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5 Things They Don't Tell You About The Major-Career Connection

You hear it all the time: "What are you going to do with THAT major?" Well, a lot of things, actually! Read on to get a better feel for how your major might be related to a future career!

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1. Your major and career don't have to be directly related

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Having a college degree prepares you to be competitive in the workforce, but did you know that many employers are open to a variety of majors? A wide range of companies coming to JMU for Career Fairs and on-campus interviews indicate that they're interested in ALL majors. According to a 2010 study by the Census Bureau, 62% of recent college grads are working in jobs that require a college degree, but only 27% are working in a job that's closely tied to their major. So while your first job may require a Bachelor’s degree, it might not matter what field it's in. With that in mind, choose a major you enjoy!

2. You don't have to be a business major to work in business

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It's true! There are many paths to any given career. You can be an entrepreneur or a manager or work in the corporate world in some other way, WITHOUT a business major. Check out the strengths of other degree programs in this article. Your major is one way to prepare to enter a career field, but not the only way. Experiences (internships, leadership in clubs and orgs, volunteer work, etc.) also count!

3. You're likely to change careers, and jobs, several times

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The new norm is to change jobs 4+ times from the ages of 22 to 32, and to change careers at least 3 times in your lifetime. Why so much change? There are a lot of factors... the desire to move up the ranks, restlessness, pay raises, or wanting to be in a position that really plays on your strengths. This means that you may be using your major in different ways with each successive job! Want to learn more about what JMU graduates actually DO with their majors, and the variety of options you have? Check out the 2016 edition of the Career Guide to JMU Majors.

4. Your major will help you in unexpected ways

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You've heard of transferable skills, right? The idea that you can take certain skills from one situation to another? Well your major is a PERFECT way to build transferable skills... and not just the obvious ones. As an English major, you'll develop research skills (because you're looking up primary sources to defend your claims in a paper). As a Philosophy major, you'll speak a foreign language proficiently and develop critical thinking skills (because you'll be studying logic and the Bachelor of Arts degree includes taking a language to the intermediate level). As a Marketing major, you'll be able to build consensus (because you need to come to an agreement, as a team, about your marketing strategy). As a Biology major, you may have background in community outreach (because of working on an environmental project in the area). The list could go on and on! There's more to your major than meets the eye.

5. Your major + your experiences = a marketable YOU

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The content knowledge and transferable skills that you're developing in your major make you a pretty darn amazing candidate for a lot of different careers. But it doesn't stop there! Internships, externships, student organizations, volunteer work, minors, and pre-professional programs can also make you really marketable in the eyes of an employer. If you want to brainstorm ways to be competitive for your future career, beyond what you're doing in your major, we can help!

Want to learn more about the Major-Career connection?

Check out the Career Guide to JMU Majors to learn more about common career paths of recent JMU grads! And schedule an appointment with a Career and Academic Advisor here in Career & Academic Planning to apply this to YOUR career decisions.

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