Choosing a major can seem like the most important decision in the world when you're starting college. And while it is important, it doesn't necessarily dictate the work you'll do for the rest of your life. Some people stay in their college field of study, some don't.
I was a journalism and mass communications major in college, and today I'm a copywriter. I've always stayed within my field working at a newspaper, public relations firm, and ad agencies, holding various positions where writing was always a key component.
Take a look at how some of our career paths have played out so far:
My college major was International Relations, a multidisciplinary track that incorporated classes in political science, history, economics, and a foreign language (mine were French and Mandarin Chinese). The major required a study abroad experience for at least 1 Quarter, which was the best experience I had at college! I also completed a minor in Film & Media Studies, just to keep myself extra busy.
Today I apply a TON of my IR knowledge to my work in the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing group. For example, we assign and assess country risk designations based on internal conflict within certain countries.
Also, my major is greatly beneficial to my everyday life, where I can discuss with my fellow colleagues the latest in global political, economic, and developmental shifts, as well as simply reading a news article and understanding the context of major global political topics. I'd recommend the IR major to anyone unsure of what they want out of college, and many people from my graduating class have pursued law school, state department work, and nonprofit careers with the major.
I majored in Mass Communications. Initially, I picked this major thinking I'd be a news broadcaster. But Senior year, I took an Advertising class that I loved! When I started looking for jobs, I focused on ad agencies and worked for 5 years in Advertising. Now, I am a Product Manager leading the marketing and product strategy for a credit card product at Wells Fargo. Definitely very different than being on the local news!
I was a Psychology major, and the only reason I chose that major was because I had taken an AP Psych class in high school that I'd enjoyed and done well in. (Not exactly the most informed decision I've ever made in my life, but hey, who could blame me? I was 17 and attending a large university with 30,000 undergrads!) And while I enjoyed the curriculum, Caroline is absolutely right in saying it didn't dictate my career—I ended up going into Public Relations right out of college, which led to a job in Marketing, which eventually led me to pursue my MBA.
Sometimes I wish I had majored in something more "practical," like Business or Economics, but had I done that, I likely would not have chosen to pursue an MBA, which ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made—not only because I had a great time in grad school, but because it helped me get to where I am today: driving the online strategy for various lines of business on wellsfargo.com as a Product Manager in the Internet Services Group.
I graduated with a BS degree in Human Resources and General Management. Today, I am working as a Marketing Consultant!
My major was Political Economy, so a mix of Political Science and Economics. My career didn't stray too far from my major, but it's allowed me to try out different areas of interest and different sized businesses. I've worked in Operations, Marketing, and Product Management for small internet startups as well as Fortune 500 financial institutions.
In the end, your major is what you make of it! If you have an idea of what you want to try, then focus on making it happen.