By Michael Goode
After years of exploring, studying, and setting your hopes on a career path that is perfectly defined by your major, it can be a bit jarring to realize that your options aren’t as plentiful as you originally imagined.
Or, maybe after all those in-class experiences, you suddenly find yourself working in that perfectly defined job, and you’re just not feeling it. The only possible conclusion you can draw from there is that all of the money, time, effort, crying, broken relationships, 3AM voyages to Taco Burrito King, existential crises, and everything else that leads you to the path of college graduation was an entirely pointless waste and your only option is to hit the reset button.
But wait! What is this “related fields” concept that you see plastered all over the place at the very end of the job descriptions you find yourself reading when you’re not busy watching Netflix? It’s exactly what it sounds like. The position you’re considering is in some way related to the content of your major, or the skills you’ve acquired while studying said major are essential to the job, even if it isn’t exactly in the field you studied.
Need an example? Here’s my story (since you insisted): After a series of frustrating and unfulfilling positions I endured after completing my B.A., I decided to pursue an M.Ed. in counseling, hoping to work in mental health. After completing my first year of grad school, I knew this wasn’t a good fit for me. Yet, I also knew that there was absolutely no way I was about to research, apply, and start a different Master’s program.
Rather than start all over, I looked at related fields. I found out about career advising, found an internship in the career center on campus (bonus points for not having to drive off-campus for work), and learned that I preferred a related field. After completing the internship, I landed my glorious position at the Portfolio Center.
When I tell people what I studied in grad school, I sometimes get odd looks that really beg the question, “Well, how the hell did you end up here?”
I then give them the following information:
1) Given my limited experience in career services, I looked for an entry level position (it was actually temporary and part-time before turning into a full-time permanent gig, but that story is for another post)
2) I looked for a position where I could utilize the skills I acquired during my time as a student studying a different industry (active listening, planning/organizing, writing, other forms of communication)
3) I considered the fact that even though the ways in which I am serving people was different, I still sought out the goal of making a positive impact on the lives of others
4) My educational level was congruent with the requirements of the positions I was considering.
If you’re considering deviating from your original path, consider the similarities between the experience and educational levels of the position, your skills, goals, and professional environment. You might find that even if you didn’t end up working “in the major” that you picked as a college student, it still ended up serving you well.
Want to talk more about related fields? Make an appointment with Michael at the Portfolio Center through Oasis, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org