What To Study When You Don’t Know What You Want to Do Just Yet
I know I have quite a few younger readers out there, as well as some readers who are looking to transition to something else. With my current job hunt, I’ve observed a few things about what employers are searching for in candidates for most positions. Unless you’re looking to go into something highly technical you stand the best shot of getting that management, marketing, customer satisfaction, analyst, or even administrative assistant position with just one particular degree.
Ideally, it’d be great if we all just knew right away what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. In practice, most of us are still figuring out who we are when we first start college and aren’t nearly equipped to really know what we’re meant to do. Or you could be like me convinced that you’re destined to do something, only to get all the degrees and realize that maybe that’s not what you want. So what should you do?
- If you have a passion, study it – If there’s something you really like go ahead and study it. You love history. Do like I did and get that history degree. Do you like to draw? Study graphic design. You will never regret an education in which you enjoyed your area of study. Of course, you should always be honest with yourself about your job prospects and the necessity to pursue graduate degrees to fully pursue your area but if you like it, it won’t feel like work and you’ll be more likely to stick with it even the times to rough.
- Don’t ignore those feelings of dread – If you find yourself in a degree program that gives you more anxiety than pleasure, it may not be the area for you. I had these feelings when I was in law school. Sure there were some aspects that I enjoyed from time to time because I was competitive but for the most part I didn’t want to be there. I ignored those signs because I was so committed to this idea I’d come up with for myself when I was 6. If you’re feeling resistance in your bones it just may not be your calling.
- Listen to your parents – No don’t listen to them when they generically say “become a doctor.” Listen to your folks when they ask what you’re going to do with that? Women’s studies? What are you going to do with that? If your plan is to run a non-profit that furthers women’s issues that might just be the right degree for you. But think about what skills you’ll actually need to run a non-profit. You’ll need to know how to manage people and fundraise. You’ll need to know something about marketing to let the public know about your mission. So maybe just women’s studies isn’t the best degree to with first.
So what is the best degree to go with if you don’t know exactly what you want to do just yet? A business degree. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Good God Grace have you lost your mind?! That’s the most boring thing you can possibly study.’ And while it may be true that on the surface it doesn’t look sexy, more people would be willing to give you a chance if you have a business degree than if you have a degree in literature, or history, or even a law degree.
If you’ve gotten a business degree you’ve likely learned how to use real-world math (ie dollars and cents). You probably had to do some coursework that required you to work in teams. You may have had to develop your leadership skills. There were courses you were required to take in marketing. You probably even learned the ins and outs of human capital management. Even if you never work in corporate America these are useful skills if you want to start your own business, like launching your necklace boutique.
What I’ve seen since I started applying for positions is that companies want a business degree if you’re applying for a non-technical position within the company. It doesn’t matter that you have experience dealing with business people all the time as an attorney. Or that you managed a staff as the local historian at your local city museum. Doesn’t matter that you managed that budget for that political campaign if you don’t have that degree in business most human resource departments will overlook you. Especially today with the rise of algorithms that sift through resumes and discard ones automatically that don’t have certain keywords in them before any human ever gets to see them. So don’t limit yourself with a super specialized degree that people erroneously assume can only do two things. Get that business degree and boss some people around!
Let me know in the comments what you studied and if you’re working in the area that you studied. Or if you’re still debating what to study let me know your thoughts and which way you’re leaning. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a blog post. I hope you all find your calling and that you execute the heck out of it!
Sending you encouragement,