Choosing a Major

Employers are looking for a certain major, right? Not necessarily. Yes, your major is important but so are your experiences and skills.  A liberal arts degree from Bethel does just that… it helps to prepare you for the skills that employers are looking for.

According to the NACE 2013 Job Outlook survey, the top 5 things employers look for in applicants are:

  1. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  2. Ability to work in a team structure
  3. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information

You’ll likely have several different positions throughout the course of your career. A liberal arts degree prepares you because of the transferable skills you’re developing. 

Two Options

1. Choose a major, then find a career.

Most students think this way: “First I’ll figure out what I like to study, and then I’ll find a job in that field.” The key to this option is to figure out what you prefer, which takes knowing your personality, abilities, strengths, and interests. Taking a career assessment, such as Strong Interest Inventory or Myers Briggs Type Indicator, can help you to better understand yourself and your work preferences.

2. Decide on a career that fits you, then select a major.

This option is less common because it is working backward. But it can be just as effective as option one. Figure out the best industry for your personality, abilities, strengths, and interests, and then pick the major that allows you to enter that field. Remember that a Liberal Arts degree may work for multiple industries (e.g. English major : Copy Writer for an advertising agency). Research career options through informational interviews and job shadowing, part-time jobs, internships, and volunteering, class projects, and websites, such as O*Net. Then consider your options based on what you know about your personal preferences.

For more information about these two methods, download this handout (pdf).

Exploring majors? 

Start exploring majors by learning about your options.

  • Read the list of majors.
  • Try a class in a particular department. 
  • Talk with professors and upperclassmen in majors you’re interested in.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and a career counselor.