Peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and milk, Kanye and Kim (for now)'some things just naturally go together. In the same way that a juicy steak and a pint of cold beer synergize to create a gustatory experience that could make heaven itself salivate, certain skills'when paired right'can compliment each other beautifully. This can give you a distinct advantage in the workplace, where most people have gained degrees that specialize in developing very particular and specific skills.
Gaining an edge over your peers is essential for students graduating with general degrees like BAs and BScs. (Y'know, since everybody and their dog has one these days.) You're going to need a little somethin' somethin' to set you apart. It might take a little longer to finish your school, since crossing over from one specialization to another takes a bit of time, but it can be well worth the effort.
Carmen Sicilia, director of Career and Professional Development at McGill University's School of Continuing Studies, frequently sees students who've graduated and are looking for real-world skills that compliment their major. From engineers to art majors, Sicilia sees all types pursuing continuing education, and has been able to identify which skills are most complimentary.
One example? English students seem to find public relations a nice fit for their writing skills.
The writing skills that they learned in English are transferrable and give them an edge in public relations. They can focus on developing the skills of public relations professional and not on the skills of writing, because it's a huge part of the profession, says Sicilia. She adds that people who major in languages have a particularly marketable skill that would be of value to any profession.
Health services management, Sicilia notes, is an option that psychology and sociology majors can pursue. They can actually tap those skills and knowledge about working in a social organization ... they can apply the skills they've learned to a program like HSM. They can compliment the two together and work in health and social services.
Don't worry science crew, we haven't forgotten about you. We could all get used to the Big Bang Theory way of life'living in a nice apartment with a delightfully eccentric colleague and an on-again-off-again hot girlfriend across the hall'but while you're waiting for this to become reality, Sicilia suggests it might be worth looking into learning about the IT side of things.
What [science students] do is come back and take courses in management, and might compliment it with an IT background. Then they can go into a profession that is related to architecture design, or web design, and work with a pharmaceutical company or a technical company. With the science background they have, the computer technology background is really helpful.
Business and management skills are kind of like a nice pair of jeans. The more time you spend with them, the more comfortable they become, and they go with pretty much everything. You can't find a profession that wouldn't benefit from an employee with great business and management skills. If you're looking to gain some basic managerial skills and become a business-savvy job candidate, you can take a shorter course with a continuing education program.
There are students that don't have an interest in an MBA. [They can] take a shorter program of either 15 credits or 30 credits and they all get the skills related to business management. They can compliment that with arts or even a science degree, says Sicilia.
Another popular option for general arts grads is teaching. Schools across the country offer both concurrent, and continuing education options that will assist you in getting your BEd.
There are also some schools that offer combined degrees. Several schools across the country offer a joint program that gets you your Juris Doctor degree, as well as an MBA. While the program is competitive, graduates with this combination on their resume are irresistible to employers. Lethbridge, Western, McGill and the University of Calgary are examples of schools that all have great combination degree programs.
Ultimately, it's up to you to get creative in mixing your skills. There are loads of combinations out there that could lead to a unique skill-set. It's all about research and experimentation. Think about how bland this world would be without chocolate milk, and then get out there and find that perfect degree combination. The world could always use more pioneers. And chocolate milk.
Patrick is currently a staff writer and editorial assistant at Jobpostings Magazine. He spends most of his free time being awesome. That keeps him pretty busy. Otherwise, you'll most likely find him perusing the streets of downtown Toronto, spending a significant portion of his income on coffee and trying to make it as a musician. He hasn't quite made it, yet.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PJErskine