What kind of jobs does my concentration make me eligible for?

It’s not uncommon for students to ask the CareerLAB counselors some variation of the question “What kind of jobs does my concentration make me eligible for?”

Your first job post grad and your career trajectory aren’t limited by your concentration

Look no further than the CareerLAB’s 2012-2020 Post-Graduate Data and you can see an English concentrator who got a first job at Google, an Economics concentrator who started out as marketing intern at RCA Records, and a CS concentrator starting out as a Librarian at George Washington University. 

While it’s true that some concentrations are tightly-linked to first jobs — many CS concentrators start out as software engineers, many Applied Math-Economic concentrators start out in finance or consulting — that linkage gets looser over time as you can see from the Data Visualization tool that tracks industries where concentrators ended up 10 years after graduation.

For most employers, your concentration and academic track record are just two of the elements they are considering when they are evaluating your resume or cover letter or talking to you during an interview. Two other elements they’ll be curious about include how you spent your time outside of class on campus and how you spent your summers.

Most employers will be evaluating you to see if you have the raw skills and interests in their field or organization to make you a good fit. Read job postings closely to see what skills employers are looking for. Chances are the posting will include many of the skills that employers tell the National Association of Colleges and Employers they are looking for in resumes of recent graduates, including:

Ability to work in a team, problem-solving skills, analytical/quantitative skills, communication skills (verbal), communication skills (written), Initiative, leadership, technical skills, flexibility/adaptability and strong work ethic.

CareerLAB’s professional Career Counselors can help you think about your skills, interests, values, strengths, needs, AND your concentration to generate ideas for fields and jobs that you’re curious about and then help you tell employers about the skills and interests that make you a good fit.

Ready to get started? Consider making a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor to talk things over and make a plan.

How can an informational interview help me get an internship, research, or job opportunity?

When the professional counselors on the Career Education team encourage students to consider doing informational interviews as part of the job search, one of the most common follow up questions we get is: How can having a conversation with someone about their job and career path help me get a job or internship?

Other than asking for a job, almost any question about your contact’s day-to-day, career path, and advice is fair game in an informational interview. Trust your curiosity. You can also consider some of the questions on our informational interview tip sheet. Getting the answers to these questions will build your knowledge of the job, field, or organization, which can help you write better application materials and increase your confidence in the interview process.

If the questions below don’t come up organically in the conversation, you can consider asking them toward the end of the talk. These four questions are a great way to get “Actionable Intelligence” for the internship and job search.

  1. Do you have advice for steps I can take to enhance my chances of getting an interview? This is a good question to ask if you’re interested in working at your contact’s organization. It invites your contact to share knowledge about the hiring process at their company and invites them to offer to help if they’re willing.
  1. Are there other places similar to your company that I should consider? People often applied to several companies like the one they work at now before getting their job. And sometimes they’ve learned about more organization in the field once they started working. Finding more organizations to consider is huge progress in the job search.
  1. Are there other people who work in this field that you think it would be useful for me to talk to? If you’re doing an informational interview with a Brown alum, they can sometimes guide you toward other Brown alum to talk to. The more people you talk to in a field, the more you’ll learn about common pathways and begin to tap into the invisible job network of the 70% of jobs that are never posted on the big job search engines like Handshake, LinkedIn, and Indeed.
  1. Are there websites, list serves, or platforms that have internship or job postings specific to this field? It’s not unusual to be able to find list-serves or websites for non-profit jobs in Rhode Island, sustainable food jobs across the country, or media jobs in New York. You can find a lot of these industry-specific websites on our more than 100 CareerLAB’s Exploring Career Field Pages. Focusing your search on lists and websites that focus on the jobs and internships that interest you can make your search more efficient and help you find jobs that aren’t on the big job search engines.

    Need help identifying with people who are doing work that you’re curious about? Consider coming to our Peer Career Advisor open hours (first floor of the CareerLAB at 167 Angell St. on Sun 1-3pm, Mon. 3-5, Tues. 7-9pm, Wed 5-7pm, Thurs. 5:30-7:30pm & Fri. 1:30-3:30pm) or making an appointment with a Career Counselor.

I feel like I “should” be applying for summer 2022 opportunities.

It’s the time of year when some students start getting job and internship offers for summer 2022, especially in fields where the big companies recruit in the fall, like consulting, finance and tech. That can cause other students to feel like they “should” be applying for things, even though they’re not sure what they want to do or how to get started.

First, it’s OK if you’re not ready. You may be just getting settled at Brown, focused on your academics or campus activities, or have dozens of other good reasons why you’re not interested or not able to explore opportunities right now. The fall employer recruiting season can make it feel like if you don’t start looking now, there will be no opportunities left later. 

That’s not true.

If you are ready, a conversation with a Career Counselor is a great way to start. 

