How to Become More Than Your Major to Recruiters
“So you want to make movies or something?”
That’s the first question people ask when they hear I majored in Film and Television — an odd choice for someone with no intention of entering either industry.
Yet switching out of Economics was one of the best decisions I made as an undergrad. The courses offered in my department were not only interesting, but they also granted me the flexibility to take interdisciplinary courses, as well as electives, ranging from Astronomy and Satire to Chinese and Corporate Social Responsibility.
When you interview for jobs, the first questions every interviewer will ask are, “Tell me about yourself,” followed by, “Why did you choose this major?”
There’s a common misperception that your major is the most important factor in your college career and to recruiters. In some ways, it is, but to all you Liberal Arts majors, not all hope is lost! After going through the painstaking experience of doing interview after interview, I realized why I was more than just my major. And when I told them why, the negative connotations of a “Film Major” immediately meant little to employers.
This may be a dilemma you face right now. You love art or literature, but have no idea how to justify your passion to a recruiter looking for office skills. I’m here to tell you to major in whatever you want, as long as you keep these four tips in mind.
Take Courses in Topics That Interest You
Study everything that interests you. Almost all colleges will let you take electives outside of your discipline, so use this opportunity to truly broaden your horizons.
For my electives, I took classes in entrepreneurship, marketing, sustainability, Chinese, Spanish, Astronomy, etc. And some of these courses ended up being the most rewarding, despite being completely outside my major. Had I not done this, I’d be a much different person.
Also, don’t double major unless you’re 100 percent in love with both of them; consider adding a minor instead. Don’t be afraid to take random classes and take them often. You’ll be glad you did.
Learn Outside of Class
This may seem like common sense, but it was worth repeating: The classroom is not the only place to learn. You can learn by volunteering, joining a club, getting a job, reading, the possibilities are limitless. Don’t spend your free time watching television or surfing Reddit! Instead, use that free time to teach yourself valuable skills, like programming, Photoshop, Microsoft Office, or even take classes online.
Your Major Does Not Define You, Work Experience Does
Internships, internships, internships! I can’t stress this enough. Not only will an internship give you an idea of the “real world,” it is an opportunity to learn, reflect, and act.
Your work experience is the most important part of your resume.
A fancy private school degree will mean very little if you have no work experience to back it up. Plus, you won’t know if you truly enjoy a profession until you actually do it.
Connect the Dots
Steve Jobs describes it perfectly:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Stanford Commencement Address, 2005
If you can explain to recruiters how your work in sociology applies to your marketing aspirations, perfect. Being a learner outside the classroom and outside of your major shows recruiters you’re more than capable of adapting to the ever-changing market. It’ll show them you’re hungry to be the best person you can be — ready to take on any challenge that heads your way.
You will not be the same person leaving college as you were when you first entered. Your interests will change, as will your hobbies, friends, professional aspirations, and relationships. And chances are, you’re going to change your major many times (or four, in my case) and that’s perfectly okay.
The most important part is to never stop improving yourself by acquiring new skills, work experience, and deeply exploring what interests you. So when you snag an interview, you can confidently tell the recruiter why you are much more than your major.
This guest post was written by Benjamin Kim. Ben is a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in Film and Television Studies. He is currently interning at RedHoop, a website that helps self-directed learners further their education by making it easier to search for online courses. For any questions, clarifications, or comments, he can be reached at bkim.co.
Image: Penn State