Following a Divergent Path in a Linear World

Thus far in the semester, I have learned a lot about myself, my major, and the endless opportunities that I have to make a career for myself (and a career that I will enjoy!) I will be discussing how I am going against the linear approach to searching for a job, and what jobs appeal to me outside of the linear perspective.

“The lure of the linear path is powerful, it is embedded in our thinking (Brooks, 2.)” While doing the reading this week, this quote struck me. I realized that ever since I decided on becoming an English major, I believed that my job options were limited to teaching, publishing, or, teaching.  I had the notion of a linear path in my head. I believed that there had to be a direct correlation between my major and my job. But, as Brooks puts it, “…linear thinking can keep you from thinking broadly about your options and being open-minded to new opportunities (Brooks 4.)” Because I was so set on sticking to the linear path of an English major, I have missed out on many opportunities throughout college. I’ve dismissed internships and career possibilities simply because they weren’t ‘for me.’ I am at a point where I am trying to be open to opportunities that aren’t specifically for English majors. I am searching for my ‘butterfly effect.’ This butterfly effect is based on the notion that one small step (like talking to a professional in a certain field) can lead to more opportunities down the line for you, such as a career opportunity. In fact, “… almost 70 percent reported that their careers were significantly influenced by unplanned events – in other words, the butterfly effect (Krumboltz and Levin, 2004).” At this point I am sure that I have missed many butterfly moments, but I hope to begin embracing them.

After creating my wandering map that Brook’s book helps us with, I was greatly surprised as to what stood out about myself that I had never thought of before. Categories that were being formed from my map were ‘travel/outdoors’, ‘community/relationships’, and ‘social movements/social justice.’ From there I found a possible career opportunity: mission work related to my faith. I have a heart for missions, and serving others. However, I don’t think I would want to always be traveling, so I could work as a coordinator (since I also have strong attention to planning and detail.)

The second job opportunity that I began to consider was working as an international teacher. As long as I could settle in a certain area, I would not mind what country I would be in. It would truly be a joy to bring education to other parts of the world. I love the prospect of teaching because I would be building community with my students, and fellow teachers. I would be working in a field I am passionate about, and I would truly find joy in bringing knowledge to others.

The third and final job that I began to consider was being a coordinator for service opportunities in my church and planning out ways to impact the community. Like I previously mentioned, I have a deep faith and a deep love for people, so to provide love and outreach to my community alongside my church would be an amazing opportunity. I know that a lot of church leaders are volunteer, but I might stumble into some luck and find a paid position.

Many believe that a Liberal Arts degree is worthless, and that you need to find a major that leads to a linear career path. I disagree. I am an English major, and I have endless opportunities for career paths. According to a study done by The Association of American Colleges and Universities, hiring employers don’t care so much as to what your major was, compared to how you think and interact with others. “Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) say that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major (AACU).” On the Huffpost website, we can find a list of famous (and highly achieved) people who were Liberal Arts majors (and might I add, did not necessarily choose a linear career path.) The list includes (but is not limited to) Mitt Romney (English), Conan O’Brien (History and American Lit.), Carly Fiorina (Medieval History and Philosophy) and Steven Spielberg (English). All of these people found success under the guidance of a Liberal Arts degree. While we English majors won’t all be famous, the success of other Liberal Arts majors is encouraging.

To conclude, I believe that some of the best job opportunities for Liberal Arts majors are not always the linear options, they are the options found through the butterfly effect, and by having the confidence to reach out into a field that interests you, regardless of who this field is ‘traditionally’ meant for. If nothing else, take away from this post the incredible need to be open and flexible when it comes to your career. You might find your calling in a field that you had never considered. Be open, and always on the lookout.

 

Citations:

Brooks, Katharine. You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. New York, NY: Viking, 2009. Print.

Gregoire, Carolyn. “This Is Irrefutable Evidence Of The Value Of A Humanities Education.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/the-unusual-college-major_n_4654757.html&gt;.

“It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success: Overview and Key Findings.” Association of American Colleges & Universities. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. <http://www.aacu.org/leap/presidentstrust/compact/2013SurveySummary&gt;.

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