Written by Christina Beningfield, English, Class of 2018
Last week, I visited a Public Relations firm to listen to a panel of account executives describe the kind of work their company does. That conversation transitioned into what kind of employees they look for in the hiring process, which led to an interesting discovery. At this specific company, they look for individuals who know what they are passionate about. Regardless of college major, there is more value in being able to articulate your interests and highlight creative initiative rather than relying on your degree to tell your story. So how do we justify our area of study?
I think the number one thing students hear when coming to college is “What are you going to do with that major?” It’s remarkable what the adults in our lives will say when they offer their opinions on our choices. How many mothers insist you become a doctor? How many uncles will swear by business school? It’s hard to keep in mind that even though you want to please the people in your life, you still have to look out for the person that matters most. You.
I listened to the people around me, back when I was a high school senior, still blissfully in the loving cocoon of childhood and no responsibilities. I heard “Major in something practical. You need a job afterwards, you know.” I heard “Listen. Take a science. There aren’t enough women in STEM. Job security for sure.” My parents crumbled under the outside pressure from colleagues and friends who had children in college. “Don’t let her have you pay for a useless degree.” What’s a useless degree? A Bachelor’s degree is basically required in any career field with a higher salary… how can going to college for four years be useless?
For the first year and a half of college, I studied biology. I thought I was going to be a doctor, because sure, I could do that, no problem. Then I thought, maybe I’ll be a dentist instead. Then I thought that maybe I would be a microbiologist. Then I didn’t know what I was going to do at all. What was I supposed to do with biology, the seemingly useful major that would grant me job security? Even this degree would be of no use if I wasn’t interested in my job options.
So what did I do? I changed my major to English and added a music minor. The floofiest combination possible, or so says my father. What am I going to do with that? What I’m trying to get at here is that it doesn’t matter what you choose to major in, you’re going to find your way. It’s very easy to say that a degree in electrical engineering will land you a job in a top industry that design circuits or researches cleaner energy. It’s easy to say that all biology majors will graduate from medical school. But we know that this isn’t reality, so why do we and everyone else put so much pressure on our choice of major?
No matter what major you’re in now, the humanities, the sciences, mathematics, anything. Study something that inspires you, that intrigues you. I have loved playing music since I was six years old, and I was writing silly short stories before that too. I am learning about subjects that have always been a part of my life, that ignite a fire within me. That is what gets you a career; feeding your passions and learning all you can to prepare you for a career you care about.