Does major matter?

As I search for internships this summer, I’m faced with tons of different advice and options. If money isn’t an object (read: unnecessary), I could probably work anywhere in the world. But, well, see, studying abroad (have I not killed the fact that I was abroad last semester?) cost a lot of money, and now that I’m back and can legally work, it would be awesome to get a paying position. The money is for necessary, not selfish, reasons – I’ll need it for paying rent (wherever I live this summer) and bills and saving for my ticket to SXSW 2011. But I digress, my point is, making money this summer is pretty necessary, and so, I’m attending a career fair being held tomorrow at UW.

I’m following all of the school’s suggestions – making a list of potential employers, doing research, refreshing my resume – but I’m a little nervous. Did I pick the wrong major? Nearly all of the companies in attendance say in their listings that they are recruiting for marketing, finance, accounting interns. I avoided Econ 101 like the plague, and while I’m adept at some math, number crunching is not something I live for.

Strategic communications is the right major for me, that much I know, but I couldn’t help but notice that not a whole lot of creative firms are coming to this event. They are well-aware us strat commies will come crawling to them in search of something, anything that resembles the all-hailed experience. Experience seems to be the key to getting into even entry-level positions out of college, and you usually need at least two years of it. Do I have experience? Hell if I know. I’ve worked a few communications, PR and web internships, feel comfortable with computers (Mac and PC), and have enjoyed every minute of the jobs where I work collaboratively with my co-workers and for our clients.

So does the fact that I’m a communications (that’s emphasis on language, not numbers) major limit me in my search for a paid summer position? Is looking for a paid internship, and openly stating that as an undergrad, absolute insanity? And what does experience mean to employers, anyway? Do students’ majors really matter when they’re applying for internships, or can a combination of great references and a positive, energetic attitude win an employer over?

This is my side of the story, and for all I know, I’m doing it all wrong. But I’m here to learn, so please share any tips and corrections you have with me, I would love love love some feedback!

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6 responses to “Does major matter?

  1. Hey Leia,
    The UW Career Fair is admittedly a little weak on creative/communications firms. My best advice would be to go to the career fair and target the employers you’re interested in, but don’t limit your internship search to only the opportunities listed by the UW. You’re not insane to look for a paid internship; I had 3 paid and 1 unpaid, so hopefully you’ll have similar luck. A lot of employers are taking advantage of the current economic climate and getting students to work just for “experience,” but last I looked there are some paying positions out there.

    I would check out the University of St. Thomas Career Center Board http://www.stthomas.edu/careerdevelopment/joblistings/ if you’re open to relocating for the summer.

    The Big Shoes Network http://www.bigshoesnetwork.com/ is a great resource for advertising and creative jobs and internships in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

    You should also check the AdFed (Advertising Federation) and Ad2 (AdFed for young professionals) websites of the cities you’re interested in interning in.

    Lastly, if there’s a company that really stands out in your mind as someplace you want to work, write them a letter of interest. Let them know you’re looking for an internship and think you’d be a valuable contributor to their team should they have any positions available.

    Good Luck!!!

    • Hey Elle,

      Thank you so much for the feedback! It’s great to hear encouraging things from someone who’s been in my position. I will definitely be taking your advice, looking into those sites (I already love BSN!), and continuing my search! Thanks again!

  2. The right company for you won’t require you to fit into a certain mold. Express the importance of those meaningful experiences and relationships you’ve had and don’t be afraid to show your passion for what you want to do. You’ll do great!

    • That is so true, Sarah. I get caught up in the major versus mindset way of thinking, but you’re right – I can emphasize the experience I do have to convince employers I’m a good fit. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. I think communications is one of the best majors since it forms the backbone of most positions. But really, your major doesn’t matter at the end of the game. I majored in design and environmental studies and only used that for a few short months outside of college before moving to other fields. Good luck!

    • That’s a good point Rebecca, I hope my communications background gets me as far as it’s gotten you. Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it!

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