As an undergrad, I earned a degree in Communication with a minor in Management from UW-Eau Claire. Could I have picked two broader topics to pair together? My emphasis in Communication was Organizational Communication, which is the study of how communication happens within an organization. Another way of looking at it is – the human side of business. Between my major and minor I pretty much studied the same topic, from two different schools of thought. It was fascinating at the time (and still is), and if I had to choose today, I’d probably minor in marketing. At the time of choosing the Comm/Mgmt combo, I had my heart set on going into Human Resources. I was a big fan of training and recruiting and wanted to do both of those things full-time. I had an epiphany about half-way through senior year that I didn’t want to go into HR anymore. My Organizational Change and Development class (aka: mergers and acquisitions) was what did it for me. I knew I could do the work, but that I wouldn’t love it. And that, the loving it part, was so important to me. So back to the drawing board I went. Luckily, I worked in Career Services so I had plenty of resources available to me to research what else I could do with my degree in Communication. The answer: pretty much anything (well, not really “anything,” but my options were pretty wide open). It was during this exploration process that I figured out I wanted to become a career counselor.
Even though I had to complete another degree after undergrad, I use my undergrad degree every. single. day. Here are my basic job duties: work with students 1:1 and in groups, run the office social media, and supervise students who work in the office. The beauty of my broad major/minor combo, is that I learned a broad range of skills that can adapt to the changing job economy needs. I thoroughly understand the process of communication, so I can easily apply it to different methods (in person, print, online, etc.). Management happens in practically every job environment in some fashion, so I was bound to come into a management role at some point in my career. Even my original HR intentions (recruiting & training), I do as a part of my current role. All of these awesome connections weren’t in my original job description (some were) when I was hired (being in a brand new position has allowed me to do some molding with what I do), but I have a supervisor who recognizes that I have strengths that aren’t strictly tied to higher education and career counseling. Yay!
Okay, now here’s the why for this post. I share this story with students a lot to show a couple things: that you don’t always end up where you initially intended, find a major that will help you achieve a broad range of skills, and to be careful with broad majors because you do have to add some definition to them to figure out what you want to do. You don’t have to have it all figured out at 18, or 22, or 30. Personally, I love that I’ve been able to make my two degrees work so well together. Of the career counselors who work in my office, I’m the only one who’s undergrad background isn’t psychology or education. I love that I bring a little bit different flavor to the work that I do with students.
How do you still use your earlier degree(s)?