Why your degree doesn’t matter – or: How to choose your own career path

How dramatically we can change our own career paths is largely a question of motivation. Merely 20 years ago, the steps you took as an adolescent decided your future career. However, nowadays your study or apprenticeship can be seen as an orientation at most.

This is a plea for all the freethinkers out there: Follow your passion and get a job outside of your college major. Let us tell you why – and how.

Should I be brave? The advantages of lateral entrants

A study in 2010 found out that only one quarter of college graduates worked in a job that was related to their field of studies. As a conclusion, 75% of all majors end up using their learned skills in completely different sectors – for example in the sports business: „There have been more lateral entrants, especially in departments like E-Commerce, Digital, Sales and Marketing. Something which has been impossible in the past. Times are changing.“, says Andy Gugenheimer, professional Headhunter and Sportyjob founder.

A look at our our own Candidate database proves the variety of experience. Of course, there’s graduates who studied sports, who studied business, but also engineers, biologists, teachers, psychologists, .. What we see in it, is a colorful mix of abilities and experience – a big advantage for every company.

Lateral entrants provide great talents: They introduce techniques to solve tasks outside of the regular scheme, by bringing in methods from other fields or just a completely different way to look at given challenges.
Furthermore, they contribute motivation and passion , because they CHOOSE what they want to be, something which can energize a whole team.

Just hiring the most experienced in a related field might cost many companies fantastic employees. Diversity holds the key to a team complementing each other with their different skills.

How to get a job outside of your former experience

Can I get hired without the right degree or former experience in the job? Of course! It will be a challenge to convince a recruiter that you are the perfect candidate. But with a combination of passion, organisation, effort and endurance, you will work it out. It’s up to you.

1. It all starts with your own will

You’re not forced to continue working in a job that you don’t like and which doesn’t yield the advantages you’re looking for. Choose a new destination and start your way. It needs a lot of willpower, but it will change your life for the better.

2. Define your goals

What’s your passion or what are you interested in? Is there a specific company, department, position, … that you’re dreaming of? Set your goals and see what it takes. If you lack the skills, you know what’s up next: Invest in yourself.

3. Earn the necessary skills

Even without studying a field or working in it before, you can achieve the knowledge to work some magic in a job. You will have to invest some time (and money) and face a lot of additional work. See which skills are required and acquire them. You want to program websites? Teach yourself HTML. Online Marketing? Learn about SEO straight from Google.
A good way to do so is with online courses – here’s some platforms that offer paid and free courses: Free courses to advance your career – some of them even by elite universities. Just remember: You can try any discipline – and make it your own.

4. Believe in yourself: Present your own skills

„Anything that brushes up your CV is helpful – and you might end up with interviews that you weren’t expecting.“ The best advice Andy can give you. If you’re lacking experience, give personnel managers something else instead that they can work with.

Like we said before, lateral entrants carry a variety of abilities from other fields. Whether it’s additional language skills, analytical techniques, communication skills – you definitely have a lot of talents. Believe in them.

For example, Baristas and Waiters bring along extraordinary stress resistance and social skills. They are very service orientated, are able to figure out their client’s needs and solve problems if something doesn’t work according to plan. Magic for every Sales department.

5. Show your passion

Nothing flatters a personnel manager like someone who’s passionate about working with them. Since you decided on changing your life and setting a new course to fit their needs, make it count. In your application letter or an interview, let them know what you learned and achieved. A great way to do so, is by handing in a Video CV. Not only will it stand out, but it’s also your chance to present your soft skills and your motivation instead of relying on experience and abilities on paper.

If you want to give it a try, read our guide „How to do a video resume“.

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