We’ve all heard the phrase “Education is the key to success,” and it’s especially thrown in the face of college students. Choosing a major during freshman orientation can seem like a monumental decision that dictates the trajectory of the rest of your life. I’m here to attest to the fact that it’s a lie.
It’s all a lie.
I’m a fourth-year student attending the University of Florida majoring in marketing and advertising. Three years ago, I chose both of my majors because they made sense. I attended an International Baccalaureate high school, and after that traumatizing experience, I promised myself I’d never take another science, physics or calculus class again, so STEM was definitely out. As a kid, I loved ads and catchy jingles, and I always had an interest in communications and the creativity that’s needed to be successful in the field. Therefore, marketing and advertising made sense.
The summer of 2018, I traveled to Dublin for an internship at a public relations firm, an opportunity that perfectly aligned with my majors. I was so excited to experience communications within a different culture and even more excited to get hands-on experience.
Spoiler alert: I hated it. At that moment, I knew that there was a possibility my career would have nothing to do with my majors; that was the moment my heart dropped. No one told me what to do when I entered my final year of college and came to the realization my potential career path and the majors I prematurely chose wouldn’t align.
This feeling of misalignment is quite common among college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30 percent of students in the U.S. change their majors at least once. In fact, college students change their major approximately three times while enrolled in their institution. There’s no handbook that tells you how to do college right. Nowhere is it written you must obtain a career within the field of your bachelor’s degree. Approximately 91 percent of employers say “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.”
After the Irish fiasco, I applied to internships in industries I wouldn’t normally pursue, including an Xbox Category Manager internship. Initially, I was extremely skeptical because the position fell under technology, something I promised myself I’d never pursue. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, got the position and fell in love with the company. I applied creative problem-solving skills to dynamic situations, integrating key aspects of marketing and advertising within day-to-day tasks. Not being a gamer became an asset, and I was able to provide a fresh perspective. At the conclusion of the 12 weeks, Xbox extended me a full-time offer despite the fact that my degrees didn’t align with my position.
A bachelor’s degree is simply an indicator that you completed college; experience is what speaks volumes. Pick a degree based on passion. Figure out what you’re genuinely interested in and what you may want to pursue long-term. If your passion changes during your college career, it’s okay. Be comfortable with the change and make decisions that are best for you. Your life’s just starting, cut yourself some slack and graduate. You’ll figure out the rest along the way.
Brianna Lowder is a UF marketing and advertising senior.