Where Do Majors Meet Careers?

“What is the best major?” This is one of the most common questions I get from college students these days.

When I ask them what they mean by “best,” they usually clarify that by saying, “the one that pays the most.”

Given today’s economy, this is not surprising. What is surprising is the expression on their faces when they hear my answer.

My answer, like JEOPARDY! is in the form of a question… “What do you like to do?” Once we get beyond hanging out, texting, or playing video games, students begin to look deeper into themselves. Then I get, “meeting new people,” “playing and coaching sports,” or “math.”  Believe it or not, the things that you like to do, that are you are passionate about, can be transformed into a meaningful lifetime career.

For example, if you like meeting new people, consider a career in sales. Sales gives you the daily opportunity to meet new people every day. Marketing is a great major to kick off your sales career.

Maybe you are passionate about playing or watching sports. Sports organizations are dynamic and managing one can be an exciting opportunity. Majoring in management to pursue this career could be just the ticket for you.

Most accountants or financial advisors will tell you they like or are comfortable working with numbers. So, if math is your obsession, accounting and finance are majors that you can count on.

If you are interested in getting more details, meet with your professors. Chat with them about their particular fields. Tell them about your passions, what you like to do and where your interests lie. You’ll be surprised about how much information you can get from them.

Finally, keep in mind you should be considering complimenting your major with extra curricular activities, internships, or jobs to round out your major. By the time you graduate, you should have a well-rounded portfolio, backed by your education, experience, and most importantly, your passion.


Howard, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at the California State University Fullerton, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State, Howard was on the faculty at Drexel University and The Pennsylvania State University. A native of Philadelphia, Howard has extensive experience in the public and private sectors working for organizations such as the Department of Defense, Motorola, and the CSX railroad.  His research expertise is in branding, sustainability, strategic pricing, and education. In addition to teaching at Cal State, Howard has a consulting business focused on branding. You can follow Howard on Twitter or connect with him atLinkedin.

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3 Responses to “Where Do Majors Meet Careers?”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    As an IT consultant, I have seen far too many people select that as a career because it pays well. It can be a fun and rewarding career and it does pay well. But you have to have a passion for it and enjoy what you are doing to be really good at it. I’d suggest that college students select majors – and careers – that are in line with their interests and passions in order to achieve success, regardless of the salary.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

  2. avatar Alicia Blain says:

    Great article & I can’t agree more. Like Lew, I have seen many young people pick careers because they think the money is good and don’t give much consideration if they’d enjoy it or not. In my 30 year corporate career I found that the most successful people are the ones that choose careers because they either enjoy it or are really good at it. I still would push for passion since you can be very good at something and not enjoy it as much.

    Here’s one more thing I’d add. I would urge interns and new job entrants to try to understand the job environment & culture of the company for which they are interviewing or interning. Over the past year, I’ve conducted many interviews with Gen Y employees working from 1 to 5 years and over 80% of them were unhappy with their jobs. Many liked what they were doing (aka passion) but the corporate fit wasn’t right. An overwhelming majority expressed regret that they did not take the timne to ask more probing questions during the interviews. Even if they still felt compelled to take the job, they would have been better prepared for the shock of working from an insider perspective.

    Young interviewees have a unique opportunity to ask their prospective employers specific questions to try to get the “inside scoop” about working there. Often they pass up the opportunity because they focus most of their effort on responding to the interviewer questions. But here’s an insider secret: interviewers don’t expect young applicants to ask probing questions so when young applicants do, they favorably catch their attention.

    Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions during your interview. All seasoned workers do & so should college grads.

  3. avatar Tarun Suri says:

    Accounting have very little to do with numbers. Sure, we see numbers, we can interpret them, but we barely use anything more complex than high school arithmetic with them. Being good at math and becoming an accountant is a stereotype that doesn’t reflect the reality of the career path.

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