10 Ways to Actually Appreciate Your Major

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Do you ever think about your college degree and wonder, “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” or “I'm going to graduate with a degree in (insert name of major here), so what?” If yes, then you're in luck. Here are several ways to better understand your major and take advantage of your soon-to-be-degree:

1. Participate in a job shadow.
A job shadow allows you to follow a professional in a specific field and observe his or her typical work day. Certain companies allow college students to participate in this program. Although you won't actively be completing any tasks, you can still gain an understanding of the day in a life of an employee of your desired profession.
2. Join a related club.
Extracurricular activities help you get in touch with other people who share your interests. Not to mention, you can engage in stimulating discussions with like-minded individuals about various topics including what you all plan to do with your degree or the overall benefits of being a certain major.
3. Write an honest letter to yourself.
There must be a reason you initially chose your major. Perhaps you aimed to improve the world by spreading your philosophical wisdom or creating beautiful architecture. Whatever your motive, it may help to write out why you chose your major and what you’re passionate about. For the times when you may lose sight of your goals, re-read your letter to inspire yourself.
4. Watch relevant movies or documentaries.
Math-related majors may appreciate A Beautiful Mind or Good Will Hunting. Art majors may find Pollock and Exit Through the Gift Shop especially stimulating. Films offer a unique perspective on how both fictional and actual characters have applied their knowledge in various settings.
5. Glance through children's books.
Einstein said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” Return to the basics with picture books that illustrate the finer points of your area of study. Some notable titles are Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines: An Engineering Kids Storybook and Uncle Andy's: A Faabbbulous Visit With Andy Warhol.
6. Obtain an internship.
This is almost like a job shadow except that you’ll actually have jobs and assignments to complete. Unless your sole duty is to grab coffee, you’ll have an opportunity to gain experience and get your feet wet.
7. Join the Reddit community and read relevant subreddits.
Reddit describes itself as, “user-generated news links.” The website may be slightly confusing to use at first, but the payoff is well worth it. You’ll be updated with relevant news and articles in regard to your field of study and you can connect with people around the world who share your major and interests.
8. Visit your school's career center.
The career center has a list of alumni who you could communicate with and ask questions. Don’t forget to make connections as well!
9. Chat with your professor during office hours.
Although your professors may seem intimidating in the classroom, most are actually friendly and extremely helpful outside of class. Professors of your major classes are often well educated and experienced, so heed their advice. You are paying for their time and knowledge after all.
10. Read short biographies of celebrities who had your major.
By reading about successful people and how they established their foundation, you can learn from others’ pitfalls or career-starting moves. Granted, not all celebrities used their degree, but those who have (Oprah, anyone?) used them advantageously.

Sophomore > Writing for Film and Television > Emerson College

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