Think Broadly about Careers
The basic premise of a liberal arts education is that a broad education is inherently worthwhile, and that a smart, well-rounded person will be able to do many kinds of meaningful work. No matter what you major in, you will leave Princeton with core skills in critical thinking, analytic writing, and problem-solving. These skills will take you a long way, lending you the versatility to adapt to any tasks and tackle them with original approaches. While our basic message is that you should take advantage of your time in college to study what you love, you may be feeling some pressure to look ahead to career options. What you love and what you may ultimately do for a career need not be at odds. Bear in mind that a financially stable career can follow even a major that might seem at first glance impractical.
If you have no idea what you would want to do as a career . . .
Don't panic! Trust your instincts about what you love to study. You will definitely be employable—recent graduates in Classics have gotten jobs as financial analysts, and graduates in Economics have gone on to work as teachers. Your major will give you a deep understanding of a field, but it won't force you into one job track.
If you know what you want as a career, but not as a major . . .
If you do feel called to a vocation, you may be worried about the best way to get there. Bear in mind that certain majors may seem to prepare you for certain careers, but in most fields, being able to show a diversity of talents is a great benefit. A Princeton education is broad enough that virtually any major will open up lots of career options.
- Pay attention to your talents! Doing well at something you love will show prospective employers your strengths. If you're great at French but ultimately want to go to law school, your major will show that you're good at writing, reading critically, understanding different cultures, etc, even if you don't use French in your daily work.
- Career Services is a good place to explore the various paths that have led Princeton grads—and others—to the professions that interest you. See their Connections with Alumni page for details.
- Talk to people working in the careers that interest you, and ask them about how their undergraduate education has related to their work. You might be surprised by what you learn: for example, Colin Powell majored in Geology as an undergrad, and J.K. Rowling studied French and Classics! Major Choices events throughout the year will offer you opportunities to meet alumni and ask them questions.
- Remember that plenty of people do not go directly into their dream-jobs after college. Career paths are rarely straight! Your major might open up some interesting opportunities on the way to your ultimate goal: for example, a degree in Sociology and Certificate in Latin American Studies could let you work in Argentina for a few years before grad school in nonprofit management.