Posted by Anne Lapour, Career Counselor

booksAre you a liberal arts major?  Do you take joy in the beauty of a classic novel, love a good historical drama, or perk up at the thought of your Abnormal Psychology class?  If so, you’ve probably heard the following question at least once (if not 100) times…

So what are you going to do with a major in ______? (Insert major)

Now, if you’re anything like many of liberal arts students who make their way to Career Services, you haven’t quite figured out the answer to that question.  (And that’s entirely okay, by the way.)  There are very legit reasons for this.  Perhaps you’re multitalented and can therefore envision yourself in multiple work settings.  Perhaps you’re simply not sure what the options are for someone with your degree.  Perhaps you’ve been told that all you can do with an English major is teach.  Well, I have good news…

A Liberal Arts major is one of the most flexible, adaptable, well-rounded degrees you can earn.

It’s true.  Liberal Arts majors are masters of communication, analytical reasoning, identifying patterns and themes, brainstorming ideas, and solving interpersonal problems.  These are the skills you gain from completing a group presentation on Shakespearean sonnets.  And they also just happen to be useful in the world of business.

Business expert (and former English major) Susan de la Vergne states:  “[Businesses] need leaders who understand where people ‘are coming from,’ who can communicate vision and direction, who demonstrate adaptability and political awareness.  They want leaders who are willing to slog through difficulty and navigate ethical complexity.”  And she says businesses should look no further than a Humanities Department, or a College of Liberal Arts.

So, you might be thinking “Great, perhaps I am employable…now how do I convince others?”  Here’s the thing:  YOU need to believe it, in order to make EMPLOYERS believe it. That’s right—you need to perceive and tout your liberal arts degree for everything it is (challenging, useful, transferable), instead of doubting it for everything it’s not (engineering). 

Are you ready to branch out?  To look beyond the classroom for ways to use those transferable skills you’ve honed in your European History classes?  Here’s how you can a) convince yourself of all those transferable skills, and then b) articulate those skills to potential employers:

1. Visit Career Services: We’ll help you revise and craft your resumes and cover letters to better communicate the ways you can contribute to today’s world of business (or non-profit organizations).  Make an appointment with a career counselor by calling 541-737-0529.

2. Gain Experience:
If you can build your repertoire of work and/or professional experiences (volunteer opportunities, internships, etc), you’ll begin to see first-hand how you might utilize your liberal arts degree in a work environment.

3.  Check out the resources: The following blogs have excellent information for liberal arts students…
The Liberal Arts Advantage—For Business (For example, see this post on crafting your “elevator pitch” to a potential employer.)
For English Majors

4.  Know Yourself: Spend some time getting to know your unique strengths.  You never know when the professional opportunity you’ve been seeking will arise.  Be ready.

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