How to get your dream job with the “wrong major”

Has your idea of what career you want to pursue changed since your freshman year? That’s perfectly normal. Many students either start college with no idea what they want to major in or start with an idea of what they want to pursue, only to realize that it doesn’t excite them in the way they thought it would. In these cases, it is possible to discover that your school doesn’t offer the major that would open the door for your dream career. So what is there to do then? You can transfer schools in order to attend one that offers what you want to do, but there might be some difficulties with transferring credits and obtaining scholarships (although this is not always the case); however it is not always necessary to transfer to another school just because of your major. The reality is, majors do not matter as much as you think they do. Unless you are seeking a career in the STEM field, the skills and knowledge developed in your courses can be transferable. Your skills and experiences are way more likely to get you the job than simply having a degree in the right subject. A degree without an in-demand skill set is not as valuable. This is why even when your school does offer your major, you still need to find out which skills are demanded for the jobs you want and to figure out how you can obtain them. Here are a few ways you can make yourself a competitive candidate without having the “right major.”

  1. 1. Talk to your school’s Career Development Office about what options are available for you. 

    Your school’s Career Development office is knowledgeable about how to pursue your career. At Agnes Scott College, we have a team of excellent Career Coaches who specialize in different career communities. You can schedule appointments to meet with these Career Coaches. They can give you one-on-one coaching to make you aware of experiences that may help you make the best career decisions. At other colleges, the availability of this level of coaching may vary, but all schools should have some form of Career Development support system for their students.

  2. 2. Look at job descriptions to determine what skills and experiences are most commonly sought after in that field. 

    This is the best way to figure out what you need in order to get a job because it shows you the criteria by which the recruiters are seeking potential candidates. Make sure you focus on jobs that match your skills and experience when you are looking at the job description (for example: if you are an undergraduate with no experience, you should not be looking at senior-level roles just yet, look at the entry-level job descriptions). Focus on what you need to do to get your foot in the door first, and the rest as it comes. 

  3. 3. Actively apply for internship opportunities in the field. 

    Internship opportunities are a great way to gain professional experience. In internships, the connections you make are as important as the work you do. Not all internships will be perfect experiences so it’s important to get as many as you can. They can teach you about what aspects of the job you're considering and which aspects you don't like. It can also teach you whether or not you think the parts you don’t enjoy are worth enduring. 

  4. 4. Join clubs and student organizations. 

    Clubs and student organizations are not only a great way for you to get involved with your campus and to make new connections, but can also help you develop professional skills and explore your personal and professional interests.

Using this advice, you should be able to change your mindset from focusing on your major to focusing on experience. Even if you do major in something you would like to pursue, it is still critical for you to do your best to acquire the desired skills in your dream field. You can do this. Opportunities are available in abundance if you seek them. Especially in the remote world in which as long as you have a computer, you can take advantage of remote internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. Good luck with your journey!