May 25, 2024

When first starting off their collegiate careers, students always ask the question: What should I major in? Schools like California Baptist University offer more than 200 academic programs alone for students to choose from, ranging from business to songwriting. There is no shortage of programs running from the traditional to the unorthodox. Yet, in an era where students have more choices than ever, undergraduates are struggling to decide. This reflects a shift in thinking towards the workplace and displays how workers need to become well-versed in numerous areas as opposed to a singular location, especially as fewer and fewer people spend their entire lives in one career. In fact, switching between careers is almost necessary to bolster one’s employment and financial prospects. 

Being familiar with the changing terminology is necessary, with terms like “job hopping” gaining popularity in recent years. Job hopping, an increasingly relevant phenomenon in the working world, is when someone works different types of jobs, being employed for less than 18 months at a time with each job. While employers typically look down on this, it represents a wider shift in thinking in the job marketplace. 

Forbes magazine writer Cameron Keng pointed out in an article that employees who stay with a company for two years or longer, on average, will lose out on 50% or more of their potential earnings over the course of a lifetime. 

Job hopping is a response to this desire to maximize one’s potential earnings in fear of missing out. This shift in how employees approach the workforce has trickled down to the college student, who is more focused than ever on potential earnings. 

If corporations can have their Cost-Profit-Volume charts to maximize potential earnings, why shouldn’t you? We are all our own CEOs trying to develop and build our own “personal brand,” and I believe this is where most undergraduates should start. This is easier than ever with the plethora of job sites that exist now, such as LinkedIn or Indeed. The major itself may not always matter as much as what you can do for a company, the skills you bring, and how you can help push your company forward. 

After all, I remember my eighth-grade math teacher telling our class how his father had majored in agriculture and ended up working for the oil industry in Alaska. Clearly, they were interested in something beyond his knowledge of agriculture, or else they would have hired someone other than an agronomist in the oil business, an industry infamous for being at odds with nature. As long as you know how to market yourself and continually develop new skills, opportunities will come regardless of your chosen field of study. 

While job hopping is generally discouraged, most students should aim for what’s called “steady employment'” with a company between two and four years. This is the desirable time frame because it gives you enough time to learn and develop new skills at that job, allows you to make meaningful contributions that you can demonstrate at interviews for your next job opportunity, and gives you time to search for new job opportunities as the process can be lengthy even with job search sites to help. 

While the job market is more volatile than ever, there are many strategies that individuals can take to succeed in whatever field they wish to work in. There will always be companies looking to hire new talent with fresh ideas, something more and more professionals are catching onto, and leaving from one company to another is a way to be that fresh face with fresh ideas in the company. Who you know matters but sometimes what you can do for someone matters even more.

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