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Career Possibilities for Liberal Arts Majors: Broader Than You Think

By Woody Hancock: C2C Managing Director- New York Operations

Almost every day we come across an article or blog post that aims to help college students by listing the majors that lead to the highest paying jobs.  Inevitably the list includes only those that are business, technical or science-related, and the article expresses the narrow but understandable point of view that college is primarily a form of capital investment requiring a quantifiable return up front.  Then there are the students who have chosen Liberal Arts majors.  They’ve all heard “What are you going to do with that?” from their friends.  Their parents are often concerned too, since current popular opinion has it that a Liberal Arts major is a one-way ticket to the poorhouse amid a mountain of student debt; that’s reinforced by a continuing stream of statistics showing that a seemingly ever-diminishing number of businesses want to hire Liberal Arts majors.

At Campus2Career, we often get calls from anxious parents concerned about the putatively dismal career prospects of their Liberal Arts major offspring.  We tell them not to worry.  We’ve read all those articles too, and we think Liberal Arts majors are very well suited for today’s job market.  Of course, many teachers and social workers were Liberal Arts majors, but so were many successful business people, educators, journalists, military personnel, sales people, politicians, and much else besides.  Articles and statistics aside, more and more employers are recognizing that while technical skills can be readily taught, the many skills Liberal Arts majors have acquired are difficult to find and far harder to teach.

Let’s take a look at some of them.  Liberal Arts majors have been broadly educated, which sharpens their awareness of art, history, philosophy, politics and technology.  They’ve learned how to think critically and because they are comfortable with ambiguity, know how to effectively present arguments in situations where the consequences are difficult to quantify.  They are also good at writing and researching.  Their studies across different disciplines also give them a sense of the outside factors that can impact an organization.

Unlike their more specifically educated counterparts, Liberal Arts majors face few specific limitations as to where they can focus their careers, especially over the longer term.  It may take longer for them to find a job initially because they have to spend some time learning how to identify their strengths and market their broad knowledge, but they have many alternatives.

Consider just one example, which is how well they can do in a client-facing role.  Not only will they be able to understand the client’s business, but they will also have a prior sense of the factors that have impacted that business.  Such broad-based knowledge can go a long way towards building a business relationship.

So, Liberal Arts majors (and parents), don’t despair.  You may have to work a little harder at first, but you have a lot to choose from and you always will.

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About the Author

Campus2Career is the premier one-on-one career counseling firm. The mission remains steady: to assist college students, recent college graduates, and young professionals with the identification and launch of the right career.

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