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June 20th, 2012,
college minors career

By Alexander Diedrick

In college, taking a minor in addition to your major might seem kind of, well, minor in your education plan. But according to career development specialist Christie Andersen, minors can be the perfect thing to make you marketable in a less-than-favorable market.

“Getting a job is all about having a valuable set of skills and knowledge to offer the work world,” says Christie. “Minors are an opportunity to add a new set of skills to your resume.”

And Christie should know. She works at Columbia College Chicago to help students and recent graduates prepare for careers after college, including aiding the job hunt, building resumes, and supporting career exploration. “I think of myself as adding on necessary job search skill to compliment creative knowledge students build in the classroom,” Christie explains.

For those of you who don’t know, minors generally consist of 4-6 classes that will give you additional knowledge outside of your major and can build skills to which you wouldn’t normally be exposed.

“In career services,” Christie starts, “we talk about a few different types of skills – technical skills and transferable skills. Transferable skills, such as organization, problem-solving, and communication, can be built through part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and classes. Technical skills are often industry-specific, like editing, design, and knowledge of equipment, software, and procedures.”

She continues, “Many students choose liberal arts or arts-based majors that prepare them with excellent transferrable skills. Minors are one way to add some technical skills to the mix.”

Minors can be tied to your concentration or be something completely different – it just depends on what you want to make your educational path look like.

In choosing minors, Christie says, “I see two different approaches. Some students simply choose a minor because there are two disciplines they feel passionately about, so it’s a way to devote more of their education to a second interest.

“But because I work with arts and media students, many others choose minors that feel ‘practical,’ such as marketing, management, or web development, to balance out their more creatively focused majors.”

It’s best to take certain factors into consideration, however, before choosing your major, which means you shouldn’t pick something like “medieval jousting in outer space” just because it sounds cool (although I would take that in a heartbeat).

Christie advises, “From my perspective as a career advisor, students should choose a minor that will help necessary job skills. I recommend that students think about what kind of job they want after graduation. If they look at job postings now, they can gather important information about what skills are necessary to land good work.

“I think minors like design and web development will be more and more popular as job seekers think about what kind of value they can add,” she continues. “But things change quickly, so talking to your career center or advisor will help you explore their best options.”

If you’re still struggling with the prospect of adding a minor, don’t fret – many people have been in the same boat as you, and your college knows it. That’s why people like Christie are there to help.

“Simply adding a minor is no guarantee that you will get a good job,” says Christie. “But choosing a minor wisely can help build up qualifications. Don’t feel like you have to figure this out on your own! Colleges provide a lot of support, and there are usually staff members who can help you understand options that might make sense for your career plans.”

Alexander Diedrick is a television writing and production student at Columbia College of Chicago. In addition to producing and writing for Price of Admission, a movie and television review show for college students, Alexander is a writing intern at myFootpath, LLC.