November 13, 2018 ・ Written by T.J. Duane

Your degree doesn’t define you

Your degree doesn’t define you

Going to college is THE thing you have to do to launch your career. But what happens when you come out with a degree that doesn’t help you in the long run? Well, first off, don’t panic. People do this more than you would think, in fact, I did the exact same thing. As the voice of experience, let me submit a few options for those of you graduating with a diploma you’re worried you might regret.

Grad School

I studied Human Development at Cornell. It’s a fascinating topic and I’m glad I did it, because it gave me soft skills that I used my whole life, but wasn’t particularly marketable. My career prospects were so limited that I decided to go to grad school. Twice, in fact, for a law degree and later an MBA, but that’s another story.

Grad school is a big decision and can come with a hefty price tag. Fear not, though, it’s not the only option.

Get creative with your degree

My sister, who’s two years younger than me, also got a degree in Human Development from Cornell. But one summer she did an internship at P&G and realized she could use what she was learning about psychology and put it to use in marketing. It was a natural fit. She got hired after graduation and ended up rising up through the ranks before going to Revlon as a marketing director. Now she’s the Chief Marketing Officer of an international cosmetics company.

Another Brightcrowd member I recently spoke to had a similar experience. She graduated with a Studio Art degree and realized she wanted to be a writer. That held her back but she was still able to use a lot of the skills she picked up in her degree program such as taking criticism, problem-solving, and self-discipline. She also took a range of general education programs including several writing classes, which helped her improve her craft and gave tools she still uses in her writing career today.

Use what you learned outside of the classroom

College is more than the degree you earned. It’s learning to be an adult, to keep to a schedule of your own design, to meet deadlines, and it’s also the people you meet. Those people, whether they be teachers, other students, past alumni, or guest speakers, can be instrumental in getting you into doors that might be closed due to your degree choice. That same Brightcrowd member I talked about earlier? She’s an editor today because she took a small time writing gig from a friend of one of her professors.

Not sure you know anyone who can help you? Make a list of all the teachers you’ve had and all the friends and classmates who you formed a genuine connection with. Now look them up and see where they are now. Are they doing something similar to what you want to do? Shoot them an email and ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee or schedule a quick phone call to catch up and pick their brains. Their career path might surprise you.

DIY Your Career Path

There is no guaranteed way to get to your dream career and there isn’t only one place a degree can take you. You might have to explore a bit and take some wrong turns to find what’s right for you, but you’ll find it. And always remember, you have a degree and that will make you much more hirable than someone who doesn’t, no matter what major is on your diploma.

Want to find out what other people with your major have done or connect with your alumni network? Just reach out to any of the helpful people on Brightcrowd.