How To Get A Job Outside Of Your Major

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Empty board room.

You don’t need a fancy meeting place to have a board of directors. (Though having one would be pretty cool.)

Was this article on saltmoney.org about landing a job outside your major written for me? Well done, SALT™.

In all seriousness, when it comes to doing this, I have some great experience. After all, I majored in human services and rehabilitation counseling; I now work as a consultant with colleges and universities across New England. Who knew?

While that article makes many great points, I’ve learned some additional things about finding that job outside your major.

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All About Fit

Much like the college decision process, finding the right job is all about fit. To that end, many of us will spend significant time trying to find the right professional fit and, at various points in our life, pivot when the current job no longer “works” for us. This is something I learned very quickly and spoke about during my initial interviews.

When asked about the major I chose during my first post-college job interviews, I spoke to how my intentions at the time made sense, but I was no longer interested in pursuing this current field of study. I also made sure to spin my transferable skills to fit these different positions.

For example, for a job advising students, I detailed my extensive coursework involving human behavior, group dynamics, and interpersonal relationships—all of which are critical to the position. This helped drive home my point.

Build Your Personal Board Of Directors

A classmate of mine told me about the idea of a personal “board of directors.” Much like a mentor, these individuals are people whom you identify to serve as an “independent organization” when confronted with difficult career choices and personal conundrums.

Ideally, you will have individuals in different industries, with various levels of career experience and expertise. My board includes, among others, a Ph.D. in organization studies, a management-level graphic designer, and a peer pursuing a full-time MBA. The best part? Your directors don’t even have to know they are on your board! (This is meant to come across in a cool, non-invasive way, not a creepy way).

Building your own board is a great way to stay balanced and consider all sides of the equation, especially when it comes to personal decisions about career moves. If you want to learn more about this, SALT has an article on it too. (Man, they’re really in my head today.)

Remember You Are Not Alone

While the “average” number of career changes per person has recently been called into question, the consensus remains that, in the United States, many people will change jobs and/or careers more than a few times over the course of their work history. Couple this with the fact that many of us pick our major as 19 year olds, and let’s be honest, not all of us know what we’re doing at 19. (I was rocking visors and free T-shirts from chain restaurants, so you get the picture.)

Instead of viewing each job change as another “incorrect” choice, change the conversation and talk about the major takeaways from each job and lessons learned that have affected your life. When it comes to your career, it’s all about the journey.

***

In reality, unless your job is highly specialized, finding a job that fits “nicely” into your college major might not even make sense.

While searching for my first job outside my major, I kept an open mind and crafted my story around my new desires to be part of the job I was seeking. Remember, many job skills can be taught; having a good attitude is a real differentiator.

Did you land a job outside your major? Let us know what worked for you.

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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