I’m sure by now many of you have heard of reddit (for those who haven’t, I don’t recommend looking it up; it succeeds as a procrastination tool). I was browsing the site in another effort to test my potential for working under pressure when I came across a post regarding career fairs. To sum it up, the creator of the original post and some of the responders believed that career fairs weren’t very useful, while others despaired over the “uselessness” of their majors. Until I became a peer advisor, I shared the same beliefs. I thought my degree in psychology would be a one way ticket to a career as a WalMart supervisor, but I now know this is not the case.
Unfortunately, some have made the error of believing that tech-related or business degrees are the only tickets to success. This toxic thought impedes them from being proactive without looking into different options. Here are a few suggestions on how to take hold of your career, regardless of your major.
Suggestion One: Gain Relevant Experience
I won’t sugar coat things. Some majors are more helpful and have more advantages than other majors. Realistically speaking, an English major would have difficulty acquiring a job as a software engineer without having the experience. But herein rests a solution: if you want to be a software engineer, all you need are the skills. A degree in computer science (CS) isn’t always required. For example, some job postings might say something like “BA/BS required, Proficiency in C++”. What this means is they want someone who has graduated and has knowledge with C++. Obviously a degree in CS would be helpful, but meeting the requirements and demonstrating you possess the skills is enough to make you a tough competitor. Additionally, your background as an English major will definitely bring some diversity to the team.
Now, there are any number of ways to getting experience. If you wanted to learn C++, you can pick up a book or even take a class in the CS department. You don’t need to feel restricted to one area of study; when it comes to your skills and abilities it’s always good to diversify. This idea can be applied to any field. You simply have to ask yourself two questions, “What do I want to do and how can I get the experience necessary to do it?”. The first question is one only YOU can answer, but if you are having difficulty answering the latter, you can start by looking on ONET and researching the knowledge and skills necessary for the position.
Suggestion Two: Get to know people
“About 49% of jobs are found through networking”
This is what a recruiter told us during the Diversity Recruiter Panel two weeks ago. Our peer, Jiwon, wrote a terrific blog on networking last week so I won’t go into too much detail, but networking in this job market is extremely helpful. The more people you come into contact with, the more your network expands, and the more the chance arises of someone keeping you in mind when a position within their company becomes available. Performing informational interviews with people in your desired career or speaking with recruiters from your interested company are two ways to spread your network. Who knows if that art curator you had an informational interview with is interested in having an intern? Do you think they will want to go through the application/interview process or just ask you, who they know has a genuine interest, if you’d be interested?
Final Suggestion: Be proactive and have a positive mindset.
“The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation”
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
None of what’s been written here will make any difference if YOU don’t actively do your part in establishing your life post-Cal. You can sit around and mope that your degree in philosophy is “useless”, but it won’t change a darn thing. If you don’t know where to start, write down a list of your skills and match them up with the job you want. If you’re completely lost, you can also take our Focus-2 online assessment found on Callisto or make a 45-min appointment with a career counselor to visit your options. Either way, you should not get discouraged; you have many resources at your disposal, all aimed to make launching your career a bit easier.
Blog written by: Oscar Mestizo, 4th year Psychology major