If you are still bummed that you can’t major in beer at your university, then yes, you probably think that your college should offer you more. But if your mind is open and you are thinking creatively, then you’ll probably figure out soon that a degree in chemistry or microbiology will serve you very well in the brewing industry. The most valued asset any university can give you to face an unknown future isn’t your major, it’s your academically trained mind.
If you’re worried about your future employment options and choosing the best major for getting a job in this bleak economy, you’re not alone. But how do you pick your field of study when your future job may not even exist? Your best bet is to do your research as to what occupations may be in demand, and trust in the transferable skills you will develop at school.
Historically, colleges have always changed coursework and majors to reflect a changing society. The first U.S. colleges were built for the express intent to produce clergy. (Thank Thomas Jefferson that you’re not in robes right now!) He pushed secular pursuits and advocated that higher education train a more skilled workforce in a then fast growing economy.
But, just as significantly, he also wanted students to draw their own conclusions from lectures, books, observing nature, and scientific experimentation. He wanted to train students to think for themselves — and that’s still a critical, transferable skill you will learn in college regardless of your major.
The value of your education to employers goes beyond the vocational training you get in your declared major. You are — or should be — developing organizational, analytical, and leadership skills, regardless of your degree. These skills transfer to many career paths and are always in demand by employers. By opening yourself up to the college experience and disciplining yourself to make it through the program, you are proving and practicing a strong work ethic, motivation, and adaptability. What you bring to any employer is your own unique combination of these qualities.
Let’s go back to the history lesson one more time. The U.S. university system expanded incredibly in the late 1800’s where new universities were up from only 23 in 1800 to a whopping 821 in 1897. That’s quite a change in the landscape of America in the process of industrialization.
The new schools built back then were practical — they promoted agriculture, science and technology. Yep, technology. That technology included automation in factories, telegraphs, and grain reapers, and it changed everything about the American economy…and it happened quickly.
Colleges have a long history of keeping pace with changes in the fast moving economy, so don’t worry so much about choosing the ‘right’ major for an unknown future, instead trust in the development of your mind, your critical thinking skills your personal skills, the qualities that make you adaptable and desirable and an employee that everyone wants to have working with them.
What skills are you learning and developing at your university that will carry you into a bold new economy?