If you've graduated college and are less than excited about the career options for your degree, you aren't alone. Nearly 50% of people hold jobs that aren't related to their specific degree. More and more employers today are recognizing that experience is worth more than a piece of paper. It's not unusual to see liberal arts majors in finance positions or business majors in creative positions.
This should be encouraging. The focus of your degree doesn't lock you into a career path for the rest of your life. When you're 18 years old, it's rare that you really know what you want to do for the rest of your life. Most 18 year old kids care more about decorating their dorm room than what their life will be like 10 or 20 years down the road.
Now this doesn't negate the importance of choosing a major. Selecting an engineering or accounting major will still open more doors than a degree in underwater basket weaving. You'll find more opportunity when your degree is in a relevant field. This is especially true when you're fresh out of college.
Until you have a few years of solid experience on your resume, your degree will carry a much heavier weight. As you spend more time in the workforce, your degree will gradually become less important. You'll acquire skills over time that can be transferred to another career that's completely unrelated to your degree.
Switching Careers Mid-Life
Once you've been in the workforce for 5 or 10 years, you may find that the field that was so interesting while you were in college has lost it's allure. It's no longer exciting and work has moved from being fun and challenging to slow and mind-numbing. If you're ready to switch careers, you have a few options to make the transition easier.
Updating Your Education
While your degree is less important the ability to pivot your skills to be applicable in a new position, a degree does get your foot in more doors. Many schools today offer programs that are completely online or have alternative schedules that make it easy for a professional to get a new degree without leaving their job. As an example, a quick search turned up Gwynedd Mercy University that offers programs like these. Taking more than 30 seconds to search will turn up far more.
Check your local colleges and universities first as an onsite accelerated program is typically easier to complete. Having that face to face time with professors is important. If a local program isn't available or doesn't work for your schedule, look into programs that are available entirely online. There are online programs for practically every major now, including those in the medical field that require a lot of hands-on time.
Expanding Your Network
If the thought of going back to school isn't appealing, don't fret. It still isn't difficult to change careers. Most people are in the position they are today because of someone they knew. The power of that personal connection shouldn't be underestimated. If you have a personal connection to a job opening, that personal connection is worth far more than a degree perfectly suited to the position.
Invest time and effort into building your network. Attend networking events. Discuss your Pro-papers. Keep in touch with old contacts. Make time in your schedule to have coffee or lunch with people. It doesn't have to be business related. Networking is simply a matter of investing in relationships. The bigger your network and the stronger your relationships, the better chance you stand of finding that job that you love.
Don't let an unrelated degree stop you from chasing the career that you love. Having a degree is important, but the focus of that degree doesn't lock you into a set path. Always know that you can gain additional education and know that your experience and personal connections are worth far more than the major you selected.
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