There was a time in when a college degree didn’t really have to be in anything particular. Just the fact that a person could successfully complete college assured employers that they had the brains to learn any job. These days, a college degree is in many ways much more of a credential than a declaration that a person can reason, solve problems, and see the big picture. And a course of study in college is much easier to discern if you know exactly what you want to do. If you want to be a nurse, get a nursing degree. If you want to be a teacher, make sure certification classes are part of your curriculum.

But not every job worth having correlates one-to-one with a major, and a lot of people with degrees in broad topics such as History, English, Communications, Psychology or Business, have jobs that don’t seem to have a lot to do with Shakespeare’s sonnets or BF Skinner’s rats. But they’re good jobs, not jobs that people have settled for.

How does someone with a broad or non-credential-producing major connect to those good jobs? Here are some insights into that question.

Double major or choose a strong minor

And try to do it counter intuitively. An English major could double major in marketing or minor in business. An accounting major could minor in philosophy. This will show prospective employers that the candidate is well-balanced and can work out of both sides of his or her brain. An applicant wants to be able to show that he or she can handle both the big picture and the details.

Start Working Early

Everyone thinks it’s ideal to not have to work part time while in college, but this is missing a golden opportunity. A part-time job in college can easily turn into a career after college. For example, the electronics chain Best Buy offers its employees tuition reimbursement while they’re in school, and many former part-timers go on to become full-timers, including managers and executives. There’s no “electronics store management” major, but learning the business from the inside helps a student secure a place in the company for the future.

Become a Volunteer

The opportunities that come from volunteering are similar to those that come from working. The student learns a business, even if they don’t get paid for it. They make connections to the not-for-profit community, which does offer many paying jobs at different levels. They also learn many important skills that translate into the paying world—time management, compliance with laws and regulations, customer service, and commitment, to name a few. It’s also a good source for references and letters of recommendation.

Do an Internship

Taking an internship, either paid or unpaid, puts you inside a business, and helps the student learn the standards of that business. If a student considers taking an internship that isn’t their first choice, they can learn a new way of thinking and working, and broaden their own horizons. They can also learn more about what’s out there. For students who don’t know where to start in finding these internships, an advisor or student services office can usually help.

Go to job fairs

Colleges have these all the time, and so do most communities. Employers gather in one place, making themselves available for students. They answer questions, take resumes, and talk about their businesses. Every student should go to these! They can simply ask the company representative, “I’m a History major—would your company hire me?” They might say, “Sorry, we’re looking for people with Engineering degrees,” but they might say, “Sure, we have lots of History majors on staff.” The student should take the opportunity to get business cards, flyers, and applications. If a representative asks for the student to contact him or her, the student should follow up.

Sign with a temp agency

Temp agencies know about job openings that are never advertized. It’s true that they offer mostly hourly jobs, but they usually pay far above minimum wage, and they are a way for a new graduate to get his or her foot in the door of a company and to get started in the company’s benefits plan. With a college degree, it won’t take long for a warehouse worker to move up to the office or into management.

People who are looking for work often find themselves regarding others and thinking, “How did you find that job?” This is especially true for new graduates who don’t have a credential for a certain kind of work. But there are paths into those jobs, and following the above tips can help a job seeker find his or her way into a career that meets all of their needs.

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