We’ve all felt and heard the judgment. ‘You’re a liberal arts major? So, you plan on being a teacher.’ Even though, for some, the thought of teaching screaming five-year olds or moody fifteen-year olds sends us running away in fear. For others, that might seem like a dream come true, but most of us have just thought of it as a default. Well, guess what? Certain tools can be used to understand yourself and what you can do with your life. This isn’t engineering. There aren’t a strict set of courses to follow and then become exactly what the major is.
Liberal arts degrees aren’t just throw away degrees. In “Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors” by Blythe Camenson, there are six chosen general career paths: Teaching, Corporate Communications, Media, Advertising/Marketing/Sales, Helping Professions, and Law. Take out the teaching section and that leaves five different types of careers for liberal arts majors in this book alone. In an article on the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), they looked at the differences in jobs that Professional majors and liberal arts majors had after graduation. Go to your LinkedIn account, look at all the different jobs that the alumni of your school. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account get one, most major companies utilize this to find employees. In another article for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, they looked at the long-term success of liberal art majors compared to professional majors.
“Warren felt like just one more federal employee in the nation’s capital. Increasingly, he found his mind drifting to his growing passion.
A business trip to Los Angeles to take statements from witnesses became more of an occasion to take his colleagues to a hot new cake shop called Sweet Lady Jane.” (Curran 193)
In the book, “Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads” by Sheila J. Curran and Suzanne Greenwald, Warren went to law and became something better. His grades suffered in law school, and he didn’t care for the job that he had for the government. He decides to throw all doubts to the wind and dive head first into an exciting and daring career. He decided to become a chef and start his own business. Others thought it was a foolish idea, and that he should go for a more stable job, but he came out on top. The catch? His undergraduate degree was History. If you’ve got the right stuff, and the right circumstances, you might just make it. Now, I’m not saying that everyone that does this will be featured on the Oprah show, but there is always a possibility.
Okay maybe not to the Oprah show since it’s canceled, but maybe the Ellen Degeneres Show?
The first thing to do before picking a random career path or even deciding what courses to take for academics, is to understand who you really are. For example: someone who would rather follow and is great at following wouldn’t do as well in a management position as someone who is good at leading. Warren wouldn’t have made a good entrepreneur if he didn’t have some leadership strengths under his belt. There’s a Careershifter article that has multiple sites that might help someone find their way in the business world. StrengthsQuest is also a great way to find your strengths. For my assessment, I had gotten Strategic, Input, Maximizer, Empathy, and Ideation. I think things through carefully, curious, perfectionist, understanding, and love ideas. TypeFocus is another good way to understand yourself. I had Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving. TypeFocus even gives you a list of good career choices for you, but it’s not like you have to chose one of those choices.
Don’t go in there thinking that you need a ‘perfect score’ or wondering how others would want you to answer that question. Go in there and click on the answer that makes you feel like you. Don’t like being around people? Click that option. LOVE being around people? Click that one. There’s no wrong answer. It’s YOU. You’re answering questions on how to uncover how you think. Who you are. Isn’t that awesome? It’s not graded! No one is judging you! It’s not that scary homework that you worked so hard on only to find out you got a C instead of the A you were hoping for.
A good way to flesh out all of your desires for careers is using a web. You remember those webs in English class used for brainstorming? Those are the ones. In the book, “You Majored in What?” by Katharine Brooks, it discusses the pros of using one of these webs for career searches. Get a big sheet of paper, and write everything you’ve done on it. I dare you. Go on. All of your hobbies and jobs, even your trips to Europe or Mexico. Did you ever sit in on local government council meetings? One woman did as a girl in “Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads.” Put that down. Take a course that you really enjoyed? Write it down! Make it messy or neat, and connect the dots. Which of these things go together? Can you make a career out of it?
So I’ve got one word for you, excited. I’m excited to have my liberal art degree, and I can’t wait to find out what jobs are waiting for me.
Brooks, Katharine. You Majored in What?: Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career.New York,
NY: Viking, 2009. Print.
Camenson, Blythe. Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.
Curran, Sheila J., and Suzanne Greenwald. Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path
to Your Perfect Career. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 2006. Print.