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Despite Economy, Experts Advise Students to Major in What Interests Them

Despite Economy, Experts Advise Students to Major in What Interests Them

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

“Experience is always helpful, but it is not always the guarantee that person is going to get the job,” she added. “We look at the behaviors and the attitude they bring in and their willingness to be a part of the team and to pay attention to the patients and the families and the visitors.”

Lockheed Martin, which has 146,000 workers worldwide, is constantly seeking workers with a “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) background, said Norman Robbins, senior manager of community relations. Lockheed Martin estimates that it will hire 90,000 scientists and engineers companywide over the next five to 10 years, he said.

Lockheed Martin has all sorts of jobs in all sorts of fields. The company has its own fire department, legal staff and hospital, he said.

One of the skills recruiters consider is the ability to work in teams.

“Most of what we do is problem solving, and you get people with different kinds of skills together to solve the problem,” Robbins said. “If you’re real bright but you can’t get along with anybody, you’re not going to be as successful as you will be if you can work in teams.”

The company also focuses on records of achievement. For example, Lockheed Martin will pay bonuses to students who graduate in the top quarter of their class.

“We get so many applications, we can try to pick the best, and that’s what we certainly ought to do,” he said.

A mistake some students make is to pick a major primarily because they think it will lead to a hot career, said Katharine Brooks, author of the book “You Majored in What?” The market changes; hence the problem finance majors have finding jobs, she points out.

“If I want to be a nurse and there’s a nursing school, it makes perfect sense to enroll in the nursing school,” said Brooks, director of the Liberal Arts Career Services at the University of Texas at Austin.

If students don’t know what career they want to pursue, they might visit the college bookstore and see what textbooks they would most want to read, Brooks said.

“That might be a clue that that’s an area of interest where they’re likely to get good grades, where they’re likely to enjoy the subject,” Brooks said.

“When I look at where philosophy majors go, at alumni lists from here at UT and also from other schools where I’ve worked at, they’re CEOs of companies, they’re lawyers, they’re doctors, they’re surgeons because they’re bright people,” Brooks said.

Internships, jobs, contacts and the ability to market a degree can sometimes be more important than a student’s field of study, experts said.

“It’s not necessarily the major, but how you prepare,” Naegeli said.

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