When I first saw that the Liberal Arts at Work course was being offered, I was instantly interested in what the course exactly entailed. I didn’t have a plan for post-graduation and lacked professional information about jobs regarding my English/Creative Writing major. Once I looked at the description of the course, I knew it was something that I wanted to take, something I needed to take. This was a course that was going to teach me skills that I could use for the rest of my professional career and I don’t regret taking it at all.
The Job Application Packet assignment, which is a primary focus of the class, helped me learn how to write professional documents and tailor them to specific companies. As a liberal arts degree candidate with job experience only in food service, I haven’t had much experience writing résumés or cover letters at all since the jobs I previously applied for weren’t competitive-type jobs. Also, I lacked any volunteer experience and extracurricular activites. With all this in mind, it was difficult for me to write a well-developed résumé. However, this course reshaped the way I looked at résumés. I learned how to use my unrelated food service experience to focus on certain skills that would be useful in a career choice I was actually interested in pursuing. I also learned how to use storytelling and eloquence effectively in cover letters in order to tailor to the company I’m communicating with while also expressing myself in the process. The Job Application Packet was one of many assignments that helped prepare me for post-graduation.
This course offers multiple unique assignments that give professional training to students. Résumé and cover letter workshops have taught me the craft of this type of writing and shown me what to look for in these type of documents by peer editing others’ résumés and cover letters. The Informational Interview assignment offers the opportunity to talk with a professional in your field of interest, a great opportunity to figure out whether or not the specified career path is right for you. Speech classes are offered at the university and help with public speaking tremendously, but the Mock Interview assignment in this course gives the student a more direct exposure to job interviews with questions that would be asked in a typical interview all while feeling the pressure in a setting that resembles a panel-style interview. Students even learn how to set-up a professional LinkedIn profile. Liberal Arts at Work is a gem among the ENGL courses offered and should be taken by any student in a liberal arts degree, regardless if they want a job exclusive to their major.
I believe that courses such as Liberal Arts at Work should be offered for liberal arts students to broaden views about the job market while also providing the professional training for the career path they ultimately choose to walk down. Although this course offers much advice and information about professionalism in liberal arts, it’s only in a broad sense. Rather than having only one class like this in the English department, I believe all departments should adapt a version of this course in order to provide a more concise and directed version for students who want more major-exclusive jobs.
By teaching this course along with a traditional humanities curriculum, I believe a student is provided more insight on how valuable that student’s degree really is. Humanities degree candidates are told all the time how their degree is useless and that they won’t get a job with it. That’s because those people only see it strictly from the academic perspective and not the professional perspective. A student being exposed to both academic and professional atmospheres allows that student to apply the skills he/she learned in class such as written and oral communication explicitly in a professional setting. For me, this course brought several skills to my attention that I wasn’t even aware I had. Tailoring job duties in résumés helped me realize what I actually do at my job and the skills that I’m developing through job experience. Both the professional training and humanities curriculum go hand-in-hand when cultivating student’s skills and preparing them for post-graduation.
Liberal Arts at Work has taught me an important lesson: your degree is useless unless you are making use of the skills that the program offers you. I became aware of that during writing workshops where I knew I had to put in the effort to produce better works. However, this course broadened everything about my major and what I can actually accomplish with it while also giving me writing experience with documents I will ultimately have to work on. Anyone who lacks any knowledge of professionalism and wants to find alternative career options rather than the linear career paths will not be disappointed from taking this course. I know I wasn’t.