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Technical knowledge and industry experience are far less important than the "softer skills" of managing people, priorities, information, time, and (most importantly) yourself.

Your College Major May Not Prepare You for Your Job—but It Can Prepare You for Life

How much does your college major matter? The answer varies a lot, depending on which industry you’re trying to break into.

For example, I’m a white collar worker, and work alongside folks with undergraduate degrees in history, finance, literature, and psychology. Yet I’ve noticed among medical professionals, it is generally frowned upon to dispense medical wisdom under the mighty authority of a BA in Film Criticism. Hmm. Curious!

I spend a lot of time working with recent graduates in the course of my Clark Kent day job. And I’ve noticed that a lot of them seem apologetic or insecure about their majors, especially when those majors don’t relate directly to the assigned task.

Just the other day, I was getting sloppy with my speech in a one-on-one meeting with a mentee, using too many unnecessary bits of industry jargon. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “but could you please explain what that means? I love marketing, but I only found that out about myself once I started doing internships in my senior year. It was too late to change my major, so I’m really behind.”

It kinda broke my heart! (And was totally my bad. I didn’t need to say “stakeholder feedback needs to be strategically leveraged against known best practices” when I could’ve just said “clients are ignorant babies, ignore them whenever possible.”) There’s a learning curve for every new job, no matter how familiar you are with the industry; no reasonable person expects you to instantaneously intuit absolutely everything.

I think a lot of our readers could benefit from a healthy reminder that you bring great value to your job role just by being you, regardless of what you studied in school or learned in internships. In my observation, technical know-how and industry experience are far less important than the “soft skills” of managing people, priorities, time, data, and (most importantly) yourself.

Piggy and I have our own observations, but they’re based on the narrow experiences we’ve lived or observed firsthand. So I thought I’d float this discussion in our Patreon community. I asked donors for their insights into skills and habits they learned in their majors, and how it serves them in the job role they perform today. And like the dedicated employees of the United States Postal Service, they delivered!

The best advice comes from real, lived experiences—and the more diverse, the better. Here’s hoping this advice will inspire younger readers who are still deciding on this issue, as well as more established folks who may be questioning the feasibility of a major career shift.

… Omg, a “major” career shift! Get it??

Here are some things that your “off-topic” major might teach you…

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Season 2 Episode 10: "Which is Smarter: Getting a Loan? or Saving up to Pay Cash?"

Season 2, Episode 10: “Which Is Smarter: Getting a Loan? or Saving up to Pay Cash?”

The financial lessons we received from our parents are problematic for many reasons.

For one thing, they’re often out of date, as the economic atmosphere of the 1970s and 1980s is a far cry from what we’ve experienced in a post-2008 world. We’re long past the quaint advice to pay for college by “getting a summer job” and to start a career by “walking into a business and asking for a job in the mailroom.” Heckin precious.

But there’s also the way an assumption of background knowledge can lead to further confusion. For if you don’t understand basic financial principles, the sweet knowledge nuggets your beloved Boomer dad drops on you might go down like lead balloons. Just as you can’t understand where Beyoncé came from without Destiny’s Child, you can’t talk about getting loans until you understand how interest works!

This week we’re dealing with just this issue. Petey is one of my oldest and strangest friends. I made him walk down the aisle with Kitty at my wedding in the hopes that those two weirdos would have a vulgar joke-off (alas, they conducted themselves with the decorum expected of a bridesmaid and a groomsman and saved the nasty shit for the dance floor).

Petey has his head all in a tizzy over his dad’s vague and incomplete financial advice. So we decided to set the poor boy straight!

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S2 E5: "What do I need to know about moving into my first apartment?"

Season 2, Episode 5: “What Do I Need to Know about Moving into My First Apartment?”

It is Bitches Get Riches canon that Kitty and I met when we were randomly assigned roommates freshman year of college. We bonded through the adversity of cohabiting in a forced triple with an infuriating third party who shall forever remain nameless. The two of us shared a bunkbed and ceded one entire half of the room to that creature’s baffling habits and excessive belongings. I won’t go into it except to quote General William Tecumseh Sherman: “War is hell.”

Yet BGR lore rarely tells the end of the story! For after that fateful freshman year, we went on to rent our first apartment together, taking our roommateship to the next level. Nothing tests a friendship like shopping for a shower curtain together.

We survived our fourth-floor walkup with its busted dollhouse dishwasher and coffin-like shower. But more importantly, our friendship survived.

And thus, we feel uniquely qualified to dispense advice on Baby’s First Apartment!

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S02E02: "I'm not ready to buy a house---but how do I *get ready* to get ready?"

Season 2, Episode 2: “I’m Not Ready to Buy a House—But How Do I *Get Ready* to Get Ready?”

Previously on season two of the Bitches Get Riches podcast…

We dealt with the existential guilt of crushing your personal finances while your friends struggle to get by. This time, though, we’re taking a question from the other end of the spectrum. What do you do, practically and mentally, when your very modest life goal feels like a financial impossibility?

Naturally, we had opinions. And not just because we are two loudmouthed internet white ladies who have never learned when to shut up!

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It's taken me months to write this article. I sacrificed the adventure of a lifetime to keep my job. A month later, they fired me anyway.

