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Majors don’t matter, developing skills do, according to panelists

Students, staff and faculty listen to professionals speak at the Majors Don’t Matter, What Does event on April 10 in Malouf. The panelists spoke about how it wasn’t their major that helped them find their careers but rather skills like critical thinking and interpersonal communication that they developed while in college that did. (Photo by Katie Probert)

Westminster College students, faculty and staff engaged with local panelists to discuss why specific college majors do not matter. The event was hosted Wednesday in Malouf 201.

The event was created by Natasha Saje, an English professor at Westminster, who plans an event annually which invites a panel of professionals to come to campus and talk about careers.

Through all of the panelist stories, the recurring theme was that it wasn’t their majors that got them to where they are now, but rather skills like critical thinking that helped them find different opportunities.

“What humanities and liberal arts have given me is the ability to know the right questions to ask the tech world,”  said panelist Madelyn Boudreaux, an interface designer and technical writer who originally earned her degree in ethnochoreology and folklore.

John Ford, a Westminster alum who majored in English, started out as a copyeditor for SLUG magazine but said he found there wasn’t much room to grow. So, when he saw an opportunity for a position in their sales department, he said he took it even though that wasn’t where he wanted to go.

“Be open-minded to change because there will be times when you are presented with an opportunity or an obstacle and stepping into something that your uncomfortable with might be the thing that you enjoy most,” Ford said.

Skills like critical thinking and interpersonal relationships all come down to the ability to develop yourself and your skills said Shelly Braun, who graduated with a degree in nutrition and now works in instructional design.

“A lot of the nutrition I learned in the eighties is not even fact anymore, we know more stuff,” Braun said. “So, the content that I learned wasn’t really important because the content that you’re learning is going to keep changing.”

Students who attended the event said they found the discussion interesting and were reassured that their majors can help them outside of that specific field.

Kyra Teply, a 20-year-old neuroscience major, said the discussion made her look forward to the future knowing that her major can be used for more than just neuroscience and that she can take those skills and transfer them to other fields.

Another neuroscience major Sarah Hall agreed with Teply and said she liked the panelists’ focus on transferable skills.

“I think that one of the more influential classes that I’ve been taking that isn’t STEM-related or neuroscience-related are my honors classes, [which] focus a lot on critical thinking, analyzing and writing skills,” said Sarah Hall, an 18-year-old neuroscience major. “I think if I continue to practice those skills and come out of college with those skills that will be really helpful more so than my major potentially.”

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Katie Probert
Katie is a senior communication major with an emphasis in graphic design. She likes to funnel her creativity in multiple different mediums. From oil paints to model making, she likes to keep her hands busy. Katie can normally be found petting random dogs on campus or reading on her phone in a variety of coffee shops.

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