Minors give you the freedom to tailor your education and market yourself for the career you want. I know that many students go with one that complements their majors (like a major in MechE and a minor in Product Realization) or narrows down a broader field (like a major in ChE and a minor in BME). But, choosing a minor that’s a little outside your major can help you stand out from other candidates, because you have something different to offer an employer. Here’re some of the best non-STEM minors for your STEM major:
Engineers with great, new ideas are the next innovators. A familiarity in innovative thinking, management, and planning can jumpstart your progress as a future Fortune 500 CEO by giving you some of the managerial skills you probably won’t learn in your STEM classes.
2. A foreign language
Knowledge of foreign languages like Spanish, German, Arabic and Japanese can give engineers the opportunity to travel internationally for projects and research. Engineering is a highly collaborative field–many of today’s technical companies are multinational and have plants all over the world.
Less than 1% of adults are proficient in the language they studied in school; gaining at least a conversational proficiency could open up career doors simply because of that skill (“America’s Lacking Language Skills”).
Many engineers admit that writing feels unnatural to them. For example, most of my friends feel more comfortable running an experiment than drafting a report of it. Being able to express your ideas and findings in words is an insanely valuable skill that you can take advantage of in engineering. It makes you more autonomous, because you don’t have to rely on someone else to communicate for you, and it makes you an asset in a group of engineers who hated English class.
A background in business can put you on the fast-track to engineering management. While it doesn’t help as much as an MBA might, it can direct you more into project management as opposed to design.
This is an interesting combination–philosophy and engineering–you wouldn’t think that they’d complement each other well, would you? But here’s the thing: studying ethics says the most about personal character out of all of the minors here. It shows that you’re concerned with which decisions are morally right and wrong, not just which will make you the most money. Studying ethics shows that you’re a deep thinker and might have leadership potential; I mean, you’re thinking about whether a decision is moral or not–that’s something that many employees would just glaze over.