Each of these conversations is different, but we might ask you about your academic interests, volunteer experiences, aspirations, stories you follow in the news, or hobbies. We could talk about your values and needs like salary, living near your family, or organizational integrity. Or we’ll chat about skills you already have or would like to learn, like coding, teaching, problem-solving or painting.

We might even suggest you take an assessment, like the Myers-Briggs, Strong Interest Inventory or CliftonStrengths. 

Regardless of how the conversation goes, we’ll suggest a few steps you can take to begin exploring fields that interest you and maybe even identify some internships or research opportunities you can consider pursuing. 

Ready to get started? Consider making a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor to talk things over and make a plan.

What If I’m not interested in consulting, finance, or tech?

Most graduating seniors don’t choose first jobs in consulting, finance, or tech! It only feels that way when you’re at Brown (or another Ivy).

A quick look at the 2020 data collected by the CareerLAB shows that most graduating seniors pursued paths outside of consulting, finance, and tech. In 2020, 70% of students chose employment as their first post-graduate endeavor (with most of the remaining 30% choosing graduate school or fellowships). Of those that chose jobs, 53% chose fields other than consulting, finance, or tech.

If you’re interested in considering some of those other fields or endeavours, consider making a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor. We’ll ask you about your interests, strengths, needs, and values and help you make a plan for identifying and pursuing internship and job opportunities.

That plan could include applying for a few things this fall. A quick check of Handshake shows that there are internship and job postings in non-profit, government, education, marketing. More than 20 of the employers attending Brown’s BIG Virtual Fall Career Fair on Sept. 22 are representing industries outside of consulting, finance, and tech. And, even if you’re not targeting consulting, finance, and tech, you might find marketing, sustainability, project management, or other roles within those industries that interest you.

Don’t worry if you don’t find things that interest you in Handshake, at the Career Fair or even at consortium events like Launch, D.C. ImpactLINK, and the All Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair. Because Brown students have a wide range of interests outside of tech, finance, and consulting and because they are competitive applicants for jobs all over the world, most Brown students will find their opportunities with employers who don’t use Handshake and who don’t have the model, resources, or interest in recruiting on a college campus.

You can hear the story of one alum who did just that in the “All in the Timing” episode of the CareerLAB podcast.

Consider making an appointment with a CareerLAB counselor who can help you get started on the search for those employers now. You can work with us to identify fields that interest you, cities and countries where you’d like to work, and specific organizations you’d like to target. We can also help you identify Brown alum and others who do the kind of work that interests you. Partnering with us can help increase your confidence in navigating a successful internship and job search.

Your curiosity can guide your internship, job, and career search

One of the most common pieces of advice students will hear is that they should “follow their passion” when considering what college to attend, what subjects to study, what clubs and activities to participate in, and what internships, jobs, and careers to pursue.

But what if—like the vast majority of students and adults in the world—you don’t have a passion? Or what if the passion you have doesn’t lead to a first job or career that meets your financial needs? Assuming you need a passion to make a decision about what to study and where to work, assumes there is only one path you can follow that will make you happy and fulfilled. That’s not true for most people.

Instead of limiting yourself to one possible passion, consider reframing your academic and career exploration by “following your curiosity.”

Take advantage of the open curriculum to take classes in history, statistics, behavioral decision-making, philosophy, and coding that catch your attention that are outside of your comfort zone. Join campus clubs that can help you explore public policy, civil rights, consulting, and more. Pursue summer research in biotech or internships in the arts that let you get a feeling for what it might be like to work in those fields. 

Anxious about spending a whole semester or summer to explore something that might not lead anywhere? Most alumni we talk to would argue that taking part of a semester or a summer to figure out what you DON’T want to do is well worth your time. But you can also get a quicker glimpse of different jobs and careers by doing informational interviews with faculty, family, friends, past professional connections and Brown alumni that you can find on BrownConnect and LinkedIn’s page for Brown Alumni.

In short, doing things and talking to people are two powerful ways to figure out how you want to spend your time right after graduation and maybe even in the years beyond. And they might even lead to you finding a cause or career that becomes your life’s passion.

Need some help making a list of things that you’re curious about and ways to explore that fit with your own needs, interests, strengths, and values? Consider making a one-on-one appointment with a career counselor to talk things over and make a plan.

Welcome to CareerLAB

Undergrads, Graduate Students, and Brown community members:

Welcome to the CareerLAB’s new blog! With this site, we hope to provide you with both short- and long-form articles about topics on all things career-related.

No matter where you are in your career path: whether you are a first-year student ready to start exploring areas of interest or a Master’s candidate interested in securing your next step, the CareerLAB is here to offer you:

  • career-planning resources for every step of the process,
  • personalized consulting sessions,
  • on-campus recruiting and other chances to meet with employers,
  • opportunities to expand your professional network,
  • funding for internships and research projects,
  • skill-building workshops, webinars and other events,
  • wellness and social activities,
  • and more!

We look forward to serving you and working with you to enhance your professional future.

Best,

Matt Donato
Director, Center for Careers and Life After Brown