Why My Major Won’t Limit My Career

Here’s something they won’t tell you at orientation: your degree doesn’t decide your life. At the end of the day, it’s your experiences and knowledge that get you your dream job ––, not the framed piece of paper you worked four years for. For me, finally coming to terms with this wasn’t exactly easy.

Attending college at one of the best communications schools in the country has its drawbacks –– too many options, for one. While most schools only have a one-size-fits-all major in communications, at the University of Florida we’re lucky to have not only a whole college devoted to journalism and communications but four majors and countless career tracks within them.

When it came to deciding my major, I had to put aside my fears and anxieties that told me that my 11” by 14” piece of paper would dictate what I did for the rest of my life.

With a passion for both social media management and magazines, I was torn between advertising and journalism. It just came down to trying different classes to see which major was best for me. Ultimately, I felt that journalism classes would help me grow and learn the most for what I wanted to do career-wise, even if one day I decided to take it in a different direction. But even with this in mind, it was still hard to entirely let go of my inhibitions until I learned firsthand on the job just how transferable all communications experience really is.

Fast forward to when it was time to start applying for internships, and I didn’t know where to begin. I knew I was going to be gone for a month of summer to study abroad in Italy, so that eliminated all of the 12-week long internship opportunities. If I worked into mid-August, I could manage a 10-week internship, but even then, my options were still limited. There was no way I could intern at a large magazine. There were no notable magazine companies anywhere near Orlando, my hometown, and I hadn’t spent a summer home in two years, so traveling was out of the equation. The only opportunities left were social media and public relations internships, but I had no social media experience on my resume. I felt so discouraged because I thought all of my editorial experience would go to waste. It wasn’t until I found ‘journalism’ under the list of majors on job listings that certain companies were looking for as interns for their social media departments.

By some miracle, the day before I left for Italy, I got an offer to become a social media intern in downtown Orlando for a company that had large clients like Walt Disney World, Lockheed Martin, Universal Orlando Resort and even UF. Two weeks after accepting and embarking on my Italy adventure, I received an offer for another internship I applied for, to assist a photographer and micro-influencer with her Instagram game. It was remote and convenient for my schedule, so I was able to swing two great internships in social media. But my dreams of working for a magazine were put on hold. Although now I see this as irrational, I genuinely feared that with each bit of experience I gained in social media, the further away I was getting from the magazine industry.

One day I received a message on LinkedIn asking if I would be interested in interviewing for my dream internship at one of my favorite theme parks. I was shocked –– I didn’t even apply! After the excitement settled in, I had to explain that I wouldn’t be able to because of prior commitments for the Fall semester. Weeks later, I received another message asking if I could interview for spring. Obviously, I jumped on this opportunity.

Halfway through the first day of Fall semester, I received a call that would change the rest of my school year: after three interviews, I got the internship!

But it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for what I had accomplished through mediums like Her Campus, Odyssey and other editorial portfolio boosters. At the second interview, they didn’t even want to hear about my social media experience anymore. The deal breaker was the editorial experience. The way it was explained to me was that one cannot exist without the other. The tools used in social media management and editorial work are not only recommended but required in both fields.

While I don’t know where I’ll be or what my future holds, I know this –– if I had been an advertising major, I wouldn’t have had the editorial experience I needed to get my dream internship. It’s not to say that you can’t have editorial experience while majoring in advertising, I just know that if I had, I personally wouldn’t have even bothered with editorial work. At the end of the day, it’s not the major, it’s what you do with it. Since I’m in journalism, I felt that I needed to load myself with editorial work, which ended up working out for me. But what it comes down to is just experience and the unique knowledge that you bring to the job.