What can you do with a liberal arts degree? It’s a question many of us liberal arts majors must face. Some people worry that liberal arts degrees are useless in the professional world.
In reality, there are lots of liberal arts degree jobs out there. The challenge is finding the right one. Many of us with liberal arts degrees don’t have a ton of support in the transition from college to the professional world.
As an English literature major with a focus on gender studies, I felt lost at sea after graduation. I knew about the world of academia, but not how to use my English degree outside of a college campus.
Eventually, I did find lots of liberal arts degree jobs. Through this period of searching, I learned some valuable life lessons about graduating with a liberal arts degree. Read on to learn the top five.
What can you do with a liberal arts degree? Five life lessons
1. Do your research on jobs and careers
Students get their liberal arts degrees in a wide range of subjects, from literature to philosophy to art history. Most of these students don’t end up as writers, philosophers, or art historians. Their career path is less linear than say, a computer engineer’s.
Colleges don’t always give guidance on how to use your degree after graduation. If you’re a liberal arts student, it’s up to you to explore your options. Before graduation day, you should visit the career services office, do online research, and learn about potential careers.
In our rapidly changing professional landscape, you may discover jobs you didn’t even know existed. Through active research, you can discover lots of roles for people with liberal arts degrees in business, management, sales, marketing, design, education, and other areas. Plus, you’ll have a great answer when someone asks, what can you do with a liberal arts degree?
2. Identify your marketable skills
In college, I had a strong aversion to words like “marketable skills” and “networking.” This career-oriented mindset seemed opposed to the study of liberal arts. I wanted to learn about literature for its own sake, rather than use it to make money.
That idealistic mindset was all well and good until graduation rolled around! As it turns out, liberal arts education and employability are not at all opposed. On the contrary, finding a way to use your passion in your career is really empowering.
To do so, you must assess your strengths and identify your marketable skills. Liberal arts majors have many desirable skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, research, writing, collaboration, and relationship-building. To appeal to employers, you should present your skills on your resume. You should also be able to discuss them strategically during job interviews.
3. Feel liberated, not paralyzed, by all your options
The idea that employers don’t want graduates with liberal arts degrees is simply not true. There are lots of liberal arts degree jobs out there in a wide range of industries. Sometimes, though, having too many options is a problem.
As a liberal arts major, I was encouraged to explore and be curious. I studied an array of ideas and learned to cross-pollinate between diverse disciplines. When it came to narrowing down my pursuits, it was extremely difficult to choose.
Looking back, I wish I had reframed my thinking in the years after graduation. Rather than feel paralyzed by indecision, I could have felt excited about all of the options at my fingertips. Besides, it’s not uncommon for people to change jobs nowadays.
According to a survey by LinkedIn, the average person has three to four job changes before the age of 32. Gone are the days when a graduate joined a company and stayed there for forty years. As long as you can handle your personal finances, you should give yourself permission to explore different career paths. That way, you’ll find one that’s the best fit (like these 10 liberal arts degree-holding CEOs).
4. Consider graduate school or a training program
After some time exploring, you might decide you need a specialized degree or certification. With a Master’s, you could gain the qualifications for a specific career path. A training program could ramp up your resume and appeal to employers.
Before deciding, it’s a good idea to consider the return on investment of the program. While undergraduate education can be more broad-based, graduate school should ideally advance your career. Before attending, pin down the tangible benefits of a graduate degree, like a higher salary or new job opportunities.
5. Find the balance between personal passion and employability
Many graduates with liberal arts degrees felt passionate about their subjects, whether it was literature, art history, or the social sciences. If that sounds like you, then you should seek a job that incorporates that passion.
If you’re excited about your work, you’re more likely to be successful. Chances are, you’re not going to accomplish very much in a job that makes you feel “meh.”
As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. And don’t settle.” Most successful people didn’t rise to the top of their fields doing something they found boring.
On the flip side, you can’t necessarily expect your job to fulfill all your personal passions. Consider this thought-provoking counterpoint to Jobs’s idea from author Miya Tokumitsu. She suggests that the “do what you love” mantra is a privileged point of view that most people can’t afford.
Tokumitsu says this mindset breaks down the barriers between work and leisure to the detriment of workers. You should do what interests you, but you should remember that work is still work, not a 24/7 love-fest. And you should be fairly compensated for your hard work, even if it’s in a field that you love.
Perhaps you can’t love what you do all the time, but you should find something that aligns with your interests. For me, I can’t expect to spend my days reading and talking about literature. But I can still bring my interests in writing, reading, and research into my career.
By finding a balance between your personal passions and professional development, you can make the most of your liberal arts degree. Even if it takes a few years to figure out how.
For more thoughts on the role passion plays in choosing a major, check out this intriguing article. If you’re curious about the return on investment of college degrees, head to this guide with seven high ROI majors.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.97%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.68% – 8.77%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.24% – 6.66%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.61% – 7.35%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.01% – 9.75%6||Undergrad & Graduate|