Doing what I do for a living, I learn a lot of people’s plans for life after college, which is to say I learn— at least at the time of asking— a lot of people’s planned college major. As I’ve been at this since late 2006, I’d say I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed a trend or two in this area, and thought it might be worth writing a blog about. This is that blog.
Is “trendy” a dirty word?
First off, when I think of this word, I think of it as a synonym of popular, with a bit of a negative connotation to it. Personally, I attribute this unfavorable bent to the fact that trends can be quite topical, fickle, and not necessarily reflective of wise decision-making so much as decision-making that is based on the popularity of a given theme or subject area.
Take a popular theme in television, for example. More specifically, take the once ubiquitous role of the CSI, or crime scene investigator, that graced every TV channel during primetime for like, what, a decade? Guess what I used to hear a lot of when asking kids The Question* during this time period? That’s right, they wanted to be CSIs: Driving purple Hummers, wearing equally loud-colored suits and reflective million-dollar shades, and always solving cases within the length of an episode… or two or three MAX. As that trend sailed into the fittingly Caribbean (or Floridian or whatever) sunset, so did kids telling me they wanted to be CSIs, more generally known as forensic scientists (click me for a ton of info on the career, and scroll to the bottom for wage info!).
If you looked at popular TV shows today, what might you guess trendy soon-to-be college kids are picking? I’m going with chefs and athletic trainers, though the latter has more to do with the popularity and presence of sports in our culture than any specific set of TV shows on the subject. Plus I love The Great British Baking Show and have been known to fall asleep watching Chopped reruns.
* What do you want to do for a living?
Opportunity vs. Passion
I watched this video from TV’s Mike Rowe and felt like he got at a piece of career advice that’s really changed since I was graduating from high school (for reference, I may or may not have graduated in a year enshrined by a very popular Prince song [RIP, Purple One]): Following your passion may not be the savviest personal mantra in 2016.
Does this mean you should choose a major or career that makes you miserable in the name of being practical? No, but it does mean you should consider the market in relation to your passions, and also that you can still do things that make you passionate outside of a work context. It also means doing some career inventories to see what you may not even know is right up your alley, or just some light reading to see what subject areas and career fields you relate to.
Popular TV trends are not a good barometer for making career decisions. If they were, we’d see sexy petroleum engineers on FOX for the two hours leading up to the local news. And from what I can reading about that career, they wouldn’t have a lot to work with. So whether you’re motivated by money, morals, or something else (not TV!) entirely, consider your reasons for heading down that path, and do some research on the likelihood of things working out in your favor. There are an abundance of resources for doing so, and we at EducationQuest would be happy to help.