“What’s your major?” This question has been used as an age-old ice breaker. Freshmen majoring in a well-known subject receive an acknowledging head nod to their response while others majoring in a lesser-known subject get a questioning glance. When graduation comes around, seniors are tasked more than just knowing their major; they now must find a job.
The Career Development Center staff, Bill Minnick, Kirsten Brue and Nancy Landhuis, help prepare Northwestern students for this job search process.
Brue offers help through setting up job shadowing, internships and job searches for students. She helps students discover what they enjoy and then works to connect these experiences to a major.
“For every student, it’s how much work they want to do,” Brue said. “Choosing a major and career path takes a lot of time, energy and commitment. The more time and energy students invest in the process, the better-informed decision students can make.”
Minnick is the Director of Career Development.
“Our goal is to equip students with the necessary skills to be successful as they search for their calling in God’s world,” Minnick said. “I work with juniors and seniors as they prepare for life after college.”
From job searches to interview advice, Minnick works to help students move closer to obtaining their career goals. Minnick said that students should begin researching jobs early in their academic career to be able to identify the skills needed to pursue a desired career.
“You have to have a strong resume, cover letter and be able to interview well,” Minnick said.
Some students develop a stronger desire for their major through hands-on experience. Jessica Kempema has no worries about her choice of major. As an education major, she has been student teaching and cannot wait to teach her own class.
“I love working with kids and watching them learn and become successful,” Kempema said.
The education major is one of the top three majors here at NW, along with business and kinesiology, according to a Spring 2014 report.
“I think the satisfaction of working with kids and watching them grow as individuals is appealing to many people,” Kempema said. “I also think many people choose education because they have been positively impacted by a teacher themselves and want to make a similar impact on another student.”
Paige Thies’s major also falls into the top three category: business. Although some people find their calling once they arrive to NW, Thies found hers in high school.
“I took classes in high school that were in the business department, and I liked them, so when I decided to come to NW, I stuck with it,” Thies said.
Thies is currently looking for a job at Cooperative Elevator Association, the company she interned at this past summer. Internships like Thies’s can be set up through the Career Development Center and are highly recommended by Thies.
“You can do a wide range of things,” she said. “It has room for you to explore many options.”
Hearing so much about a select number of majors makes one wonder about the lesser-known majors. Joleen Wilhelm is majoring in political science. As of Spring 2014, only 13 students are registered with political science as their major.
“Students may not be interested in political science as a major because they associate politics with the fighting and finger-pointing they see on TV,” Wilhelm said. “But politics encompasses much more than the wins and losses of elections.”
Students are able to explore their options with Minnick. He highly recommends a resource called “Chronicle Career Library”, which can be found on My NWC under the Career Development tab. It allows students to find their major and then see what job positions are available with that degree.
Theater also has a low amount of students. Brianne Hassman originally came to NW as a nursing major, but later changed to Theater.
Instead of going into the business of professional acting, Hassman is searching for a job connected to her faith, such as working for a faith-based theater or incorporating the arts into the church.
“I think it’s hard to make a living in the arts,” she said. “And society has pushed that we need a job to make money and achieve the American Dream.”
With so many majors offered at NW, students are presented with a challenging choice, and looking ahead to career decisions may seem daunting. But with the help of the Career Development Center, they will be prepared to step out into the professional world.