Your Degree, Your Power.

 

When we talk about liberal arts we almost always land on the topic of sharing our chosen major with the world. What I think we don’t look at enough is how we answer the well-intentioned, but slightly obnoxious questions about our future plans. For me, most of my answers were outright lies.

Liberal arts majors are ready for these questions. Society has told us our choice is risky, and if we don’t have a straight line plan to a career people will feel compelled to give out “advice”. No offense to your well-meaning aunt… but this advice is rarely based on workforce knowledge.

Everyone thirty and over has seen the effects of the last recession, and they do not want that to affect you. So they tell you to pick something stable like business or engineering. When in reality your English degree can open more doors… if you know how to use it.

I didn’t know how I was going to use my English degree when I started college, so my response to the “What are you going to do, teach?” question changed…often. I’ve gone from grant writing to media marketing, editor to librarian, but I never really talked about my first choice…writing. Because then you really get people nervous… and I was nervous too. No one took my passion seriously and said, “Let me help you with that.”power-of-liberal-arts

Which is why the course attached to this blog was such a welcome resource. I had no idea so many options lay in front of me. I thought that at the very least I would have a résumé all ready and waiting for graduation. I didn’t expect to walk away with real insight into tailoring my job experience to fit specific applications, as well as a confidence that I not only will find a career to go along with my degree… I might find a few. That was probably the biggest take-away… I don’t have to find the one career that works with my degree. I don’t have to stay tied to the first career I pick.

All of this insight has given me a much more positive and informed view of my degree. The practical advice about career preparedness is something I should have been more aware of before my last semester at school… That is probably the biggest reason I feel that courses like this one are vital to anyone unsure about the steps to take in preparation for their post- graduation job hunt.

Here is where society has let us down! By brushing off our degrees as “useless” they have left us in the dark on common practices for translating our degree to the job market. In case you haven’t been given an opportunity to look at ways to prepare for life after graduation let me share the top tips I learned through this course.

  1. Internship or Apprenticeship. A great way to improve your skill set and build resume content.
  2. Network…before you need to. Making connections through classmates, volunteering, or campus association participation will give you a great starting point to build your network.
  3. Self-Assessment. By far the most important. Whether you need to clarify your direction for yourself or to create a branding statement, self-assessment is vital to finding jobs that are fulfilling.
  4. Informational Interviews. A totally legit way to pick the brains of people doing what you want to do.

While I’m not exactly looking forward to the MANY interviews that lie ahead I fill so much more confident about tackling them. I could go on and on about the tips and tricks that I gathered through this course, but it boils down to how the information was presented and the in class practice, those things made me more self-aware and self-assured. Correcting years of thinking my degree might be “useless” (and by that I mean, I worried about finding a job) didn’t take a complete overhaul. All it took was a teacher willing to look at me as more than a vessel to impart knowledge, but also a participant in sharing knowledge with society as a whole. Because that’s really what matters. We want to have a place in the world, a way to leave our mark.

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