During our student “Ask Me Anything” sessions, we heard a few variations of one question: “I majored in ______ because I love it, but now some related industries are struggling. Should I change my major?” Our volunteer career counselors agreed that in most cases: no, you don’t need to reactively change your major!
There is no way you could have predicted current events. You couldn’t have planned for social distancing, or for grocery lines to be that long. Lately, life has been shaken up in countless ways, and many things might feel unsure. By now, you’ve likely taken some time to soak it all in. For most, it’s been weeks spent missing the outside world, learning things about your isolation buddies, and trying to find a “new normal.”
You might be concerned about who’s hiring, or feel unsure about your internship prospects. In tumultuous moments, it’s understandable to question your path, but it doesn’t mean that switching your major is always the answer—especially if you’re already far along in your academic roadmap. We’ve said time and again that your major doesn’t have to determine your career. There are plenty of ways to build broadly applicable skills and feel secure in your area of study, even amid a changing landscape. Here are some ways to keep studying what you love, yet hone a diverse skillset that can be applied to a wide range of professions.
Enroll in classes that interest you
Focusing on major requirements is important, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore other courses. Consult with your advisor about terms when you have some free time in your schedule and pick a class that intrigues you. College should be the time to explore all your interests!
In these classes you’ll meet other department professors and students–expanding both your academic and social connections. Through learning and conversation, you might be able to connect the dots about intersections of your career interests.
Research job roles in other industries
Instead of dropping your area of study completely, it could be beneficial to take some time to learn about ways that your skills can translate to job roles you may never have considered. For example, English majors might have dreamed of becoming journalists, but many of their skills can also translate well to marketing, PR, and communications roles! Odds are, the scope of your major can equip you for a lot of different roles; it doesn’t hurt to assess these opportunities and brainstorm ways to practice relevant skills.
Foster new skills
Like taking major-agnostic classes you’re interested in, it’s also great to learn skills in other areas. After you’ve researched extra skills that you want to learn, you can begin your journey to mastering them. Maybe you want to become an expert on a certain subject, master a new editing program, or learn a specific coding language. If you have previous experiences in internships or jobs, start there; thinking back on your past work can be a great way to reflect on skills you might be particularly inclined toward.
Consult your career advisor
Before making any serious decisions about your academic and career path, it’s key to seek advice from somebody familiar with your specific circumstances. Reach out to the career services center at your university or alma mater to arrange an appointment with an advisor, who can review your transcript, listen to your concerns, and give actionable advice about your best move. Whether it means changing course in your studies after all or simply expanding your ideas about potential careers, an experienced professional can help guide you in the right direction.