does your degree determine your career?

experience

when I headed off to college, leaving behind my generic high school days, prom memories, and hot lunches, I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. I’d been a good student and knew the general subjects that I enjoyed, but I wasn’t hell bent on any one topic or career like a lot of 18 year olds are. in fact, I was more interested in getting a good education and exploring the world on my own versus specializing in one thing or the other.

 

once I arrived on the plush, happy campus that I’d call my home for 3 years though, I started to worry about my lack of focus on one particular career or degree. most of the people I knew had chosen a major and seemed completely convinced of their decision, pushing through classes that would fulfill their degree requirements. I started to panic that I’d get left behind if I didn’t hustle and choose a major. but the idea of formally committing to something seemed way too daunting.

 

it was only after I’d switched majors twice and taken an introductory class in psychology that I finally started to feel normal. I loved that first psychology class and didn’t hesitate to declare it as my major. still though, I wondered if I needed to become a psychologist or something similar if I was going to get a degree in psych. Most people assumed I would because it was a natural fit (just as most degrees are with their direct career matches). But I wasn’t sure I wanted to become a doctor. I wasn’t blown away by research studies and having to do lots of lab work, and the amount of additional schooling I’d need to complete daunted me.

 

around the same time, I started a consulting company. It was mostly a way to pay the bills and gain some real work experience outside of working in the cafe on campus, and it ended up being the turning point in my perspective on a psych degree. as I worked with early clients who were willing to take a chance on a young, inexperienced college student, I realized how important psychology was to everyday interactions and to the work I was doing. the things I was learning in my classes directly related to the business development and marketing I was doing for clients. the more I worked, the more I realized how useful my degree really was.

 

in the end, I graduated with a BA in psychology and a ton of amazing memories and experiences. and when I interviewed for roles later in my career, it was the experience from the consulting company that got me the job, not the degree. of course, the degree acted as somewhat of a qualifier, and in some careers, is an absolute requirement. but, in general, I don’t think your degree matters as much as people make it out to be. sure, the knowledge portion is important and the practices you learn in school are essential to building out a good career, but it’s not the “end all, be all”. it’s really just a portion of a package that is you. you are made up of many things that make you unique and valuable to a company, and experience is just as important, if not more valuable, than the degree you list at the end of your resume.

 

go ahead, study what inspires you and seek out experiences that further your capabilities and grow your brain. you’ll be just fine!

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