According to the media and various institutions of higher education, the job market is becoming more and more competitive each year, with the rising number of college graduates saturating the market for entry-level positions. The increasing competition in the job market, along with the obvious desire of college grads to secure employment, has led to a greater demand in skills to supplement majors. Now, more than ever, it has become more opportune to add a minor to a primary field of study.
If a minor results in extra credits and stress, then why do it? The most obvious reason would be to enhance a major and add an extra qualification to your resume. In many instances, a major is simply not enough; nowadays, a minor is almost necessary to gain an advantage over competitors. To some, a minor may not seem advantageous because it doesn’t require the same level of study as a major, but that extra line on your resume could potentially mean the difference between a job offer and a rejection.
Though minors are becoming more necessary to survive the increasing competition in the modern job market, not all minors are created equal. It can be argued that virtually any field of study can supplement your primary field, but there are particular minors that are especially useful when considering the globalized nature of today’s job market. Here are a few choice minors that are certain to give you an advantage in the job search:
1. Foreign Language
Considering the global nature of today’s job market, proficiency in a foreign language is one of the skills employers desire most from college grads, especially those seeking international opportunities. In today’s global society, a solid foundation in a foreign language leads to a new world of opportunities, from the chance to work abroad or simply a greater chance of promotion over a mono-lingual, and therefore less skilled, co-worker.
Among the most useful foreign languages for English speakers to learn are Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, though there are certainly other great languages to learn. Spanish is an obvious choice for Americans, as the U.S. becomes more connected to Latin America, politically and culturally, and the prominence of Spanish in everyday life increases.
Chinese, specifically Mandarin, is the most commonly spoken language in the world, with over a billion speakers. Chinese is an excellent language for those entering a career in business, or any field, as the U.S. continues to deepen its relationship with China. Furthermore, Chinese provides an excellent opportunity for immersion into one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures, as well as exposure to a variety of professional opportunities.
Arabic is also one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages, with hundreds of millions of native speakers. Arabic is also a great language for those entering a career in business and, like Chinese, provides a pathway to understanding complex and fascinating cultures in the Middle East and Africa, as well as other Arabic-speaking areas throughout the world.
Knowledge of a foreign language provides enhancement beyond an extra line to a resume or LinkedIn profile. Foreign language education also provides an introduction to different cultures and enhances understanding of society.
2. Business Administration
Fundamental business skills are certain to give you an advantage in the job market. Though a minor in business administration will not provide the depth that a major will, minors will still become equipped in the necessary fundamentals, such as basic accounting, finance and Excel. A minor in business administration provides transferable skills across industries as well.
For majors in the arts and humanities, a minor in business administration is a great way to supplement a liberal arts education because it successfully demonstrates well-roundedness. Ability to succeed in more than one field is an attractive quality to employers, and also demonstrates willingness to learn outside of a primary area of study.
There are also concentrations in business administration, should you develop interest in a specific area of business. A popular concentration is entrepreneurship, which is a great choice because students can use the concepts and personalize them by applying them across industries.
3. Computer Science
One of the most in-demand skills employers desire is technical skills, especially proficiency in programming languages, such as Java and C++ , to name a few. The demand for employees with technical skills is increasing as technology becomes more universal and applicable to more and more industries. Even if computer science and technology in general isn’t directly applicable to your field, these additional skills will not only boost your resume, but provide you with a set of attractive transferable skills.
Some students may find the idea of minoring in computer science odd, especially if CS is completely unrelated to their major. However, the overarching theme I have been trying to emphasize is not minoring in a field directly related to your major, but adding a set of transferable, cross-industry skills. Skills in multiple fields is almost necessary to be a competitive candidate.
One important piece of information to keep in mind is careful planning for a minor. Ideally, a minor should be decided and declared early in the college career, particularly in the first and second years. A good way to decide if a minor is right for you, and if so, in which field, is to explore classes in many areas in the first year. However, even the addition of a minor later in your college career can prove to be useful as well. It’s never too late to learn a few new skills.
Once you decide on a minor, you have just done yourself a great favor. Get ready to advance faster than your classmates, and experience the wealth of new opportunities!