In 2004, I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts. Leaving NY’s famous Lincoln Center I left proud with my gown blowing in the wind. A bystander stopped me and said, “Oh, wow! Congratulations! What did you get your degree in?” With a big smile I replied, “Theater!”
Her demeanor changed. That smile quickly turned into a puzzled side tilt, “What can you do with that?” I gave the only reply I could think of, “Lots of things” and skipped down the street.
That one question put a damper on my achievement just a bit. I knew that even with a degree in the arts, I still had to bust my butt like every other starving artist in New York City. Was it an advantage? Looking back I realize it wasn’t because all that matters is your audition and your visual fit for the role. Since that time I have used my degree in many off-the-wall ways and entered corporate America.
Most people I encounter believe their college degrees mean nothing. They haven’t used it, don’t plan on using it, and it’s stuffed in a drawer somewhere collecting dust. Statistically around 30% of college graduates actually have careers related to their field. While that’s low, there’s still hope. How can you dust off your hard-earned and expensive degree quickly?
First things first. Realize that it’s not that bad. If you’re anything like me, getting to college was a huge accomplishment. No one in my family had ever ventured into higher education, and I was motivated to be the first by any means necessary.
Yes, I acquired some debt in the process, but I have an achievement that no one can take away from me. It may be considered “useless”, but it’s yours. Only 40% Americans from 25 to 64 have college degrees. That’s not a lot. You’re in an elite club, so pat yourself on the back!
Bridge the Gap
I’m not referring to a master’s degree, unless it’s free. There are ways that you can supplement that “useless” degree by taking additional courses online or certification to elevate your skill set, and it doesn’t take much. Continuous learning is not only attractive to hiring managers, but it removes you from just having a degree that you haven’t used.
Highlight Your Transferable Skills On Your Résumé
In your job search transferable skills are your golden ticket. If you have any form of a degree, you are able to analyze and interpret information, communicate effectively, delegate, work with others, etc. The list goes on and on. Don’t just list them, but show how you’ve used those skills in your career up until now.
I’ve felt the frustration of sitting at a job getting the same salary as someone who didn’t bother to attend. Thoughts like, “Why did I bother?” may run through your head constantly, but now is the time for you to change your perspective on your college experience.
Despite the student loan payments, it was worth it. I was able to use my “useless” degree to my advantage, proving that stranger wrong and you can too!
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