Choosing a major in college can be one of the most difficult decisions a college student makes. It’s like standing in a room with a hundred different doors. So many options, but you can only pick one or two. Which brings up a great question: does your major really matter?
According to a recent study (which you can find here), only 27% of college grads end up working in a job that’s affiliated with their field of study. So, what’s the point you may ask? Well, getting a college degree in a major that you enjoy can create opportunities for growth financially, mentally, and emotionally.
At the Career & Internship Expo, there was a person who has created her own career path based off of a passion. Heather Pedersen is a Human Resources Recruiter at Endeavor Air. Since she works at an airline, people might automatically assume that she must have studied aviation or business while in college. Surprise, surprise, her educational background is a bit more unconventional. Here’s what Heather had to say:
“History has always been a passion of mine (and no, it’s not just remembering dates of events, which can be boring!). I am interested in wanting to understand the whys and hows. What decisions were made previously and why? How do those decisions affect our world/life today? I was a History major and added a minor in Business Management the spring of my sophomore year.
I never doubted my choice as a history major – I consider myself lucky to have had a good support system. However, the first time I’d meet people, professors, or employers and many would ask, “what are you going to do with a history degree? Teach? Go to law school?”
I had no interest in either. However, I’d tell them about the transferable skills I was learning that would convert into the business world. These include:
- Communicating – being able to clearly write, speak and present your thoughts, ideas, and actions
- Researching – knowing where to find and sort through information to focus on what you need to complete the project
- Critical thinking/problem solving – being able to critically look at a situation, understand the forces of what’s going on, and creatively come up with a solution
- Analytical skills – being able to analyze data, numbers and communicate it appropriately
- Ability to work independently and time management – be able to complete projects and tasks in a certain time frame as well as the ability to stay on task without a supervisor managing my schedule
- Understanding of differences which influences others – we live in a very diverse society and knowing and understanding history can make us more appreciative of where the world is today
During freshmen year, I was hired by the Human Resources department as the Student Assistant part-time. During my senior year, I was promoted to a full-time position – this was during the Recession. I felt very fortunate to have a job and was very excited by all the experience I was receiving during school. I worked with very encouraging HR professionals who gave me great experience and advice to take with me to my next position.
I added on a Business minor due to working in HR part-time. However, because I had hands-on HR experience, I found most of the business classes boring. The case studies I read were boring as they were fictional compared to the actual hands-on decisions and problem solving I was completing for my job!
After working full time for one year, I took time off to travel. When I started looking for a job a few months later, I was encouraged to look at the airline industry as I had family members who had industry experience. I found an opening as a Human Resources Clerk and due to my experience and networking, I got the job. That position wasn’t everything I wanted – I was stuck in a file room for the first 3 months – but it allowed me to gain additional HR experience and the ability to network and get to know others at the Company. When that company closed its doors, I was easily able to start at another airline due to networking.
I love that I have a History major – it’s also a great talking point when I meet others in the business world who have a history major! I still utilize my History major in a hobby of mine (Genealogy).
Remember to enjoy the classes you take and don’t sign up for a class (unless it’s a Gen Ed) that you aren’t excited to take. You are paying for your education and there are many transferable skills from each class you take which can be applied to the business world. In addition, know yourself – if you know what you want to be (such as a pilot) – go for it! But study something you’re interested in because you’ll be that much more engaged.”
— If you’re interested in exploring your major options check out all of the resources available at www.mnsu.edu/cdc/majors or stop by the Career Development Center and make an appointment.