I am a product of a liberal arts education. The education itself was fantastic. From a life enhancing perspective, I benefitted immeasurably. For my very unusual career as a lawyer turned education entrepreneur, the education also provided outstanding training because my work involves communicating abstract concepts, something that a liberal arts education provides perfectly. When I was an undergraduate, however, I knew I would be heading to law school. I did not have to worry about getting a job after graduation. Moreover, it was 1989 and the work world was very different.
Recently, I had a meeting with a lovely young lady who graduated with a degree literally in “liberal arts”. Her concentration was philosophy. The school she attended was so obscure that even someone steeped in all things college due to my work running The Learning Consultants, had never heard of it. Her cumulative GPA was under 3.0. She had no internships or work experience in anything related to a marketable skill.
She wanted to find a “meaningful job” in Connecticut. She meant some type of job that would build her career. This excluded dead end white collar jobs. She also had a distaste for and a personality ill suited for sales. I tried to be gentle in giving her advice because it occurred to me that no adult had given her any meaningful career direction.
Jobs for majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) abound, particularly if all health care jobs can be placed within science and all financially related jobs can be placed under math. Jobs for business majors are there as well be it for marketing, sales, or operations.
I should add that there are also jobs for those of any major who have internships/work experience during college in a particular area.
Otherwise, most organizations – particularly in the private sector – seek out what NFL general managers call “the best available athlete.” For recent graduates, those who have an impressive undergraduate record (prestigious school/high GPA/other accomplishments related to activities) fall into this category. The Harvard English major with a 4.0 who was also the leader of a large club and a Rhodes Scholar finalist might be at the pinnacle of this group. The very nice young lady in front of me was not at the bottom but was, nonetheless, low on the totem pole.
The news was not entirely grim. In later articles, I will post my advice for those in such situations. But, the unfortunate part was that no one had ever explained any of the above to her and I had to be the bearer of bad news. Not fun for me but even worse for her.