I'm Proud of My Communication Major, so Stop Making Fun of It [Opinion]
This article by Alyssa Mahoney '20 first appeared in Her Campus.
Before entering my first year of college, I had this single-minded purpose that a STEM or science related field was where the best jobs would be and where I would be raking in the money. I was interested in my science and math classes in high school and loved working out and playing sports, so I thought, why the heck wouldn’t I pursue a kinesiology degree, which is all about the study of human movement?
I pursued the major at UMass Amherst for two years. Half of my college career was spent on a major that I somewhat enjoyed, while it was not spent on practicing and developing skills within a major that was really my own. I was afraid for so long that switching to communications (a major that involved two of my favorite things: reading and writing), would make people think that I wasn't putting in as much work as an engineer, lawyer, or doctor. But guess what!
Communications, like other humanities and liberal arts majors, is so much more than the typical questions people ask and the comments people make about it: “How will you make money? There's no money in a major like that”, “Oh, it’s a communications assignment? That won’t be hard to do at all”, “I wish I had a major where I could ‘just relax’ and not have to worry." These are just a few examples of what people have told me about my major; one that I’m proud of and thank myself that I found it at the time I did.
I work hard every day to be the best that I can at what I do. People think communications majors can slack off and don’t have a lot of work to do? Tell me this while I average four long papers a week, countless 50-page readings that are required for a typical class lecture, and all of the projects and research I must do for each of my five classes.
Please, don’t worry if I'll make enough money after college to afford a house, car, yard, pet, and whatever else I decide to do with my money for expenses. I have so many options for jobs just waiting for me when I graduate in a few months, including public relations, journalism, business, human resources, or basically any media job out there.
My biggest pet peeve of a question that I have been asked several times is “what even is communications? Like, what do you even do for work?”
This is what communications looks like in a nutshell: you have your classes and each class is specified towards a certain topic such as global media markets, public relations, music, TV broadcasting, journalism-like courses, etc. We discuss current, past, and possible future events, ranging from political, social, and economic issues, to learning about the forces shaping media today. We analyze the world with a critical eye to effectively communicate the truth to people.
I have learned so much in this major, including some general knowledge that any professional should have, but may lack from their education. This knowledge includes interviewing skills, public speaking skills, and being able to write and speak effectively to employers and other employees to maintain and grow a successful business. I have also applied my more passionate skills outside of my classes to great organizations where real jobs exist (thank you, Her Campus).
Every person has different goals, skills, and mindsets as they strive for what they want to do in life. We all face the dreaded long papers or the all-nighters spent studying for tests. We wake up sleep-deprived in the morning only to be stressed about the next assignment or the next test. Maybe we throw in the part-time jobs, clubs/organizations, outside work from school that we have to do to be well-rounded candidates for jobs, on top of all the job and internship applications we have to put out there. Don’t mention that we also need a social life, a healthy lifestyle, and keep up with all prior commitments.
Every profession is important in the grand scheme of things. Human resource specialists are needed in most companies to maintain a healthy and operative working environment. Engineers may need doctors because of a work-related injury. Spokespeople, even Mark Zuckerberg, have public relations specialists. Journalists write and broadcast stories and important events to people everywhere.
One major is just as important as the next, for different purposes. We need to realize that putting down a student’s major will not benefit you or another person in the future. They won’t be able to help you as a result of them being 'major shamed' and following a career path they didn’t intend to pursue.
Hopefully I have given you the basis of just how important and useful a communications degree really is. If I haven’t helped you in any way, I’m sorry, I am only here to give insight; I can’t force you to be respectful of another major that requires hard work and absolute dedication.
All in all, we must respect each other’s majors, as we’re all just trying to get through the beautiful times and major ferocity of being a college student. We’re all stressed and working our little tails off, so please stop believing that the imaginary character, or in this case, a degree like communications being an ‘easy major’ is real.