By Mayibel Ruiz
Choosing a major in college feels like a big deal when you’re starting as a freshman, but how important is the major you choose? Are there majors that help their graduates secure a job, or are there other factors at play?
With the upcoming spring 2022 graduation, future college graduates wonder when they should start applying for jobs in their field. Everyone graduates ready to begin their new life after college, but this new life most likely begins with a new job. How can students know what career is the best fit? We have all heard of the age-old career advice given to college students, secure an internship early, join clubs on campus, and network. But, if internships, networking, and volunteering are essential when
entering the workforce, why are there college graduates who enter career fields outside of their majors?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, college degrees don’t always tie into a career choice for business degree majors. Four out of the top employing occupations for workers with a business degree require no college degree at all. However, other times advanced degrees are necessary for top employment opportunities. Forty-four percent of college graduates with a social science degree pursue advanced degrees, and 48% of college graduates with a psychology degree pursue advanced degrees. In contrast, 25% of business degree majors seek an advanced degree. This data shows that college graduates with psychology and a social science degree are more likely to pursue an advanced
degree due to entry-level occupational requirements.
Internships are a vital resume builder. An internship allows students to gain industry- relevant experience with a company. The projects you work on tell future employers whether you’re prepared to join their company. An internship will enable students to understand the job and the company without the commitment of a full-time employee faces. This clarity allows students to decide whether they want to continue in that career after graduation or if another career is a better fit.
In a study measuring the importance of internships before full-time employment, Stephanie L. Dailey found “over 60% of college graduates have completed an internship before entering the full-time workforce.” The study showed that internships increase confidence, decrease job anxiety, and socially prepare students to navigate work environment dynamics. However, the data showed that out of 49 interns participating in the study, 22% continued to work full-time for the same company. While the majority of the participating interns found that the company they completed their internship with was not a match for their long-term goals. Paid apprenticeships and internships provide students with occupational clarity on the company’s inner workings and the job. This occupational clarity is helpful to students upon graduation.
Even if an internship does not lead to full-time employment, the 49 students in the study still displayed increased confidence levels and overall job readiness when entering the workforce, which is a positive tie to career development.
Landing your first full-time job after graduation is dependent on how well you can network. College students can do networking in person or online with platforms like Linkedin available to college students. There is a learning curve when you’re networking on platforms like LinkedIn; not only do you have to learn how to use keywords to make yourself visible to recruiters. As a college student, you have to be an active user and message company hiring recruiters to learn about career opportunities through networking.
In a 2018 study on college students’ use of Linkedin for job searches and professional networking, the study estimated that 40 million profiles on Linkedin are either college student or recent college graduate profiles. In an online survey, 107 college students answered questions regarding their use of Linkedin to professionally network and to secure internships. The study found that Linkedin networking is essential for ensuring internships and jobs for college students. However, college students use Linkedin passively to network, with 60% of the participants spending less than one hour a week on LinkedIn. Despite students understanding that participants on LinkedIn need to network to make career connections, students still used LinkedIn passively because students used Linkedin as a search engine to find internships and job opportunities.
As college students begin to look for full-time employment after graduation, it’s important not to stress out if your major doesn’t line up precisely with the career you want to explore. Often, other factors play into career development, such as internship experience and networking, that help you stand out as a well-rounded professional.