Tag Archives: College

My #1 piece of advice for picking a college major.

your major doesn't matter

Steven S. via Flickr

Are you torn between a “practical” major that offers a clear career trajectory and the course of study that speaks to your heart but feels useless when it comes to finding a job?  If so, you’re not alone.

It’s a tough decision, so let me offer one insight that I hope will make it easier:

Your major does not matter.

A degree is important to your career and will impact the kinds of jobs you get, but in most cases, your focus of study is irrelevant.  Employers want to know that you can complete something, that you have had exposure to a wider world view and that you have the basic skills needed for the knowledge economy:

  • teamwork and leadership
  • critical thinking and problem solving
  • the ability to synthesize and present information
  • self-direction
  • digital competency

These are skills you can develop in ANY degree program.  Your specific, and ultimately most marketable, skills will be learned outside of school – in your first job, in your volunteer work, in whatever side-hustle you’ve put together.

Yes, higher education is hugely expensive and it’s important to make it a worthy investment.  But you know that – you don’t need all the caveats from me.  Do your research. Talk to your professors and counselors.  And then, if your path is still unclear, just choose a topic that is going to hold your interest for 4 years.

Focus on learning and exploring.  If you’re in the Humanities, take a few business courses.  If you’re into science or technology, take some Philosophy courses.  Be open and creative.

And most of all, don’t confine yourself to what you think you know about your future career path.  It will emerge on the job, as you discover your professional interests and strengths.

It will not be what you expect and that is a good thing.

 

(Photo by Steven S. via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Advertisements

5 Ways for Students to Gain Management Experience

First Student #281 (cropped) by ThoseGuys119
You don’t need to be a business major to benefit from gaining management experience.  With a BA in Anthropology, I speak from experience when I say most of us don’t end up using our specific degrees in our careers…at least, not directly.

It’s hard to know what you want to do with your life while you’re still in school.  And who knows what the job market will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years anyway?  So the smart money is on building skills that will open up the widest range of options for yourself in the future.

Whatever industry you eventually choose, the ability to effectively manage a team will put you a step ahead of other entry-level professionals.

Here’s how to get that management experience before entering the workforce:

Mentoring and Tutoring
Being a mentor is a great way to build interpersonal and coaching skills.  Tutoring will teach you to train, motivate and evaluate individual performance.  Take it a step further and start your own mentoring or tutoring program to gain experience building and managing a team.

Event Planning
Putting together a conference, lecture series or movie night allows you to demonstrate your ability to effectively coordinate people and resources.  Events are perfect for learning how to delegate, resolve conflict and work with service providers.

Volunteering
Volunteering for a good cause is rewarding work experience and many organizations are looking for someone willing to take on a specific project.  Create your own management training by putting together a project team and motivating them to succeed.

Industry organizations are also a great opportunity to volunteer for outreach or other service projects.  They also often have elected leadership positions that require management skills (meeting facilitation, financial management, etc.).

Entrepreneurship
Starting your own business is a great way to learn any number of management related skills.  Solopreneurs won’t gain much people-management experience, so create a business plan that requires you to bring on team members.

Student Government
Student government can offer many leadership opportunities beyond just running for class president.  Start a club or organize a service project.  Coordinate campus tours or create a mentoring program for incoming students.  Student government is also a great way to hone your public speaking skills.

 

And remember…employers are always thinking about how to manage and motivate the next generation of employees.  Experience managing your peers has put you a step ahead, so highlight that in your resume, portfolio and online profile.

 

(Photo by ThoseGuys119 via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)