Do people ever ask you, “What are you going to do with a liberal arts degree?” I was a communication major and got that question all the time. While this may seem like an annoying question, it does provide you with the opportunity to practice articulating why your degree is valuable.
Phil Gardner of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute annually surveys employers to assess their hiring projections. He also asks employers what skills they seek in candidates. Can you guess what one of the top skills is?
Flexibility. Yes, flexibility. Dr. Gardner states that “employers seek candidates across all majors who can slide into a variety of positions as needed or adapt quickly to changing conditions.”
Sound like you?
Have you had to change directions and focus on something else when working on a group project? When working in your student staff position on campus, have you had to drop what you were working on and pick up something else? Do you characterize yourself as a “go with it” kind of person? If so, that’s flexibility.
Here are some other skills employers mention as important:
- Learning and applying knowledge from experiences
- Identifying new problems and creating solutions
- Communicating information in a clear and concise way
- Developing and maintaining professional networks
Your liberal arts education helps you become a critical thinker who gains knowledge, identifies problems, suggests solutions, communicates, and connects. Have you read the college Mission Statement recently? Your Puget Sound degree affirms your immersion in a learning environment that develops those skills.
In short, you’re developing the skills and competencies employers seek for meeting their ever-evolving needs. Couple that with your co-curricular experience (part-time job or internship, involvement in student organizations, volunteer work, etc.), and you’re poised to be a prime candidate for employers when positions open in their organizations.
Take a step: Visit the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network to see what Puget Sound alumni have done with their liberal arts degrees. You can search by major, employer, graduation year, and much more.
And another step: Attend ASK Night and begin to develop and maintain your professional network among a group of liberal arts graduates. This is an opportunity for you to connect with people with whom you have a common element—your Puget Sound experience (which makes for an easy conversation-starter). Check out the alumni who are registered to attend, read tips for making the most of ASK Night.
At ASK Night, you’ll be able to connect with Puget Sound graduates who answered that age-old question “What are you going to do with a liberal arts degree?” and you can hear from them exactly what they are doing and why it’s valuable.
© 2010 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound