I’m going to start this off by saying I have absolutely no qualification to tell you if you’re in the right major or not beyond experience as a long-time manager of young professionals and someone who has hired a lot of recent graduates. We have a wonderful Major Exploration department at OU that has real advice. But, I’m going to tell you what I tell students when they ask me about what major they should choose.
I had the wonderful opportunity to teach Brandt‘s Gateway class this week about my experience as an advertising major and how that took me from a brand manager at The Richards Group to my current role. In the class, I wanted them each to ask me a question. While some asked about my baby (it’s hard not to gush about #Yarbaby), some asked me questions about their major and how to figure out what job they should get after college. So, here is the advice I shared.
- How do you know if you’re in the right major? Do you enjoy what you’re learning? Do you feel like you’re developing skills and knowledge? Major in something that when you get to your senior year and have to pull all-nighters to get the work done that it’s work you’re excited about. Don’t major in something because you think it will be easy. Major in something because (maybe even for the first time in your life) you WANT to learn and put in the hours. That’s when you know you’ve found the right major. Though, I’ll also say that if you’re in your senior year and aren’t enjoying the work that you should just suck it up and graduate. Getting a degree in something you’re not interested in is still far more important than not getting a degree because school became too much of a burden. Graduate in 4!
- How do you know what you should do when you graduate? This isn’t just going to come to you one night in a dream. You have to try out different jobs and figure out what skills you have that set you apart from others. I’ll say more on this later, but if you don’t intern somewhere or shadow someone, how are you supposed to know what the real world will be like in a specific job? I interned for the director of events at Walt Disney World and I realized very quickly that I didn’t want his job. I very easily could have decided that I wanted to be an event planner if I hadn’t had that experience, though. So, you have to try out different jobs.
- What if I get to the end of my senior year and I STILL don’t know what I want to do? That’s okay! Most people won’t know their career path for many years after college. Therefore, you have to do SOMETHING. Work somewhere and start figuring out where you excel, what you enjoy, and where others value you. I don’t care where you work after college, but work SOMEWHERE. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT go home to live until you figure out what you want to do with your life. The longer you wait to enter a career path the longer it will be for you to get where you will eventually want to be. I hate to tell you this, but most people do not have a perfect job right after college. Start your career immediately after you graduate and your perfect job might eventually find you if you work really hard at it.
- What is the most important thing that you look at on a resume? I don’t care what your GPA is, I don’t even care what your major is. However, those are critical pieces to get an internship. What I’m looking for out of recent graduates is your experience. Everyone should have at least 2 internships.
- Find an internship that will help you learn and develop excellent skills. This is your practical internship where you become more of an expert.
- Find one with a great name behind it. I interned at Walt Disney World for 8 months in college and even though I had ad agency experience as well, all anyone wanted to talk about was my Disney experience. Disney taught me a LOT of life lessons and helped me become fiercely driven and independent, but it didn’t necessarily directly coordinate with advertising.
There are other things as well that you should be thinking about in college to help you become a better citizen and adult. Study abroad and gain life experiences, be involved and develop wonderful relationships, find mentors in your professors, and go see every President’s Associates lecture on campus that you can. If you don’t take advantage of these experiences, you’ll regret it when you graduate. Make the most out of your experience here!