in a few years. This is why I stress getting work experience because you can only keep up with an evolving industry, when you are actually working in that industry.
YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR OWN HAPPINESS
One of my hobbies is calligraphy. Most full-time calligraphers I come across didn’t study art or design. Many came from professional backgrounds like law and government. They tell stories about how they were trying to please their parents and put their true passions on the back burner. (Watch one of my favorite calligraphers Shinah talk about her story). You can’t follow someone else’s dream. I truly believe that when you major in something you are really interested in, then your success will follow.
Attending college and obtaining a degree is really important, as we all know. However, there are so many jobs that don’t correlate to any particular major. If you have many different interests then double major. I wish I had done this (but I was too determined to get out of college quickly lol). The takeaway I hope you get from this is to not box yourself into a major that is too niche or specific. Just focus on a major where your skills are transferable across several industries.