I Lost My Job and It Might Be the Best Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

Two years ago I was celebrating leaving my job of nearly nine years at a nonprofit publishing house and finally going corporate. I was riding high and making more money at a large, for-profit publishing house, working remotely full-time and generally kicking ass. It was the shit.

Aaaaand then I lost my job.

Sad trombone.

Kitty dropped the news during our coronavirus article blitz. And I’m honestly glad she did, because it saved me the struggle of deciding to pull the trigger on telling you all. For some reason I’ve been too… ashamed? Embarrassed? Afraid? Feeling hypocritical? Emotionally stunted???

There’s a reason it’s taken me a few months to write this article, even if I don’t yet understand what that reason is. Clearly I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to process about getting laid off. So let’s get with the processing.

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Your table needs bread, and modesty is the least filling carbohydrate.

How to Frame Volunteering on Your Resume When You’ve Never Had a Job

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: the hardest job to get is your first one. Or at least, the first one that’s in your chosen field and not, you know, corn detasseling for Moon Pie money. Everybody who grew up in a flyover state say heyyyyy!

See, when you’ve never had a job before…

  • Your resume is as short as a sneeze.
  • You don’t have professional connections to turn to for help or advice, like mentors and old coworkers.
  • True entry level jobs are rarer than they used to be.
  • You don’t have much practice at the basic skills you need to get any job, like nailing an interview and writing great cover letters.
  • You have even less experience with next-level skills you need to get a great job, like learning how to understand your company or industry’s most pressing needs and position yourself with strategic accordance.

(Mmm, you know it’s going to be a good day when you’re an ENTJ and you get to use the phrase “position yourself with strategic accordance” before noon.)

Unfortunately, when unemployment is high, it all gets even harder. Because now you’re competing with a lot more people—and they likely have some of the advantages you lack.

We feel for anyone with a thin job history who’s stuck competing in a tough job market with wicked high unemployment. Y’all are skipping the Hunger Games and going straight to the Quarter Quell: head-to-head, not against other frightened children, but bloodthirsty professional-ass adults. So in the near future, we’ll be discussing lots of strategies that can help mitigate the shittiness.

Today, we’ll discuss how to use past volunteering to make your resume shine! Let’s get into it!

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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of income tax, you shall fear no audits.

How to File Your Taxes FOR FREE: Simple Instructions for the Stressed-Out Taxpayer

Listen up, babies. We’ve been dancing around the issue of taxes for a while now, and it’s time we got to it. Yes, we’ve explained the importance of taxes as a fee for membership in civilization. We’ve told you why you should file your taxes ASAP. And we’ve even told you about that time I got audited!

It’s time to face the beast head-on. It is our sacred duty, as your duly appointed Bitches, to take you through this unpleasantness step by step.

Yea, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of income tax, you shall fear no audits; for We art with you; Our gifs and Our snark they comfort you.

-The Book of the Bitches, 3:7-9
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Ask the Bitches: How Can I Survive in an Apartment with No Heat?

Today I’m answering a timely question from one of our Tumblr followers. Takeittothestarss asks…

“Hi bitches! I hope you’re well and that you can help me (in that order). I’ve recently moved out of my parent’s house into an apartment with a couple housemates. Our building is old and not well insulated. It also doesn’t have A/C or heating, so right now it’s cold as balls. I’m wearing 5 sweaters and a blanket and I’m still cold. How do I warm this space up? I can’t make any modifications to it bc it’s a rental and we’re college students in very expensive city, so the less $ the better. Thanks!”

Ah. Heat. Like hope, it leaves the world sometimes, and we’re all worse off for it. But this is a modern late-stage-capitalist twist on a classic tenet of life on the cheap.

If there’s a Ten Commandments of Frugal Living, the first three are probably…

  1. Thou shalt not drinketh the fruit of the latte.
  2. Thou shalt cut thine cable.
  3. Thou shalt put on a goddamn sweater.

This coincides with the first two of the Ten Commandments of Being Dad…

  1. Thou shalt not touch the thermostat.
  2. Nay, seriously, thou shalt not fucking touch it.

I live in New England, which is about as cold and dark as Hell itself. Even now, several feet of snow are pouring down around me. Even worse, I live in an old house that’s still heated by oil.

Each fill-up is about $500.

Give me something for the pain and let me die.

Like most frugal New Englanders, I have shivered my way through many a cold winter day, trying to save a few ha’pennies to buy my husband the new watch chain he so richly deserves. So I’m going to tell you what I know about staying warm. 

Keep in mind that, thanks to our Patreon donors, we don’t need to stoop to spon-con. All the product recommendations in this article come straight from the heart!

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Season 1, Episode 5: “I Don’t Love My Job, but It Pays Well. Should I Quit—or Tough It Out?”



Today’s podcast question comes to us from Patreon donor Rachel. She’s in a good situation overall: stable, paying down debt quickly, and gainfully employed as an engineer.

But her feelings about engineering overall are, mmm… tepid.

Shall we slap her for even considering leaving a lucrative and in-demand field? Or shall we kiss her on both cheeks and push her off the gravy train? You’ll have to listen to find out!

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