As an English Creative Writing major, I often get a look of disappointment among family and friends when asked what I am studying at the University of Arkansas. “What are you going to do with that? Teach?” is the usual follow-up question. Another popular one is “So you gonna write a novel?” This is the type of questioning that books like You Majored in WHAT?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career by Katharine Brooks and Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career by Sheila J. Curran and Suzanne Greenwald were written because of.
I recently read an article titled “10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless” bu Jack Linshi. This article highlighted the major contradictions to the popular belief that Liberal Arts majors end up as medium grade paid teachers. The article focuses on major business CEO’s whom too have a degree in the humanities. Two that stood out to me as an English major was Michael Eisner who is the former CEO of Disney, the other is Jack Ma, an Alibaba Chairman who after graduating with an English degree faced 30 different job rejections, including one at Kentucky Fried Chicken, before finally landing a teaching job where his work ethic caught the eye of entrepreneurs. Career paths are rarely if ever linear, but rather a good portion of luck, and effort.
In Katherine Brooks book You Majored in What? the author uses several hands-on activities to help further the development of career assessment. I found this personally a lot more helpful as rummaging through the heaps of knowledge, interests, emotions, and experiences in my mind on my own time was best done through self reflection. This kind of discovery can’t really be done through linear and logic-based questions one finds on a career assessment test. These career assessment tests usually ask you the greater of two evils, or two goods. I found it more damaging than helpful having to decide whether I like to “help people” or “create things” more. Can’t it be both?. My mind never has nor never will work that way. Through Brook’s book I found the “wandering map” full of discovery.
Until I put pen, or sometimes Crayon or marker, to paper, I had completely forgotten about my passion for film criticism. As I search for an occupation in which to interview someone, I neglected to remember the days as a kid studying Roger Ebert on the T.V. giving one or two thumbs up, or sometimes no thumbs at all. This now being a pursuit I am currently attempting.
Another Job aspiration I came to during this “wandering map” exercise was script-writing for the WWE, the World Wrestling Entertainment. Yes, professional wrestling. While I am an actual wrestler, who finds the connections of professional wrestling to what I have done on the national level and coach daily insulting. That doesn’t take away from my childhood fondness of the characters defying gravity off the top turnbuckles. When certain interests were in front of me, like writing, wrestling, a past WWE obsession, and fiction writing it was easy to draw the lines metaphorically and literally. It truly is “Athletic Theater” and I love both athletics and theater.
Lastly, a job, rather a passion that could be turned into an occupation is my increased loved for comedy. Since the third grade I have wanted to become a writer. However, this wasn’t my first aspiration for the work force. My father use to recall myself as a child telling family and friends how I wanted to be a “stand-up chameleon” as I was too young even then to pronounce “comedian” properly. This has grown into more of an interest as the world has beaten such dreams and hopes down. Lately I have discovered that the hours I spend “studying” Seinfeld or critiquing the latest Stand-up Special of a new comic could not only be a past-time but a vocation.
These books and articles mentioned have helped show that a career path is rarely, if ever linear. One doesn’t have to go to school for A and become B and eventually do C. The whole alphabet can be reached, in this metaphor, before finally landing in something one could see themselves doing forever. Time to sit back, and breathe. The words will come, the jokes will come, stay committed and vigilant and who knows what can happen. That’s my newest philosophy anyway.
Brooks, Katharine. You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career. New York, NY: Viking, 2009.
Linshi, Jack. “10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless.” Time. Time, 23 July 2015. Web.
Curran, Sheila J., and Suzanne Greenwald. Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Graduates: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 2006. Print.