Advice for Awkward People

Dear Alexandra,

Sometimes it’s hard being at this school. I know Carnegie Mellon is diverse and offers a wide variety of majors, but there is a lot of pressure when it is known for excelling in some areas more than others. Specifically, so much attention seems to go toward those who have more technical majors, such as engineering or computer science, and my major doesn’t fall into either of those categories. Most of the career fairs tend to attract employers seeking students in only those fields, and sometimes my friends seem to belittle my experiences because I am not in one of the sought-after majors like they are. I don’t want to start any fights, but I hate when they make comments that seem to judge my academic choices. It can be really frustrating, and I am having trouble figuring out the right way to approach these problems. Please help.

Not Ordinarily Technical, Crying Sadly

Dear NOT CS,

I understand that it can be really hard when it seems like everyone else has an advantage, or looks down on what you do. I know it may be easier said than done, but make sure that what you are studying, whatever it may be, makes you happy. If not that, make sure that it will at least help you with where you want to go in the future. School is obviously not all sunshine and rainbows, but if what you’re studying interests you, or provides you with more benefits than costs, the struggle will be worth it in the end.

While it is definitely difficult to face others, especially friends, you may want to consider discussing your point of view with them. You deserve to be here just as much as they do, and if they’re truly your friends, they will be open to hearing your perspective and hopefully will change their behavior to be less judgmental and more respectful of what you do.

I’m not exactly sure of the scope of the situation, but know that they may not mean it in as negative a way as it may appear. While they might seem arrogant, it might actually be because they lack the skills that you have to excel in your field of choice. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so it might strike a nerve in them that you’re succeeding in something they’re not as good at.

With regard to the career fairs, I don’t think there’s much we can do on an individual level since we’re not in control of which employers are interested in Carnegie Mellon students and whatnot, but if you’re unsure how to approach getting jobs or internships using your major’s skill set, there are definitely resources available through the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) and Handshake. I probably sound like a broken record when I say this, but there are definitely opportunities if you’re willing to put in the effort. While I haven’t had a lot of experience yet professionally, it’s definitely worth looking into. I know I’ll be doing the same.

Best of luck,