College Majors Becoming Obsolete When Job Hunting1
College is a time for exploration, making new friends, and discovering who you are and, as any college freshman knows, a time to declare a major. But in today’s changing employment environment college graduates do not have as strong a hand in finding a job as they used to. In many cases, current degree programs allow students to understand their course of study better, without giving them the job skills that they need to actually fulfill their dreams.
One graduate from a highly regarded journalism degree program put it this way: “The day I graduated from school, I was on top of the world. The following week, I was herded into a room with twenty other recent grads, where a famous senior editor told us that graduating from a school of journalism didn’t make us journalists. It only proved that we might have the necessary talent to become journalists someday. He told us to look to our right and to our left, and then told us that only one out of the three of us would make it through the first year. He were right. Studying journalism only prepared us to study journalism. It didn’t actually prepare us to do journalism.”
Jeff Maguire, of College View, a website that assists parents and students with decisions about college, says, “In college, your most important task is to learn and begin to take charge of your life by making your own choices. In fact, what you are expected to do is more than likely exactly what you would like to do: learn more about intriguing subjects and spend lots of time with your friends.” The importance of graduating with a degree outweighs the declared major, often because the course material delivered in many majors programs are obsolete, increasing the need for specialized cross-discipline programs such as internships and apprenticeships.
Taking a degree in a specific major, as opposed to a general degree, gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in that field of study. It is a chance to study what you love but, in real world of the employment marketplace, fewer employers are looking at graduate’s major as proof of employability. The degree itself show that the applicant has the perseverance to complete the degree program, but does not indicate that the graduate as the work experience to go along with the work ethic. Alexa Meyer, a recent college graduate, concedes, “Your major is not the be all, end all to your career. Pick a major in a field you enjoy and at the end of the day it is really about who you know.”
It has been found that specialized work skills are even more important than degrees. Michael Bernick for TIME emphasizes, “Employers seek people with skills that apply to the particular job—and who have the ability to solve problems and work in a team.” Going to college does not guarantee a job, it guarantees an education. While the benefit of further education looks good to an employer, the lack of job specific skills does not. According to Jeffery Selingo of The New York Times, “Hiring managers complain that they often find today’s college graduates lacking in interpersonal skills, problem solving, effective written and oral communication skills, the ability to work in teams, and critical and analytical thinking.”
Extra-curricular opportunities in college, such as internships, apprenticeships, study programs and co-operative programs, allow students to gain more real-life work experience while earning a degree. An article written by a writer at World Wide Learn, a college resource website, claims, “Employers rely on these supervised work experiences as an opportunity to bridge the gap between formal learning and on-the-job skill building. Apprenticeships offer students the chance to really understand the demands of a profession before moving on their first full-time jobs.” With these experiences available, the transition from school to the “real world” is a little easier.
Ivy league schools, while giving a better education than most, do not guarantee a job right out of college either. Alexander C. Kauffman of The Huffington Post says, “Of course, an education from one of the northeast’s elite league of colleges can earn graduates loads of money and satisfaction over a lifetime. But according to a data collected by the salary research firm PayScale, no Ivy League school cracks the top 10 when it comes to early career pay or how meaningful graduates find their jobs.” While going to an Ivy League school can increase your pay grade over a lifetime, and creates a lasting career, ivy league graduates struggle too. Kauffman found that specialized schools, such as technical schools, get students into careers faster than the Ivy League does. With their specific work experience and focused drive, they look more appealing to employers for certain positions, especially in the manual trades and technical fields.
Your college major does not really matter all that much to future employers, but students are able to assist themselves in regards to job opportunities after college. With internships and apprenticeships available, students can add experience to their résumés along with a degree. Students need to remember that employers are not looking at majors, instead they are looking at the degree and work experience.