Hello from your new Liberal Arts & Social Sciences career advisor! I want to share a bit of my personal background, so you can understand why I’m so passionate about career exploration and using college as a time to learn about yourself.
As a freshman in college, I chose a business major because I thought that was a responsible choice. My mom had a heavy influence in this decision, as she told me I needed to choose a major that would lead to a job. Now, I know she said this with my best interest at heart, but it definitely impacted my major and career decisions. Truth be told, I ended up disliking about 75 percent of my classes—and to this day, I’m still paying off my student loans for those classes. I chose a concentration in marketing because that seemed like the most creative career option, and those classes were among the ones I found most interesting. While I learned valuable skills and met a few good friends in my business classes, I can’t help but wonder—what if I had chosen differently? What if I had followed my interests and the subjects I enjoyed most in high school when choosing my major?
At that time, my college major equaled my career—a statement I now know does not have to be true. In fact, in most cases, it is not true. I had a couple of marketing internships during my junior and senior years, but ended up getting my first job out of college at an advertising agency. I dedicated my career to advertising for nearly 10 years while also trying to find myself by moving around to different companies and roles within the industry.
Life Lesson #1: Employers really do want to hire Liberal Arts & Social Sciences majors.
This brings me to my first life lesson I want to share with you. The last place I worked before deciding to change careers was at a large media communications agency headquartered in Chicago. As a way of exploring different roles within the agency, I joined the campus recruiting leadership team. Through this role, I worked with the human resources department to train employees on how to staff college job fairs and give presentations in undergraduate classrooms. When describing the type of student HR was trying to recruit for entry-level positions, they told me they were looking for a variety of different majors and not necessarily just advertising, communications or marketing. In fact, HR specifically shared with me that they wanted to target liberal arts majors.
My former employer sought to hire graduates with analytical, problem-solving and communication (i.e. “transferable”) skills and found over the years that entry-level professionals with expertise in the humanities or social sciences are “the icing on the cake.” Advertising, much like many other industries, is all about understanding human thought and behavior along with bringing critical thought and creativity to assignments. Now, the “college major does not equal career path” message is nothing new, but I wanted to share my experience with you in hopes of reinforcing this message. I would even dare to say that liberal arts and social sciences majors have a competitive edge, as they are not only learning those transferable skills, but they have subject-matter expertise that employers truly desire.
Life Lesson #2: Career exploration takes time, but it’s so worth it.
OK, onto the second life lesson. As I moved from company to company and role to role, I reflected on why I continued to feel unsatisfied in my work. I decided to take an assessment to learn more about my unique strengths and I read articles on exploring career paths. Then, I brainstormed career options within and outside of advertising where I could use these strengths to grow as a professional and as a person. This is when I had the idea of working with college students. I knew I enjoyed managing recent graduates as a supervisor and being a mentor to students—it made sense. I talked to my friends about my career ideas and they helped connect me to people working at universities around the city. The next thing I knew, I was meeting with professionals to learn about the in’s and out’s of their jobs, while continuing to personally reflect on everything I was learning along the way. This career exploration took time, but it got me even more excited about my future. So, my second life lesson is that career exploration and the decision-making process takes time and patience; you need to give yourself time to reflect on what’s a good fit for you. It took me over two years to decide I wanted to pursue higher education and career counseling, but in the end, it was all worth it. Your happiness and fulfillment is worth discovering; put in the time and effort to learn about yourself and explore your post-graduation options. With all of the resources and support at your fingertips as a student, there is no better time than now.
I feel very fortunate to be here at DePaul as one of your Liberal Arts & Social Sciences career advisors. I’m here to provide space for meaningful conversations around your ideas, thoughts, concerns, and fears for what comes after graduation. Oh yeah, as well as provide internship and job search strategies, resume and cover letter reviews, and all that other good stuff. Feel free to make an appointment directly through Handshake, and remember it’s never too early to start!