A Guest Post by April Pensa, Student, Marist College
A common misconception is that most college students enter their freshman year already having their major declared. The truth is a majority of college freshmen enter undeclared, questioning what career path is right for them. As an undeclared student myself, I know how difficult and frustrating this can be. Social media can be a great tool for undeclared students to explore majors and possible professions. I’d like to share with you the two main ways that social media has gotten me on the path to declaring my major.
- Defining your personal brand will result in a self-assessment.
The practice of defining your personal brand on social media is key, no matter what your intentions are. Personal branding is the process of marketing yourself through your career, personality, values, etc. as a brand. It is the means by which people remember you and how you present yourself. Personal branding allows professionals to build their business or get noticed by employers, but how can this practice help undeclared students?
By defining your personal brand, you will be forced to do a self-evaluation. This will entail figuring out what your personality is, what your values are, what you want to be known for, and most importantly, how you want to be remembered. Each of these aspects of a personal brand are crucial in determining a major. First, evaluate your personality. Are you social and outgoing or more introverted and reserved? Personality plays an important role in career choices, and so it is important to pick a major that corresponds well with your personality. Next, evaluate your values. Do you value leadership or teamwork? If so, pick a major that focuses on that. Then you have to decide what you want to be known for and how you want to be remembered. This answer will only come to you through a thorough self-assessment, perhaps through your personal brand.
We can see how so many of the thought processes we must go through, while defining our personal brand, are similar to the thought processes that we must go through while declaring our major. The practice of defining your personal brand can force you to start asking yourself the questions that must be asked. Then, once your brand is defined, it can be further established on social media, giving you additional insight into the major that is right for you. By defining my personal brand in my “Leadership, Communications, and Social Media” class and displaying it on my Twitter, I was able to determine which types of professions would be right for me.
- Following the right people will give you exposure to specific majors and careers.
The biggest advantage of social media is that it allows us to interact with others who have common interests and knowledge. Social media enables users to create and share content and participate in social networking. Through social media we can explore information, ideas, and career interests. We can see how this would be beneficial for an undeclared student.
Twitter is one of the largest social networking services used today. This social media platform allows us to follow and interact with businesses, professionals, and even friends/classmates that interest us. Undeclared students could benefit from Twitter by following upperclassmen. By following upperclassmen, you can observe what it is like to have a specific major. Students are often tweeting class assignments and interacting with professionals in their field. If you follow multiple students who are doing this, you are exposed to different majors and professions. You can also create an alumni network and even follow industry news.
Another great networking site to take advantage of is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a site for professionals to connect with colleagues, increase business connections, discuss ideas, and network within their industry. Although this seems like a site for those who have it all figured out, it could also be very advantageous for those who don’t. Through LinkedIn, you are able to connect with professionals who either interest you or work in fields that interest you. On LinkedIn, professionals are constantly posting articles regarding their work, or curating content related to their field. It would be extremely useful to any undeclared student to be provided with this amount of exposure to content concerning their prospective major. LinkedIn could also be used to reach out to thought leaders and ask if you could possibly meet up for an interview. This not only provides you with useful information but allows you to make important connections for your future.
The only way to know if something is right for you is to do your research. Through both Twitter and LinkedIn, (as well as other social media platforms) undeclared students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge base by becoming aware of information that cannot be portrayed in the classroom. By following and connecting with those who are specialized in the majors that I was interested in, I was able to determine which majors could be a good fit for me and which would not work.
Declaring a major is definitely not easy, especially if you’re like me and enter college with absolutely no idea what you would like to do. There are ways, though, to get you on the track of declaring your major, and social media is an important one. It’s easy to talk to an advisor about a possible major, but how much is someone else going to help you? You need to figure out what’s right for you and what it is that you want. Social media is an amazing way to do this. By defining your personal brand and connecting with professionals who share common interests with you, you’ll be well on your way to declaring your major.
April Pensa is an honors student at Marist College, and is from Long Island, New York. She is currently undeclared, but is motivated by her curiosity towards learning. After a semester of research and the help of social media, April has interests in Business Administration, Fashion Merchandising and Spanish. You can connect with her on Twitter @AprilPensa1.