Evelyn Ryozaki is an academic counselor at Cerritos College and a member of the iFALCON team.
What job can I get with a major in…?
Many students ask what jobs they can get with a particular major. Unless the major they ask about is highly technical or vocational, for example nursing, or welding, I usually answer, “I don’t know, people with lots of different majors get employed in lots of different jobs.” Majors are not necessarily connected to a job or career.
Many students have the idea that going to college is equated with getting a job, and therefore a major is related to a job. A college degree does not guarantee a job, no matter what major you select. However, Labor Department statistics show those that have college degrees have lower unemployment rates than the national average. They also show the more education you have, the greater your earnings.
So employers do prefer those who have degrees. What are they paying for?
Skills that you gain in college go way beyond subject matter. Many people do not use their undergraduate course contents in their jobs. I asked a number of the counselors at Cerritos this question, “What is the most important thing you learned in college?” Here are their answers.
To be resourceful
To manage time effectively
To take responsibility
To be accountable
To network with professionals, including making contacts, learning professional ethics, dressing appropriately, using professional manners
To be a resource for my peers and be a leader for a peer support group
To be independent
To deal with difficult situations and decisions
To critically analyze arguments, statements, issues, etc.
To look at things from different viewpoints
To learn how to learn about anything, to do research
To work with others on group projects
To be flexible
Not one counselor stated a specific fact or idea that came from their course content, even one from their major. The things they said are more important are the competencies they learned through successful completion of their classes that are not specific to subject matter.
Advancing your skills by completion of excellent coursework in courses which require analysis, synthesis, problem solving, good reading, writing, speaking skills, exploring new ideas and developing a work ethic are how you learn and practice skills employers want. In addition, linking up with internships, volunteer work, participating in clubs, teams, other student groups and exploring new experiences which require interaction provide opportunities to develop the ability to work in productive teams, to learn group problem solving and leadership skills.
The same skills that make you a successful student are the skills employers want. Your grades can show how well you’ve mastered these skills. Tony Wagner, an educator at the Harvard School of Education came up with 7 survival skills for careers, college and citizenship.
The attendance, participation, projects and assignments in your classes and the college extracurricular activities in which you participate are your chances to learn and practice your employable skills.
Your major should be selected based on your interests and curiosity, taking into consideration your level of commitment, motivation, academic preparation and abilities. Think about which major includes subjects or topics that you feel passionate about, excited by, inspired by, and use it to help you develop and practice your habits of mind.