The most daunting aspect of your senior year of college is not the heavy course load or the thought of no longer being a college student. Rather, it has to do with the job search – the long and arduous process of looking for a career that can simultaneously utilize your unique talents and your brand new $100,000 education.
I spent my formative college years doing all the right things – playing a club sport, working part-time jobs, applying for summer internships, getting good grades – and yet when I began to look for a job in my field – History – I found myself at a loss. I had labored under the impression that if I chose a major in an area that I enjoyed, there would be jobs in that field awaiting me upon graduation. Boy was I wrong.
After an initial and unsuccessful search, I realized that if I wanted to work, I needed to look for jobs that, while not necessarily in my academic field, required the same sorts of skill set that I already possessed. Though history is perhaps not the most glamorous or specific major, I knew that the skills I had learned in my classes covered a variety of areas that could help me to land a job. Though I would no longer be writing history papers or reading vast amounts of text, I knew that the skills that I had learned in those courses were transferable and could help me succeed.
To many, a history paper is bogged down with names, dates, and places, and offers little outside of an academic setting. However, I knew that they included much more. Time management, research and writing skills, and creating concise and influential arguments were all important lessons that could be transferred to other fields. The work it requires to successfully research and write a paper – for any class or major – is not one that should be viewed lightly. It takes a great deal of intelligence, self-discipline, and effort to succeed in college, and employers know that. All employers look for employees that can work with a team and independently, can organize their thoughts and their tasks to stay on track, and who remain vigilant and detail oriented to get the job done. In every major, though these skills are not explicitly taught, they are always gained.
Though I did not receive my dream job right out of college, I know that the skills I learned in and out of the classroom during my undergraduate years prepared me to succeed in a variety of disciplines. With the experience I gained in those jobs, I was able to strengthen my résumé, obtain an understanding of a variety of disciplines, and create professional contacts that eventually helped me obtain a job in my desired field.
Post by Peter Rumbles, Career Services Assistant and Oregon State University Graduate Student