In a tough economy like this one, it's easy to get caught up in the negativity. It's true, the unemployment rate for recent graduates is high and the average amount of debt per student is growing. Despite these sobering statistics, there are several newly created career paths that just may be a perfect fit for you. Many of these jobs are so new that most colleges don't offer a major for them yet, meaning they're fair game for just about anyone!
1. Paid Blogger - As companies are realizing the benefits of having an active presence online, many have started hiring freelance or salaried company bloggers. Just about anyone with a stellar writing portfolio could qualify, but it may help if you have some experience or connection with the company's industry. I got my job as the editor at Uloop's blog because I started a community blog at my college last year.
Suggested Majors: English, Communications, Marketing, Public Relations
Other Requirements: Start a personal blog and keep it very focused on the industry you want to work in. Also, start contributing to other blogs. You'll probably need to write 2 to 7 articles per week in order to get your blog noticed, and show people you're serious.
2. Social Media Manager/Strategist - Over 59% of the Fortune 100 companies have dedicated a special part of their PR firm to managing and monitoring social media accounts, but that number is expected to rise quickly in the coming years. Much like paid bloggers, social media managers help project a company's image online by keeping up with engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Some of these jobs also involve more technical work, like creating Facebook apps or integrating social networks with the company's website.
Suggested Majors: Public Relations, Communications, Information Technology, Marketing, Statistics
Other Requirements: For many companies, Klout score has become the de facto standard for measuring influence on social networks. Make sure all your social media accounts are squeeky clean and open to the public, then focus your content on the industry you're interested in. Post at least 3-5 times per day on Twitter and 1-2 on Facebook, but the most important part is engaging with people in the industry you're pursuing. You never know who you'll meet by actively networking online!
3. User Experience Designer - Companies are paying more attention to design and user experience than ever before. While this job can be web or software based, it doesn't have to be. Experts in user experience have to have a firm attention to detail, an eye for design, and familiarity with the consumer's mindset.
Suggested Majors: Psychology, Retail Studies, Fashion Design, Marketing, Graphic Design, Architecture, Industrial Design, Information Technology
Other Requirements: Having a design or concepts portfolio will be your biggest advantage in this field. Start getting familiar with Photoshop or some CAD programs that are relevant to your industry. Read (and maybe write your own) case studies about consumer behavior and spending, and build a portfolio.
4. 3-D Graphics Designer - Ever since America fell in love with Pixar's Toy Story, 3-D design has become a huge part of the film industry. Video games have also become a big business as products like the X-Box Kinect and Nintendo Wii are bringing gaming to a more mainstream audience. Other companies need 3-D and motion graphics designers for advertisements, websites, or marketing material. You'll need a little bit of training, so if your school doesn't offer it, I suggest finding a course or two online.
Suggested Majors: Graphic Design, Advertising, Film Studies, Marketing, Computer Science, Information Technology, Art
Other Requirements: As always, companies would rather hire a graduate with established experience than train someone fresh. Start reading into the tools that major players in the industry use, and see if you can invest in a discounted student version. Once you get familiar with them, build a portfolio. Going into an interview with a handful of completed projects is a sure-fire way to set yourself apart.
5. Sustainability Consultant - As the government becomes more aware of the harmful effects that heavy metals and CO2 can have on our planet, they have tightened regulation and sanctions on companies who use or process harmful chemicals. Knowing this, many companies have started to realize that green sells, so they try to go the extra mile to provide products that are as environmentally safe as possible. Cutting electricity use, switching to new paints or dyes, constructing efficient buildings, and minimizing fuel consumption can both save a company money and help protect the environment, but many companies don't know where to start. Sustainability consultants are experts (usually in a certain field) in helping companies become more eco-friendly.
Suggested Majors: Chemistry, Engineering, Political Science (or Pre-Law), Environmental Studies, Economics
Other Requirements: Take some extra classes on environmental policy and environmental science if you can. Familiarizing yourself with both the science and the law as well as the basic economics of saving energy will help you be more prepared for an interview. Find out if there are any licenses or certifications that you can get in your state as this may be a requirement for some jobs in sustainability.
6. Patient Advocate - New policies in the medical industry in the past 10-15 years have increased patients' rights when visiting the doctor. Patient advocates are familiar with the policy and common practice at clinics and hospitals and make sure that communication between the doctor, nurses, patient, and insurance company is clearly understood. Often times, family members of a sick or dying person are unable (or too overwhelmed) to take care of the day-to-day work involved in filing bills, negotiating with insurance, calling doctors, and filling prescriptions, so Patient Advocates can be a huge help in their time of need.
Suggested Majors: Nursing, Pre-Medical, Communications, Social Work, Sociology, Psychology
Other Requirements: Some experience in the medical field will likely be required. Volunteering at a local hospital or nursing home may be a great way to see first-hand how things work without needing prior experience. You'll also want to make sure you're up for this kind of work because you'll spend a lot of your time around sick and dying people. While knowing that you're making a difference in their quality of life is comforting, some people may find the work environment depressing.
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