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‘Your major might not have anything to do with your career and that’s OK’


Cailin Chang '13
Cailin Chang '13

Life after Hamilton may seem either too far away or frightening, depending on how far along you are. But as someone who is on the other side and currently in a role that has nothing to do with her major (or minor!), here are a couple of facts you should keep in mind:

Your major might not have anything to do with your career and that’s OK.

Back in my junior year at Hamilton, I was the first Member-at-Large within the Campus Activities Board (CAB). When I got the position, I made sure to learn the ins and outs of the board, eventually becoming a Co-Chair by senior year. Within two years I had learned how the biggest events on campus came to be, from brainstorming to execution to breakdown. I developed skills and gained experience by working on almost every event. When CAB managed to bring Macklemore at his peak popularity for Class & Charter Day, I knew that I wanted to work in the events industry and experience that same adrenaline whenever I could within my career.

When I was interviewing for my first job out of college, I always brought up my experiences in CAB. While it may only seem like a non-paying campus activity on paper, it was so much more than that. CAB represented the willingness to be a team player, a strong work ethic, and reliability — all qualities that most jobs are looking for in their candidates. I was able to provide anecdotes from my experience within CAB and relate how the skills I learned would help me succeed in the role that I was interviewing for.

Eventually I landed at my current job, where I work in events within a finance company. If you were wondering, I majored in Chinese and minored in Communications, further proving the point that you don’t need to find a career related to your major to succeed.

Your campus jobs, however, may actually be helpful in your job search.

I loved working on campus because there were so many jobs that Hamilton had to offer. At one point, I was balancing three jobs: tour guide, IT consultant, and peer advisor at the Career Center. These three jobs definitely helped me find my footing in job interviews and in my positions. Giving tours on campus allowed me to work and polish up on my public speaking skills. I always had to be and think on my feet whenever I received questions about the college. Working as an IT consultant gave me exposure to the Adobe Suite, for which I am eternally grateful for, considering how important programs like Photoshop and Illustrator are now. And of course, working at the Career Center definitely helped me improve my resumes and cover letters. Eventually I learned how to network successfully and how to present myself during interviews, which only helped boost my confidence in my job search.

When I accepted these jobs on campus, I didn’t think about how they would affect me in my post-grad life. However, perhaps this is something you can be aware of when applying for jobs on campus. In addition to thinking about what you can provide for your campus job, think about what your campus job can do for you.

Quitting is not failing.

If you are not a good fit for your first job out of college, it’s okay. The times are different, and no one stays within his or her first job for more than 10 years anymore. However, most people who change jobs already have another job lined up when they quit. I did not, but I still survived.

Quitting my first job without a backup plan is probably still the craziest thing I have ever done, but looking back now, I still have no regrets. I learned a lot about myself during my unemployment, which fortunately gave me the confidence I needed in my job interviews, when I had to explain why I quit my first job without a second one lined up.

I quit because I realized that I was not a good fit for my role. It was unfair to the team and myself to keep working when it was clear that I was no longer passionate in my role. I tried several different tactics to make it work, but in the end, quitting was the best decision for everyone.

I do not, though, recommend ever quitting a job without a second one lined up unless you are financially stable and mentally prepared to be unemployed for a while. Being unemployed can take a toll on your mental health, so it is important to surround yourself with hardworking friends and be willing to accept rejections or no responses from job interviews.

As hard as going through unemployment was, I still don’t consider it failing because my determination to find another job doubled once I accepted it. Within a week of updating my LinkedIn status to an enthusiastic job seeker who was interested in working within the events team of any industry, my inbox piled up with job interview requests! I accepted the job offer at my current company and the rest is history.

ALUMNI CAREER ADVICE

Hamilton has a long history of connecting students with alumni and parents whose advice, expertise, and resources help talented young people achieve success for themselves and in their communities.

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Work-life balance is real thing! Once you find it, take advantage of it.

While I was unemployed, I promised myself that once I found a new job, I would pursue acting on the side. I had completely forgotten about it during my first job, and I didn’t want that to happen again. Sure enough, once I hit my first year at my current job, I joined a community theater. In one production, I was the stage manager, assistant director, and an understudy, all while still working my 9-5 job! Since rehearsals were on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7:30-10:30PM, I made it work. That season was the busiest that I had ever been, but theatre is something I am passionate about and it didn’t hurt that it gave me an opportunity to leave my work on time.

It’s hard to remember when you begin working, but you are allowed to have a life outside of your job. Taking care of yourself is extremely important, so don’t deprive yourself of fun activities for a project that can wait until Monday. Do something on the side that you are passionate about, and who knows, maybe that side project may lead you to your next job!


Cailin Chang '13 majored in Chinese and minored in Communication at Hamilton. She is an events and outreach associate at Moody's Corp.

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