Here’s why you should question your college major. (Part 1)

Your teen is getting closer and closer to college every day. And thus, is getting closer and closer to working in the real world every day.

(Insert scary scream-faced emoji).

But that’s what college is about. No, it’s not all about the football games or parties or dorm-living. It’s really about getting the eduction necessary to pursue a successful career in a certain industry.

So what does that look like? What majors correspond with what jobs? And what is that major anyway?

We’re here to help you with that. At College Liftoff, we spend more than 40 hours with your teen just developing a solid career path–which includes vetting your teen’s strengths and interests, exposing your teen to real-world careers through job shadowing, and educating your teen through research about which majors at which schools do what.

Our advisors are trained experts in this area. Every week, we sit down together as a College Liftoff staff and go through different areas of study and their specialties.

Most teenagers know just a handful of careers: doctors, teachers, nurses, and “my parents do X.” That’s really the extent of the work world that they know because they simply haven’t been exposed to much else.

“But my teen knows exactly what she wants to study,” you might say. That may not necessarily be as true as you and your teen think. There are hundreds of majors out there, and it’s really difficult for your teen to know what each one of them do and which schools do them differently than others.

Not convinced? Let’s break down an example set of degrees that look pretty similar and look at them in context industry.

Today, lets look at Operations, Logistics/Supply Chain Management and Industrial Engineering…and how we develop the right career path for our kids with these majors.

Did you know these majors are actually from two different categories? One is from the technical category and one is from the business category. But they converge like a lot of degrees do–they actually deal with things the same things, but from two different perspectives.

So let’s start with the business side–Operations and Logistics/Supply Chain Management.

With these degrees, you’re actually working on a business. And as a parent, you know that in a business there are many sides.

So think of the operations management side of things as the part that’s doing the actual management of the business. The kids that typically are more “hands on” … think logically … think mathematically (but they’re not calculus heavy–more statistics heavy) … do well with this major.

Let’s paint a picture. Let’s say you’re making a widget in China where you’re having it manufactured. Now you’re getting ready to sell it to every Target store in this country.

So the logistics side of it is that you have to be able to get the the widget made, and then you have to supply it to every every Target around the country.

The supply chain management side of that is how you actually supply the widget to the stores. You have to take a ship, load those goods up from China, and send it to the coast of California where it actually gets dropped off. Then it gets distributed to every single distribution center in Target’s jurisdiction all over the country.

And then from there it probably has to go from those distribution centers to 10 different Target stores.

Here’s the catch of it–you have to make sure it all shows up everywhere at the same exact time, because when the marketing team for Target releases the weekly ads, they can’t do one different from Spokane, Washington than they do in Miami, Florida.

And something else the operations and logistics side has to do is price the widget, because there are manufacturing and shipping costs–but the shipping costs fluctuate between Spokane and Miami. I mean, if you’re landing in San Diego it costs a heck of a lot more to ship it to Miami. But you still have to charge the same price for the widget.

But, let’s now imagine they like it a lot more in Miami than they do in Spokane. So you must constantly keep supplying it there anyway. So how do you do all of this?

That’s what Operations and Logistics/Supply Chain Management majors figure out.

On the other side, you have Industrial Systems and Engineering, which can also be called Industrial Engineering.

While they’re typically doing something very close to what the operations and logistics folks are doing, there are some important and fundamental differences. Important enough differences that you’ll want your teen to clearly understand them and make the right choice of major–because it will significantly change his or her career outcome.

There is simply too much to say here for one post…so we’ll continue with Part 2, where we’ll explain Industrial Engineering.

To be continued…