Telling people I was an English major had one, almost unanimous response: “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?” To which I always had to respond, “no.” It wasn't the career path that spoke to me. But when I was asked what I wanted to do instead, I would freeze.
I got pretty good at the answering-the-question-but-avoiding-the-question tactic. Oh, you know, I’m interested in a lot of things...we’ll see what the future brings. I always felt the need to have an answer because people. kept. asking.
I decided to be an English major because it was the one subject that I truly loved, it had the classes I looked forward to attending, and the studying I didn’t mind doing (as much, anyways). I not only learned a ton, but expanded my knowledge in an area that was important to me.
Despite my genuine love for the subject, I began to feel incredibly worried because I didn’t know what I wanted yet career-wise. Everyone else seemed to have everything perfected (news flash: they didn’t). I wondered if I had made a mistake by choosing my major based solely on passion, without a plan for what the rest would bring.
18-year-old-me (and lets face it, 21-year-old-me) didn’t know where life after college would take me. These doubts only perpetuated with the fact that the job boards were daunting, and in March of 2020, quite empty. I had no idea where to begin.
I’ve now been graduated from college for a year and as they say, hindsight is 20/20. A year later, I’m endlessly happy that I decided to choose my major based on instinct, even though I had no idea where it would lead. I can’t believe I ever second-guessed it. Here’s why:
I genuinely enjoyed all of my classes and professors in college.
Going to class everyday is a whole lot easier when you are looking forward to it. Even the "core requirement" classes were topics I was interested in. Although yes, there were some classes I enjoyed more than others, even the classes I didn't connect where still in my favorite subject matter.
No matter what major you choose, career-building skills are a result of the college experience.
Regardless of what major you decide to pursue, college is an incredible time of life when you learn invaluable lessons inside the classroom and out. The ability to think critically, time-manage, organize, clearly communicate ideas, and push yourself out of your comfort zone will be applicable to whatever career path calls to you in the future. And — a degree is a degree!
Studying wasn’t totally unbearable.
If you hate reading — this won't appeal to you at all. But laying out on the grass with my iced coffee, reading two or three books every week was right down my alley. Whenever reading or writing papers got difficult, I would remind myself why I was there, and why I chose this path for myself. That became my motivation to push myself to excel as much as I could.
I was able to connect with like-minded people.
Everyday was spent discussing topics I was interested in with people also interested in those topics. Classes are a great place to make friends regardless, but having similar passions makes it that much easier to build connections with those around you.
Careers paths aren’t always linear.
And there isn’t always a guarantee of where life will take you. Choosing a major based off of passion alone gave me the wiggle room I needed to grow and explore since I hadn't yet defined my career path at. all. So, I chose a major I knew would be versatile and allow me to have an abundance of options.
Trusting my instincts gave me the confidence I needed.
Even when the decisions are hard, you ultimately know what is best for you. If a certain subject or major really calls to you, don’t ignore it! I thought I was going to major in about 4 different things before settling on English, and it was ultimately the ability to explore other options that gave me confidence in knowing English was best fit for me.
Maybe you aren't even sure what major you're interested in — let alone a career. I came into college undeclared and spend my first few quarters exploring different subject areas. Remember, there is plenty of time to figure out what is best for you, and there's never a need to rush into anything you are unsure of.
I’m by no means saying don’t plan for the future, or that you shouldn’t choose a major based on your dream career — you absolutely should if that path speaks to you! You should also be absolutely confident if you don’t know exactly what you want, or if what you want changes with time.
I never even considered marketing as a career until after graduating college, now I do it full-time. There’s plenty of time to develop your career goals as you move through phases of your life, so my advice: choose the major that you absolutely love, and the rest will work itself out. And whatever the future brings, these four years are for your own personal growth and exciting learning experiences.