Reading time: 3 minutes
“Why are you pursuing this career?”
This question is often asked towards me during interviews, especially when the interviewer knows about my educational background which is (often) irrelevant to the position I am applying for. To answer this question, I simply say that this position matches my career path. A diplomatic answer, because it shows my confidence and that I am a well-thought individual.
However, I understand that not many people dare to do this move: working in a totally unrelated field from what they studied in college. In my case, I have to. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master of Arts degree in Asian Studies. Now, exactly what kind of job should I apply for with such degrees in hand?
When I still lived in Indonesia and whenever people asked me about my major, they always asked me with the following question, “But what do you want to be after you graduate? A teacher?” To which I replied, “I don’t know yet”. I think it’s a common misconception in Indonesia that people who study archaeology, history, or literature, can only work as educators, PNS, or in an NGO.
Fast forward with my arrival in the Netherlands, I thought I could start my career here in a History-related position after getting that hard-earned MA degree. However, my expectation turned out to be false. Actually, now I can work in a museum, but they prefer Dutch-speaking candidates and/or people who have built a life-long portfolio in History or museum work. How can I build a portfolio in museum work if I come from a country that doesn’t care about preserving its’ history?
So I decided to dig deeper to find my hidden talents and what I like to do that can be profitable. I realize that I have had a knack for writing since high school days and I always have a good pair of eyes for design. I also understand a little bit of HTML and know a thing or two about SEO optimization. So why not make a career out of it? That’s how I formulated my career plan: to be the go-to person in a company’s content creation process.
Many people have a huge burden on their shoulders or the mindset that they have to work based on their college degree. If you studied law, then you have to find work as a lawyer, a paralegal, or someone in the law enforcement industry. Why? Maybe they think of college as their investment. Not working based on their college degree means putting four years of higher education to waste.
I beg to differ. You can study anything you want to and work in any field you want to. In the end, you will realize that your study contributes to your professional skill. Take me for an example. Studying History-related subject for 5 years enhances my analytical thinking ability, trains me in pattern-based thinking, and most of all, it boosts my writing skill. Thanks to History-related major, now I can explain something to different people based on their level of comprehension of said subject. I will use different words and language tone to explain ‘home automation’ to a 5-year-old and to a professional.
To conclude, if you want to do something entirely different to your college degree after graduation, WHY NOT? Who knows it might become your new thing to like and perhaps a career path for you!