TV Show the Inspiration for Engaging Providence College Major-Selection Program

June 10, 2024 | By Kevin Gray

Majors & Careers
NACE Award winners: Providence College

TAGS: alumni, best practices, career development, nace award winner, nace insights,

Providence College’s Chirico Career Center has created and honed an event that mimicked the TV show “The Masked Singer” to deliver an engaging program designed to help students as they consider their majors and explore potential careers.

“The Masked Major 2”—held in January 2024—addressed the unique challenges faced by first-year and sophomore students in major selection while debunking the myth that a major defines a career.



NACE AWARD WINNER
The small college winner of the 2024 NACE Award for Career Services Excellence, Providence College’s Chirico Career Center has created and honed an engaging program designed to help students as they consider their majors and explore potential careers. For more information about the NACE Awards program, see www.naceweb.org/about-us/nace-awards/.

Chirico Career Center enlisted Providence alumni from different industries and with different majors to share details about their career and answer questions about their educational experiences.

“There is a prevailing misconception that the undergraduate major must directly correlate with the student’s eventual career path,” says Stacey Moulton, the Chirico Career Center’s senior associate director of communications and operations.

“Despite existing resources like Focus2 and our annual Major/Minor Fair, we saw the need for a more engaging program. We created an interactive event that goes beyond traditional approaches, while collaborating with academic advisers to support both declared and undeclared students. Our goal is to help students explore interests, understand various career paths, and make informed decisions about their academic and professional journeys.”

Moulton explains that the goal of “The Masked Major” is not to tell students that their major can lead to many different career paths, it is to bring alumni back to campus to demonstrate this fact. This was achieved by inviting those whose careers and majors don’t match to participate.

For example, alum participants included a French major who is now a commercial real estate adviser, a history and biology double major who is now an assistant esports director at a college, and a psychology major who is now a human resources director.

The event kicked off with each alumnus revealing their organization, explaining their role, and providing information about their career, classes, clubs, internships, and other experiences during brief introductions.

The 29 students who participated then had five minutes to use their detective skills by asking questions to unravel the hidden majors. The intrigue heightened as participants listened to answers, hoping to decipher the major behind the careers.

Student participation was an element that was crucial to the success of “The Masked Major 2.” Feedback from the inaugural event—during which students did not ask questions—indicated that students wanted to ask questions and be active in the game. For the 2024 iteration, the Chirico Career Center opened the floor to the students.

“We were not disappointed; students did immediately begin to ask questions without any staff encouragement,” Moulton notes.

“Students competing were vocal and playful. The alums enjoyed seeing what students thought their major was and that it was often guessed wrong.”

Following the clue-filled revelations by alumni, students formed pairs to compete in a Kahoot challenge.

“Armed with their newfound insights, they aimed to make the most accurate guesses regarding the masked majors. The stakes were high as the winning pair was crowned the Masked Major Champs, earning not only bragging rights but also a $100 gift card each,” Moulton says.

The primary benefit for all student participants, however, was the insight they gained. During post-game follow-up discussion, alumni shared examples and advice to help students make informed decisions regarding major choice. Among the advice they offered was that:

  • There really isn't one “right” direction or path to choose;
  • Finding your career path doesn't always come from the classroom; it can come from clubs and organizations, volunteer work, or another experience or avenue; and
  • Finding out what you do not want to do is as important as finding out what you want to do.

Evaluations revealed that students found the game fun to play and helpful. They especially liked the structure of the game and found the range of majors and careers both valuable and fascinating.

According to Moulton, The most impactful outcomes of “The Masked Major 2” were that it:

  • Provided students with exposure to diverse career paths by learning about various alumni careers that were not necessarily directly connected with their majors, challenging the notion of a linear connection between major and career;
  • Engaged the student audience by having them ask questions to help “unmask” the majors; and
  • Helped students realize they can choose majors that align with their interests without “fear of failure” that they are picking the “wrong” one.

After hearing how valuable this event was to the students who participated, the Chirico Career Center is encouraged to host a third “season” of “The Masked Major” in 2025.

“We feel this event is important to run again because it allowed us to see how it contributed to the holistic development and decision-making capabilities of first-year and sophomore students, fostering a positive and informed approach to major selection,” Moulton says.

blank default headshot of a user Kevin Gray is an associate editor at NACE. He can be reached at kgray@naceweb.org.

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