All majors can lead to successful, interesting careers
January 28, 2016
For some students, following their passion was an easy and obvious choice. Sarah Altshuler, senior and music major, always knew she wanted to go into education, but it was her high school involvement in band, choir and orchestra that solidified her plans to become a music teacher. ss
“I just thought, ‘I’m pretty good at this,’ and I’m really passionate about music and the arts being present at public schools,” she said.
Other students in smaller majors have found their paths in a more roundabout way. Tyler Harr, senior in FAA, knew he wanted to major in theater, but instead started freshman year studying electrical engineering because even though it was not his first choice of major, he thought it would be more practical when finding a job.ss
“After two and a half years, I decided that I couldn’t live my entire adulthood relying on my second choice to make a living,” Harr wrote in an email. “I’ve always filled my free time with theatre. That’s how I knew I should be doing it full time.”
Not wanting to waste his already completed coursework, Harr chose to complete minors in electrical engineering and English and switched his major to theater.
“I was a bit nervous to tell my friend group as most of them are very heavily focused on the STEM fields. They were all very supportive,” Harr said. “My family took a bit more convincing because they do want the best for me, and they wanted to make sure I could support myself.”
Mark Weidner, senior in Media, came to the University undeclared, but chose to major in cinema studies because of his love for film and the impact that it can have on individuals.ss
“I loved the way movies could transport us and make us feel powerful emotions and make us think of things we’ve never pondered before,” he said in an email.
Weidner said that although his parents supported his choice to major in what he loved, like Harr, he did face some judgement for his field of study.
“People thought of it more as a hobby than as a future job, and I sort of can’t blame them,” he said. “But I always knew that I could never work in business or engineering. I like more creative and fluid atmospheres.”
The sentiment that students following their passion will not be able to find employment is a relatively common one.
“There have been classmates who aren’t music majors, mostly engineering and business, who have the attitude that I have an easier major,” Altshuler said, “They say things like, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ or, ‘You’re not going to have a real job.’”
However, many students are confident that their degrees from the University will help them find a job in the future. Altshuler is currently student teaching; she’ll spend the first nine weeks of the semester at a junior high and then transition to an elementary school for the remainder of the school year.
She said that while student teaching, her responsibilities depend on what the full-time teacher needs. At this point, she is teaching half of the teacher’s classes and following the lesson plan given to her, but by the end of the semester, she will be creating her own lesson plans for each day’s class.
She said that classes at the University, particularly the GDC Arts Program, which required students to create lessons plans to take to the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center once a week, have prepared her well for her future career.
“More than the music or planning lessons, my favorite part is getting to know the kids. They’re all awesome,” she said. “Sometimes I think people don’t give kids enough credit for how smart and interesting they are. They pick up on things so quickly.”
Weidner plans to move to California within the next year to pursue a career in the film industry, both acting in front of the camera and behind the scenes. He said during his time here, he has learned that beyond just loving film, he appreciates the creative process occurring on screen and is grateful that he has the academic background to be involved in that.
Harr believes his diverse studies will make him marketable in a variety of ways, including not only acting and directing, but also in set design and technical work.
“Most people are surprised to hear how frequently these different fields can apply to each other,” Harr said.
Most importantly, these students have dedicated themselves to a career path they love.
“I’d rather do something I love for little money than something I hate for wealth. No matter what you do, you will have to put in work to find a job,” Harr said. “When you choose your work over what you take for granted every day, you’ll know you’re following a dream.”