College Major? Minor Matter with Internships

One student of Finance and Asia asks…

How important is your major in securing an internship? I am currently a third year International (Asian) Studies student but am in the process of switching to Business (most likely Finance). I have taken all the prerequisites to declare the major but will not be able to officially change it on my transcript until around March. Would I be out of consideration for those types of internships because it isn’t technically my major yet?

The area of your college major affects your ability to get a specific internship just about as much as it affects your ability to get a specific job after college. That is, not very much.

So, the short answer to your question is: a lot of people wind up in jobs that don’t relate to their majors. Whatever your major is, it won’t have much effect on an employer’s decision to accept you into an internship program. Your interest and ability to show that you can add value to an employer’s work will have a much bigger effect on whether an employer decides to offer you an internship.

This leads to my longer answer…

My advice for thinking about your major, internship, and future career: do some thinking about what you want to be the best in the world at. Close some options. Make some decisions. Don’t be a generalist, be a specialist. Find a niche. Be specific. Are you going to become the world’s expert on finance as it relates to a specific area of a specific Asian country on Tuesdays when it rains? Are you going to be the world’s expert on how finance is communicated in a certain dialect of Mandarin?

Once you get specific, then dominate that niche. Make that your major, go to employers who do that work and tell them you’re going to be their intern, write about it, blog about it, get to know all the other people who work in that niche – build a career out of it. Make it something you love, make it something you’ll be happy doing for the long haul.

If you do, your major, internship, and career will be one that you love and get paid lots of money to do.


About the Author: Eric Woodard is the author of “Your Last Day of School: 56 Ways You Can Be A Great Intern and Turn Your Internship Into a Job” and founder of, a site that teaches students to be great interns and successful during internships. Eric created and managed internship programs for the White House and U.S. Senate. He’s also consulted with a variety of national non-profit clients to create and manage successful internship programs. Over the years Eric has received zillions of thank you notes from interns, and has kept every single one. Follow Eric on Twitter!



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