If you're a college student, you've probably lived through this scenario. The scenario in which you are sitting at a dining table or other social gathering, usually with adults older than you or maybe relatives, and suddenly the topic of career goes around the table. "What's your major? What do you want to do?" they ask you with expectant and hopeful eyes. Eyes that are hopeful for your response of something lavish or of high study like engineering, law, or the medical field. Something bringing in money, and therefore making a difference to the world. You reply with your major patiently although you know this conversation is already going nowhere.
When you reply the asker only smiles slightly, giving a faint nod of the head and says something like: "Oh, cool." Acknowledging but not intrigued or caring. And with that you smile waiting for the next question that likely isn't going to come. Then they turn to the next victim and start the cycle over again. However, they in this opposite scenario are a nursing major or maybe a business major, and this is what the interrogator sinks their teeth into—something of substance. Suddenly the warm yet cold smile you were met with earlier becomes animated and a forty-five minute long conversation ensues about what they want to do with their lives, why they chose their major, the salary, and what part of the career path they are on. You sit there in silence for the rest of their conversation, knowing full well you were dismissed as to not be a part of it because you couldn't possibly relate.
For me, that's the response I was met with as an Education major—disinterest, unimportance. Nothing noteworthy or incredibly ambitious. Maybe it's the same for you, those psychology majors, those zoology majors, or maybe even just history majors. Those "atypical" majors that seem small or are rare among a sea of medical, law, business and graduate school driven-careers.
But just because you aren't in the majority of your university doesn't mean you aren't ambitious. In fact, I have plans to go to graduate school, to travel, to see the world and make a lasting difference. What is important to me matters, and it matters to the world. If everyone in the world were the same boring major, we wouldn't get anywhere in life. We wouldn't improve. Because different talents are what brings different perspectives and which drives change. Just because I might not make the biggest salary doesn't necessarily mean I do any less work or that my work isn't hard. It simply just means that maybe I have different values or interests than the next person who values a monetary driven career more. Get to know me, and then maybe you can see for yourself. You may just be surprised, and maybe we can teach each other a thing or two. On that note, here's fifteen conversation carriers to ask me. Show me you care and that what I do matters.
What do you want to do with your major?
Don't assume just from their major that you already know what they want to do. They just may surprise you.
Why do you want to do that?
When in doubt, just ask why. People value different things or may see things differently than you. Starting with why will you give a glimpse on the real special individual and what matters most to them.
What made you choose that major?
Maybe they didn't want to take the typical approach to their career field. Maybe their major just really interested them. Or maybe they had a really cool teacher who inspired them. Just ask.
What does your career path look like?
It looks different for every major.
If you could ideally do anything with your major, what would you do?
What kind of classes do you have to take for your major?
I don't know about you, but I have to take a surprising number of Geography classes. It's not always what you think.
What are those classes like? Do you enjoy them?
What's the coolest experience you've had with that so far?
A large amount of majors require you to participate in internships or field based practices, and these can really impact one's decision or perspective on their major. Maybe they have experienced something really funny or truly eye opening through their experiences in their job field.
Where do you want to go after graduating?
What does a day in your career field look like?
Did someone inspire you along your way? Did you have any mentors?
Were you always that major?
How do you feel about...? What type of....do you want to do?
There are in fact major specific questions you can ask. Like if they are a psychology major maybe ask them what type of psychology they are interested in or what age group they want to work with. For history maybe ask them what their favorite time period is. Think specific.
Do you have any exciting internship or study abroad opportunities?
Where do you hope to be in 15 years? What kind of impact do you want to have made?
A few Education major specific questions:
1.What age do you want to teach?
2.What subject do you want to teach? Why?
3.Did you have any teachers that inspired you?