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Asked by Tanya on September 23, 2015

Which students would you be more likely to hire straight out of college: those who chose to “follow their passions” when selecting college courses, or those who picked their courses specifically with a future career in mind?

Answered by Nell, Hiring Expert at Pitney Bowes, on September 25, 2015

Great Question! And to be honest it’s a difficult answer. I would advise you that it is truly a balancing act. It is so important to feed your passions your whole life; in college and beyond. However it is just as important to think critically and strategically about your career. If your passion is “underwater basket weaving” absolutely pursue that but you must take a realistic look at the situation and understand that there may not be a healthy job market for that profession and majoring in that may put you at a disadvantage in your job hunt post college. Always pursue your passions and things that fuel your soul, but also, always have a back-up plan. A good friend and colleague of mine gave me truly great advice. She said that you can “manage your disappointments by managing your expectations.” This can really apply to your career. Research the career outlook that you are considering by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and look at the outlook for your career. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/. This will help you see what the growth areas are. Also check indeed and see how many jobs in your area there are in the position that you are interested in.
I wish you all the best in your career and in your passions!
-Nell

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on September 29, 2015

You pose a really good question that not many students consider when starting out. Passion is definitely important, but you’ll have to identify if your passion translates to helping you achieve your future goals. Companies want to see that you’re a well-rounded individual capable of performing the duties of the job to which you’re applying. That means if you focused on your love of Art History the entire time you were in college but now want a job in HR management, you’re probably not going to get much traction when applying to HR positions.

Do some research on career prospects in the fields you’re interested. You’ll probably find there are ample opportunities to broaden your education while still giving you the freedom you’d like to explore what you love. Don’t forget that companies need and want a diverse group of individuals to help them innovate for the future, so if you strike the right balance, that passion of yours could be the trump card you need to stand out against someone who is more singularly focused.

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Answered by Marisella, Hiring Expert at American Express, on October 6, 2015

Great question! While both are key to really evaluating candidates, the main aspect is to focus on seeking the right fit for the role. Finding a great fit can sometimes be led from someone who decided to pursue their passions in life or with a future career in mind. I will say that individuals who have both are really the best individuals because they get to pursue what they love to do while planning out how they are going to get there. They are now excited about their career and have a plan in place to make sure they get to where they want to be. It's hard to execute both when you don't have one without the other and be succcessfull.

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