I Was A Liberal Arts Major…

…and all I have to show for it is being unemployed.

I find myself in a lot of conversations about majors lately.  There seem to be two very separate but equally adamant camps:  those that believe your undergraduate major will determine the career trajectory and pay scale you will be on for the rest of your life and those who think a major is just a way of choosing friends while in college and has little effect on life thereafter.

I’m not exactly sure where I fall.  I recently stumbled upon Newsweek’s report on the best majors for big paychecks and it’s hard to argue that certain majors give you an advantage in the job market, especially as the market continues to remain competitive.  As I job hunt, I certainly can’t ignore the fact that if my undergraduate background had been focused on science, math, or computers, I would have more job options and find myself competing in a different salary bracket.  And, despite having several years of work experience since I graduated in 2007, I still get questions about what coursework I took in college.

On the other hand, I encounter countless examples of successful careers that have run contradictory to major.  Whether it’s reading up on alumna success stories (like Candy Crowley, who took an English literature major and has become one of the key players at CNN) or enjoying the personal anecdotes of friends who took biology majors and became marketing professionals for a European art museum, it’s clear that a career can be whatever you make.  Additionally, I hear complaints from just as many math and science majors as English and history majors about the difficulties finding stable, well-paying employment.

Still, it’s hard not to wish I had a back-up engineering degree to fall back on.


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