Why You Should Try On Your Major

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life when I started college, but I was sure I didn’t want to get a business degree.

“Business is what everyone does, and I’m not planning to have a career. Why would I do that?” I thought to myself.

(Spoiler Alert: I have a Business Administration degree with a focus in Project Management.)

So, how did I get from majoring in Religion since it seemed most practical for me to graduating with something as specific as Project Management?

Easy. I figured out what I wanted to do with my life by examining my passions and creating a 5-10 year plan. Right? Wrong. 

I took it one step at a time. I got experience.

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As I trucked through the general education credits of my Religion degree, I realized I needed money to pay for courses. I had just been burned by a nannying experience, and I was looking for something flexible. 

A job opportunity popped up in front of me for a part-part-time job as an assistant to the CPA at a small engineering firm. The opportunity sounded pretty boring, but the casual lunch turned surprise interview showed me they seemed desperate, so I thought, “Why not?” and accepted.

Much to my surprise, I fell in love with the office environment. Watching people do their best, interact with each other as friends, and work together toward a common goal besides just “make money” was invigorating and interesting to me. My boss saw potential in me and gave me projects to challenge me and grow my skills. She trained me in all things accounting, and she also gave me room to try new office projects when other co-workers needed an extra hand.

After trying it out, I realized that maybe I would like a Business Degree after all. It was beneficial for learning systems, organization, and how companies worked.

I pooled all my knowledge and experience together and boldly requested a major change to Accounting. This was what I wanted. I could use these skills anywhere — from working in a top-level company to volunteering for a church to managing a home.

I was set. Or so I thought.

Another opportunity later snuck into my life. I found myself in a small group of Unbounders with a big vision to plan an unofficial Texas Retreat…but they weren’t equipped to get there. I reluctantly agreed to help them.

Over time, I became the team leader. We all had a blast serving in our roles. We planned 2 successful retreats, and then I applied for the National Student Cabinet.

Partway through my Cabinet experience, a troubling question came to mind: what if I like this event planning stuff more than I like Accounting? I had already changed my major once. Could I really do it again?

I mulled over this question, and then I stumbled upon this well-timed post by Erica Brandau titled 5 Clues You Have Hidden Project Manager Talent. At that point, I knew I had reached a decision point. It was time for another switch.

Project Management, here I came. Even now, three years later, I know I made the right choice. Not only is it massively helpful in my career (the one I was never going to have), it’s also handy for planning small outings with friends, catering baby showers, and balancing a home, kid, and job on a daily basis. 

So what are the biggest lessons in “trying on” your major while you’re still in school?

  • You might find something you really love (or don’t love!), and it surprises you.
  • Your grades are not your only measure of skill in the field. The Project Management I midterm was the only test I failed in college. It would have been very discouraging if I wasn’t already confident in my experience.
  • You have experience when you finish your degree. This is a huge plus to any potential employer!
  • You gain a clearer understanding of your purpose in the world. Sometimes practice is the best way to find out how you fit.

College is a big investment in your life, so why not go out of your way to examine the fit before you finish? You wouldn’t want to buy those expensive pants or shoes without knowing they’re right for you. 

So go ahead. Try it on. It will be well-worth the missed study time to have the confidence you’re on the right track.

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