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Monday, May 4, 2015

Thinking Beyond Your Major


"Thinking Beyond Your Major" By Richard Murdocco, '10


When it comes to starting your career, you may find that you need to go beyond your academic major. By considering your unique strengths and ways to apply them, you’ll make yourself open to more employment prospects and opportunities for personal growth.

When students or recent graduates identify themselves in interviews, they often say something along the lines of, "Hello! My name is George Humphrey. I am a student at Stony Brook University majoring in INSERT MAJOR HERE.”

Leading off with your major sets an expectation for the interviewer that you fit the archetype of only that field. While some professions require a relatively static skill set, others have more broad qualifications. Is there an opening for a research analyst at a large firm, but you studied Earth Science? You may be able to apply what you’ve learned as an undergraduate to fit that position.

As I had written last time, one of the perks of identifying your strongest skill is using it to your advantage in a variety of different professions. Are you a mathematics major who writes well? Or maybe you study Economics, but have a host of public speaking gigs under your belt. Excellent - you're a double threat in the job market. Use those valuable skills - and your unique academic background - to your advantage. 

If you are struggling to find a job that your academic background is tailor-made for, consider other opportunities that will allow you to put your skills to work. Often, rather than seeking the most qualified candidate on paper, companies look for an individual who fits in with company culture and who offers something unique to their institution.

Speaking from personal experience, my studies in both undergraduate at Fordham and graduate school at Stony Brook focused on land use, real estate development and the interrelationship between economic growth and environmental impacts. Despite having this rather specialized academic background, I now work in the ever-changing field of marketing for a financial institution. My background in government is helpful, but my ability to write is even more valuable. By identifying my skill and thinking beyond my major, I was able to jump into a field in which I never thought I'd be working. Each day, I use my education in policy to solve marketing challenges while applying the lessons learned in my undergraduate studies to give a different perspective on finding solutions.

Remember, though - that is my story. As a student or recent graduate, you must go out into the world and create your own story. What is your unique skill? Once you answer that question, ask yourself, "Am I thinking big enough?"

Always push yourself to think bigger. Thinking beyond your major requires an open mindedness that can pay big dividends as you progress throughout your career. Who knows - maybe one day you'll be a philosophy major who helps a firm with financial forecasting, or a regional planner who works as a marketer.


Richard Murdocco is a digital marketing analyst for Teachers Federal Credit Union. He graduated from Fordham University with his BA in Political Science and Urban Studies, and his MA in Public Policy from SUNY Stony Brook in 2010. 
Professionally, Richard worked for the New York City Mayor's Office of Capital Project Development under the Bloomberg Administration, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and Community Development Corporation of Long Island as a grant writer. His website, The Foggiest Idea, is a dedicated resource for land use and development information geared towards Long Islanders. 
Follow Richard Murdocco on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea, visit thefoggiestidea.org or email him at Rich@TheFoggiestIdea.org. You can check out his work weekly for the Long Island Press.

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