Finding the Right Job When Society Says You Had the Wrong Major

Written By Chonce Maddox  |  Career  |  3 Comments

About a year ago I attended a birthday party for my little brother. I reconnected with a lot of family at the party but I could never forget the brief conversation I had with my uncle. When he asked me what I was studying in school and I replied with my major, Journalism and Communications, he frowned with disapproval.

“Oh another journalism major,” he sighed.  “Why don’t you try to do something different and creative like engineering or create an app?”

I remember being pretty offended and speechless after his response, but not upset by any means. Throughout my life and my college career I’ve gotten similar responses when I told people what I was going to college for.

But all the “Why would you do that” or “You know you can’t make much money in that field” comments I’ve received from friends and family could never kill my passion for creative writing and marketing. Oh and those ‘Top Paying Careers’ articles that always put writing at the bottom of the food chain never phased me too much either.

I graduated with a BA in Journalism this past May with $20,000 in loans I needed to repay. I was relieved to be done with college but nervous at the same time wondering if I made the right decision to stick with a major I truly enjoyed despite its ‘declining demand’ in society.

I’ll admit this summer was nerve-racking as I frantically searched for jobs and got rejected after a few interviews.

Then in June, I did something surprising and quit my job of three years and became a fulltime job seeker. To me it wasn’t a big loss, I was only working 2 days per week if I was lucky at the part-time job I held during college.

I went through a couple of rough weeks with no true income (other than my savings) but long behold I landed a wonderful entry level job right before the 4th of July weekend as a Project Coordinator at a web design and marketing company where I could utilize my creativity, writing and account management skills all in one.

It’s not particularly easy to find a good paying job that relates to your field (especially Liberal Arts and Fine Arts) after graduating per se but it’s not impossible. I believe life is too short to not study and work in a field you love because you are afraid you won’t be able to make a living from it.

In the job market the competition is fierce among millennials and while having a great resume and networking are a given, there are plenty of simple yet proven methods that are often forgotten or skipped during a recent grad’s job search.

Dedicate Yourself to Your Passion 100%

Whether you love baking, biology, dancing or writing and you are truly passionate about a career in the field, dedicate all your efforts to making that dream a reality and don’t make failure an option. Think and plan your future realistically but optimistically as well.

Do Mock Interviews, Create a Flawless First Impression

First impressions are everything so it’s important to perfect your interview skills with a friend or mentor. You could have a great resume, but you need to make sure you can deliver in person and prove you can fit into the company culture. Letting someone else assess your verbal and nonverbal behavior during a mock interview can help highlight some areas you need to improve on.

Read About Your Industry and What Hiring Managers Expect

Study your industry closely by connecting with recruiters and professionals on LinkedIn and reading HR blogs to see what hiring managers are expecting from candidates; like soft skills for example. Then try to obtain those qualities and market yourself.

Be Flexible, Don’t Expect Your ‘Dream Job’ Right Away

I might not have found a typical ‘journalism job’ but that’s not what I was searching for anyway. I know I love to write, but I didn’t limit myself to just being able to write about one thing like news or features.

During college and my internships I delved into content writing, marketing and public relations a bit so I could broaden my skills and become more marketable to employers by graduating with a firm background in print and online journalism along with marketing.

A March 2014 CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,100 employers indicated that too many recent grads focus on one particular skillset instead of establishing well-rounded professional experience. Flexibility is key in today’s society if you want to get your foot in the door, and it’s evident that no matter how good you are at one thing, you won’t stand a chance against someone who is capable of doing multiple tasks in your desired field.

Look in ALL the Right Places and Never Give Up

CNN Money reports that more than 50 percent of job openings are not advertised through online job boards. This means you need to get creative when searching for job leads if you want to beat your competition to the punch.

Check out your school’s online job search portal or bulletin boards around campus, attend career fairs, and check your local newspaper and surrounding neighborhoods for print job ads. Utilize your network and let them know you are looking for a particular job and ask them to send you any leads they come across. Stay active in your search and embrace new techniques to locate that ideal job whether it takes weeks or months.

You may have doubts at first, and it’s natural to be uncertain of the future.

But by remaining proactive and refusing to give up, you will increase your chances of finding a suitable job that interests you; regardless of what society says you should have studied in college.