Posted October 14, 2013 by

It’s Not Just The Major – advice to think twice when selecting your college career path

Lori Hatfield

Lori Hatfield, Director of Career Services at the University of Redlands

1. It’s the skill sets, not just the major.  Some people choose a major based on a personal passion that drives them, and your own interest should be a factor in choosing your course of study. But there are certain skill sets that are critical to job placement and career success. Those are developing strong oral and written communication skills and being able to think in a critical, analytical way – in short, be able to problem-solve and express yourself clearly and concisely.  Look for classes inside your major and throughout the curriculum that will help you develop those skills, or ask your advisor for suggestions.

2. You need more than your classes.  Employers may actually value extracurricular activities more than your GPA, coursework relevance, and college reputation .  And they can provide excellent opportunities to develop the skill sets employers want, especially if you hold one or more leadership positions.  Get involved in clubs and organizations early on so you can maximize their value, and have great scenarios of your accomplishments to share with prospective employers.

3. Experience counts!  The experience internships and part-time jobs provide, and the skill sets you develop from them, may be the single most important credential.  Begin to think about internship opportunities once you have declared your major, so you can secure several before graduation.

4. Look for professors taking risks.  Classroom learning and study is an important part of education, but it’s only a part.  A well-rounded education includes real-world experiences that broaden your point of view.  In fact, a student’s ability to succeed partly depends on their ability to understand and connect with people and cultures different than their own.  Study abroad opportunities are well known, but look for courses and professors offering truly unique experiences that take you out of the classroom and into a new and different environment.

5. Learn to work in state-of-the-art ways.  In the workplace, sometimes you will be working independently, but most of the time you’ll be working as a part of a team to accomplish a specific goal. Get experience now in working in a team environment to learn how to do it well.  What’s more, your team members may be half a world away! Technology is an important tool, but it’s more about staying responsive and receptive to others’ ideas and being accountable in a group setting.

By Lori Hatfield, Director of Career Services at the University of Redlands

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