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Five Essential Job Skills You Can Learn in Any Major

There are a lot of majors out there that supposedly “don’t have jobs.” You may have heard that you “can’t just get a job at the Philosophy factory,” or that tenure-track professorships are going away. Fair enough. However, unemployment is currently at a decade low, which means all these philosophy and music and history majors are finding work somewhere. How? Well, my guess is that a lot of them know how to convince employers that their skills are useful. Here are five job skills you can learn in any major.

Job Skill: Event management.

Have you planned a recital? Do you help out with student organizations? Have you ever figured out who was going to bring the chips to the next meeting? You’re beginning to develop event management skills. Start volunteering to take on responsibilities for larger events. If you can point to a big event you’ve pulled off, you’ll have an incredible industry-crossing resume booster.

Job Skill:  Writing.

Being able to clearly communicate over text is a hugely important skill. Don’t brush off papers and English classes – go to the Writing Center offered by your school if you need help. Being able to write clearly is important for program notes, resumes, biographies, grant-writing, and a million other things, both related to music and otherwise. Start a blog (like this one!). Put in a little more effort on your next paper. See if you can work at your school’s newspaper. It all helps.

Job Skill:  Programming.

This may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy music theory, you probably have the right kind of brain for coding. It’s all problem-solving with numbers and weird terms and formats. Taking a programming course or two in your undergrad could lead to freelancing opportunities, a day job, or even just a better understanding of how to build your personal website. You can also study online through a whole bunch of resources, include The Odin Project, Codecademy, and the app SoloLearn.  

Job Skill:  General leadership.

Join the board of a student org. Get a job as a house manager. Become an RA – free housing! Go to leadership training events. Anything that helps you get the feel for being in charge of a group of people is going to be so, so helpful to you in the long term, especially if you plan on directing, conducting, teaching, or otherwise leading any group of musicians ever. Plus, it will be very helpful on future resumes.

Job Skill:  Problem-solving and research.

Take your history courses seriously – they are where you’re going to learn a lot of research skills. Ditto your music theory classes – they will teach you how to figure stuff out when it’s dense, confusing, or just weird. Use your library access as much as you can. Learn how to google effectively, because the ability to teach yourself something quickly can make you stand out. Understanding how to find the answer to a question is a skill EVERYONE needs. Rarely in the real world will there be a textbook assigned to a situation. If you know how to figure stuff out on your own, you’re going to be able to do a lot more in life.

Now go forth and learn stuff. You got this!

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