Everybody, regardless of field of study, is going to hate this question: What are you going to do with your major? The question often comes from classmates, family members and friends who either do not like the choice you have made or do not understand the first thing about your field of study. They wonder about job opportunities and how you will survive financially post-graduation. Some of us may have our dream job in mind, right down to exactly what kind of office we want and how our everyday routine will look. Some may have a foggy idea.
But this can be dangerous. It is okay to have a dream job; it offers us something to strive toward and motivation for getting through the drudgery of classes. Fantasy jobs are fine — until they stop us from stepping out of the box.
If we only ever take opportunities that match the dream, we may miss something that opens our eyes to something great. Even worse, we may not realize until it’s too late that we hate our original plan. Working within your degree is crucial to figuring out what you do and do not want to do. We cannot sustain a dream job without testing the waters leading up to it. What if your dream is to be a high school teacher, but you never test a substitute teaching position or work as a student tutor? These positions are not perfect fits for the overall goal, yet they offer some of the same work that you would encounter later on. Try it out first before you get yourself into a situation where you suddenly realize you hate teaching, or whatever it is that you want to do.
Statistics vary, but the general consensus states that a large majority of college graduates, around 70 percent and upward, do not work within their field of study. This misalignment with careers beyond college is not the end of the world. It merely shows that some jobs are scarce and what’s available after graduation will not necessarily be that grand plan we have been picturing for years. Having experience in other, irrelevant fields may be the saving grace from having nothing post-graduation. The job market needs to be approached with an open mind.
On the flip-side, putting down another field of study because it doesn’t align with what we expect of ourselves or what we understand is ridiculous. To a student in engineering, studying English might seem “easy” or “pointless.” But the lessons are challenging and meaningful for all students, regardless of subject. We cannot all study the same career track. Imagine the chaos of thousands of students studying nursing and nothing else; other fields would collapse, and competition would be brutal. There is a reason we are in college, pursuing our own interests. Pay no mind to those that refuse to understand the “point” of your degree. It only matters that you keep your mind open and explore the field outside of whatever lines you have drawn for yourself. Don’t box yourself in. Play around with your dreams.