What’s the Point of a Professionalization Course?

Expectations vs. Experience

I took this course because I thought it would force me to create time to search and prepare for jobs and think deeply about the job hunting process. While job training courses like the one I signed up for probably can be the perfect venue for this and there were elements of this in my experience, it was mostly just a weekly reminder that graduation was coming, my student loan money was running out, and the financial pressure was about to actually be on. To be clear, this wasn’t due to any fault of my professor or any deficiency of the course itself, this is just the type of person I am. Even without this course it would have been difficult to focus on this semester’s work what with the ‘real’ world looming, but for whatever reason this course seemed to make my tendency toward distraction even worse. I would advise any readers considering taking this course or ones like it to do so before their last semester if possible, particularly if you are dealing with anxiety or depression. While I definitely feel better equipped for the job search process than I did before this course (I have a master résumé, several specialized cover letters, prewritten answers to commonly asked interview questions, and a greater understanding of the requirements of all of those), it was also a constant source of stress and anxiety in my life. The assignments were not particularly difficult, but it became tempting to throw myself into job searching and targeted résumé writing rabbit holes and ignore my other coursework. It is important to remember that delaying graduation will affect your employability. If you are anything like me it might be easier to throw yourself into your final semester and attempt to forget the ‘real world’ so that you can, you know, graduate. You can always go to career fairs and consult your career services center afterward.

Takeaways

If you choose to go ahead, whether you are an unanxious person or you planned your courses better than I did, then here is what you can hope to take out of this kind of course. It was incredibly helpful for me to talk with my professor and a representative from the career services center on campus about my résumés, cover letters, and interview question responses. There’s something inherently reassuring about having someone who you know is knowledgeable, but who wants to be helpful in their critique, look at your work. In the end it helped remove a bit of the anxiety from the interview process.  When I was contacted about an actual job I found myself being less nervous and sounding more coherent than I had three years previously when the pressure to find employment was much lower, which was unintuitive but encouraging. There’s nothing that brings more confidence than preparation. One of the best things about this course was it forced me to think about responses to five of the most common interview questions (the dreaded tell me about yourself, why do you want to work for us/want this job, what is your biggest strength, what is your biggest weakness, and tell me about a time you solved a problem), so that I wouldn’t break down when I was inevitably asked to answer them when my answers could result in a job, or not.

Future Integration and Benefits

Humanities curriculums should definitely include more professional training, particularly early on in student careers. We all face those annoying “So, what’re you going to do with that degree, teach?” snarky questions, and it would be great to have equally snarky answers. Also, it’s nice to know what you’re going to do for personal psychological reasons. It always helps to be prepared and if done correctly job training courses will only benefit humanities students. While we are trained to communicate our ideas effectively, it can be difficult to shift focus from academic to professional work (even professional academic work) without discussing the intricacies of those shifts with people who are more experienced. Ultimately talking with professionals about how to best professionalize the work you’re already doing can only be beneficial and career oriented coursework will add legitimacy to humanities studies (at least to outsiders and detractors who don’t already understand the benefits of a humanities degree).

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