Think Outside the Major

Think Outside the Major

Written by Giannina Imperial

When searching for your summer internships, it can be easy to entrap yourself in the mindset of fulfilling expectations. As an economics major, you may think your internship should involve working with politicians on fiscal policy. As a psychology major, you may be avidly searching only for psychological research grants. Your strategy of attack may be, “What would someone with my major typically do?”

This way of thinking can severely narrow your search scope and may not afford you the numerous internship opportunities you could discover if you broadened your horizons. Here is a simple tip to live by: passion and skills first, major second.

The Career Services staff here at Hillsdale shared with me their advice to those Hillsdale students who are avidly searching for internships relevant to their career goals.

“If you look at the majority of our alumni on LinkedIn, they’re not normally on a linear path,” explained Sophia Donohoe, assistant director of Career Services. “For example, Citi Bank is obviously a big financial firm in New York, but under 50 percent of their summer interns are not business majors: about 49 percent of their interns are humanities majors.

“You would think a place like Citi Bank would only be hiring finance majors, but they make a big deal about hiring students in the liberal arts.”

By looking at career areas outside the typical scope your major may offer you, you will be able to discover how your area of specialty can be useful in many areas of industry. With a liberal arts education, you are trained to look at problems from several perspectives, to form well rounded impressions of your experiences, and through these advantages tackle difficult-to-resolve issues through innovative approaches. With such a grounded and thorough education, you have the ability to succeed in many fields, some not typical of your major.

Ultimately, though, in whatever internships you decide to approach, you need to love what you do.

“To students who come in looking for internships, we say, ‘What is it that you’re passionate about?’” Director of Career Services Joanna Wiseley said. “It is your passion that you follow, then your major is secondary. We talk about your passion and where you see yourself, what type of skills you want to use, and how you can best use those skills.”

So, in the long run, it may not be your major’s typical career path that you travel. It will be your unique passions and skills that will offer you the most fulfillment in what you do. And, of course, Career Services will help you along every step in finding your perfect internship and, eventually, career.

“I would recommend that all students begin their internship searches in Career Services,” Joanna Wiseley advised. “We help to build their package: their resume, their cover letter, their LinkedIn profile, and we get them connected to our alumni network, which is really big. That way, either geographically or career-path-wise, we are able to connect them.”

With all this in mind, be sure to visit the smiling faces of the Career Services staff, and take the next big step in putting your own passions and skills to use in finding the perfect career for you.


Giannina ImperialGiannina Imperial, ’18, is a psychology major and biology minor from Jackson, MI. If she isn’t in the Psychology Suite running research participants or in AJ’s immersed in her biology textbooks, you’ll find her in the music hall for one of the dozen rehearsals she’ll have that day.  She loves God, neuroscience, dancing like no one’s watching, getting ice cream with friends, and trying out every Filipino recipe in her mother’s arsenal of cookbooks.


Published in April 2019