The normal progression of a college student’s life starts with choosing a course to take and ideally ends in taking on a profession that, at the very least, mildly resembles the background of their college major. It isn’t far off, though, to see fresh college grads enter an industry that isn’t related to their course at all. Case in point: I took up a pre-medical course and initially believed I would be headed to med school right after college.
After graduating, however, I find myself with a psychology degree in hand, working in the digital publishing industry and writing about fashion and beauty trends. Here's what I learned from shifting to a career path that isn't related to my college major (or initial career plan):
It’s okay to not have everything figured out.
It’s cool if you’ve got your four-year #RoadToGrad game plan mapped out to a T, it’s also quite understandable and normal if you don’t have everything figured out yet. College lets you explore all sorts of options—which you should make the most of while you can. There’s still plenty of time to change your mind and pick up a new passion. From org events to electives, schools often have various avenues available for you to explore outside of your majors.
There is room to grow and explore outside of your majors.
There’s much to absorb outside of your four-walled classrooms and thousand-page textbooks. For instance, college organizations are a great place to hone professional practices and non-academic skills. You may be a biology major doing graphic design for the org you’re in, and if you want to pursue graphic design as a career instead, the org work you did could already count as work experience and portfolio fillers.
The values you learn from working with a core team on a certain org project also prove useful once you enter the workforce. Many employers nowadays not only look at the degree you graduated with but also on that one org project where you had to be flexible with the different people you work with, adaptable to changes in deadlines, and persevering in the face of unforeseen setbacks.
You still have much to learn even in the workplace.
Graduating means you can officially bid goodbye to pulling all-nighters for an exam and fussing over your notes 10 minutes before a graded recitation in class. But leaving the educational institution you’ve spent the best—and probably worst—years of your life at does not mean you are leaving behind with it the ability to learn and adapt. You still have much to improve on even after you land your first job, or get a salary raise, or land a promotion.
Job hunting might seem intimidating at first, especially with most job postings requiring a certain college degree, hyper-specific skillsets, and X years of work experience. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try and apply for a position you’ve been dreaming to have, even if you don’t meet all the requirements. The workplace can be a competitive environment, but it can also lead to many opportunities for improving in your chosen craft, so you really just have to go for it to see where it can lead you.