I feel as though I entered the course, “Liberal Arts at Work: A Professionalization Workshop,” with a slightly different mindset than most of my peers. After deciding that I did not want to be a teacher after all and dropping out of the pre-MAT program, I had basically come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I still get THE QUESTION from friends and family (and acquaintances and strangers): “What are you going to do with that?” The difference is that now when I say “I don’t know” in response, the sudden panic that used to rise in my chest is diminished. Also, I am not frantically searching for something to do post-graduation because I am lucky enough to have a full-time job lined up at the bank I’ve been working at part-time for the last 3 years. I would, however, like to find a career that I am passionate about, that closely relates to my interests, and that would give me something specific to work towards. For now, I am comfortable being unsure, but I know I won’t always be.
Much of the reading for this course has been very broad and I’ve had to dig really deep to find information that I feel directly relates to my interests. Many of the career paths addressed in Blythe Camenson’s Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors were not things I would be interested in pursuing further. The two paths that I did take an interest in were Media and Advertising, Marketing, and Sales. Both of these paths seem to have a wide variety of career options that could be engaging and fulfilling. When I first transferred to the University of Arkansas, I majored in Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. However, the major seemed too specific and I was even then very unsure of what I wanted to do, so after a year off I returned to the English major.
Similarly, many of the stories in Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Majors seemed irrelevant to me personally, and I found myself wondering how realistic of an example these stories were. Despite my pessimism, I did come to one significant realization while reading this book, specifically Todd’s story. A quote from his section reads “Sometimes, when you take something you love and turn it into a job, it doesn’t always stay what you love anymore” (184). This really hit home for me. I’d always wanted to major in English and pursue a career related to literature because it was something I loved, but even pursuing an English degree has challenged my love for literature. This quote from Todd solidified the idea that I did not want to make this thing I love my career. Sometimes, work and pleasure don’t need to be one and the same.
One of my favorite things addressed in the readings we’ve done so far is the “wandering map” in Katharine Brooks’ You Majored in What. Honestly, I put it off at first, just wanting to get through the reading. However, I did come back to it and I was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered. Three of the main threads I noticed involved loved ones, volunteerism, and media involvement. I found it humorous that one of the first things I put on my list was the name of my cat. In all seriousness though, I discovered that while I generally consider myself introverted and private, I am very passionate and driven when it comes to things that are very important to me. For example, I am a cancer survivor, and that experience has given me the opportunity to promote and volunteer for organizations that helped me through my illness. I have given speeches in front of large audiences, acted as spokesperson in print and television stories, and even starred in a commercial. These are not things that I would normally do for just any reason. My wandering map revealed to me that, due to my experience, I have a passion for promoting and drawing support for organizations that do good for others. This makes me think I should perhaps revisit my interest in public relations or explore other options in media and advertising. I think I could really enjoy working for nonprofits or care organizations.
I still am not sure what I want to do long-term, and I am still okay with not knowing for now. One of the most comforting things about this class is the reassurance that there are options. I am not limited to teaching, or writing, or editing. I am learning that my skills have value in a multitude of applications, and I am thankful that this class gives me an opportunity to explore my options.