Major doesn’t matter, passion does

As a media and cinema studies major, I am notoriously asked, “Well, what are you going to do with that?”

To satisfy the onslaught of further interrogation, I simply respond by saying that I plan to work in a social media agency or for some publication.

But the real answer? These are two fields I am interested in, but how should I know exactly what I am going to do with the rest of my life?

The reason I don’t know specifically “what I’m going to do with that” is not because I don’t have ambitions or goals for any career, but rather because I don’t know what opportunities I will be presented with in the future and where exactly I will end up — I can only guess.

And while many people may have these long-term plans of internships and job prospects (myself included), it is still nothing more than hope and a prediction.

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However, it seems many students have been misled with this perception that you must come into college with a “solid” major, one that will guarantee you a specific job with financial security in the future, and in doing so, you might have to risk putting your own interests and passions on the sidelines. 

When in reality, that should not be the case, because doing something you love tends to drive you to go further within a particular field, and that in itself can lead to a financially successful future. It’s not like your major is a life sentence — there is more that defines your desirability in the workforce, such as leadership involvement and experience in the field.

With my particular major, though, passion is not an issue.

I enjoy my classes, I’m intrigued by my homework assignments and I care about what my professors have to say. In other words, doing the whole “school thing” is not a chore because I am excited and willing to learn about my major. And that motivation is what drives me toward obtaining a job in this particular field.

But unfortunately, the same can’t be said for everyone. Keith Marshall, executive director of the Campus Center for Advising and Academic Services says, “Many freshmen end up going into majors in fields like business, biology and engineering, despite the fact that they do not have a particular interest or aptitude for these areas,” The Daily Illini reported last week

The trouble with this strategy is that it could generate a sense of apathy toward these students’ majors. If students are choosing majors solely based on infamous job security and prestige, then that leaves the risk of them doing jobs in areas they don’t particularly care about or might not even be good at.

I would never choose to have a doctor that carelessly or emotionlessly does his job just because he can. I want a doctor who wants to be doing what he is doing and is motivated to help me.

We need to be more than a generation of apathy — mindlessly, robotically doing our jobs. 

Having a major you love is what will spark future success in whatever field you enter.

Take the example presented in a New York Times article of David Muir, an anchor and correspondent for ABC World News, who majored in journalism (a major often criticized for a lack of job prospects) at Ithaca College. He also works with a slew of people who weren’t journalism majors. 

Not only does Muir’s case emphasize that an uncommonly prosperous major can lead to a successful career, it also demonstrates that job opportunities extend beyond your major in college.

By the end of these four years, it is not always about what the degree says, but the skills that stand behind what it took to get that degree. As author Jeffrey J. Selingo says, majors are “fungible” — they are interchangeable; they are not set-in-stone.

The major you choose should not be the end-all-be-all decision for the rest of your life that locks you into one position, so picking something that you enjoy is worth it.

It is more about the fact that you worked hard to earn a degree, which indicates a level of devotedness, ability to meet deadlines, maintaining responsibility and several other important skills that ultimately any job would be looking for.

And if you carry desire behind it all, then it can only make your case that much stronger out in the workforce.

So when people ask me, “Well, what are you going to do with that?” I truthfully want to say that I don’t know — and neither do many other people. 

I can’t predict exactly where my journey will take me, but because of the excitement, desire and experience I have with my media and cinema studies major, I look toward my future with great confidence.

Nicki is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @NickiHalenza.