What can you do with a Liberal Arts Degree?
Do you want your four-year degree to contribute not only to your future economic well-being, but also to your personal growth and development? Do you value a rigorous and varied academic experience simply for knowledge’s sake? Do you want to emerge from your university experience with not only the soft skills to be an effective worker and employee, but also the aptitude of a leader? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, a degree in the Liberal Arts may be for you.
Taken from the Latin liberales artes, meaning “free” and “principled or practiced,” the liberal arts are not simply contained in the wistful memories of an outdated educational system nor in the aesthetic accoutrements of a post-modern romantic. But rather, by nature of their broad scope, they encompass a variety of fields, each with a unique set of skills that encompass critical thinking, examination of life, encounters with difference, and a free exchange of ideas—the pillars of a liberal arts education.
In a world driven by return on investment and the increasingly competitive nature of the job market, a prospective liberal arts student may have some questions regarding the ways in which their degree may relate to the workforce. Below are only some of the careers you can find with a liberal arts degree.
As a writer, you will put your research skills and wordsmithing to the test (under a deadline, of course). If you love the unfolding drama of a human life or condensing otherwise obtuse theories into layman's terms, then this profession may be for you. Writers in any profession require keen critical thinking and communication skills, whether in the form of a piece written for mass publication or the interpersonal skills required to form a strong connection during interviews. In addition to these creative and interpersonal skills, writers often benefit from a broad knowledge base, which allows them to more effectively draw connections between the events and views included in their work.
Public Relations Specialist or Social Media Specialist
A public relations specialist and a social media specialist each works to encourage a positive public opinion of their company and its brand. A public relations specialist’s job involves crafting media releases for general information as well as crisis aversion or intervention. PR specialists play an important role in their company’s relationship with the community by helping to maintain rapport and build trust. Social media specialists take on similar job responsibilities by being tasked to expand brand awareness and acceptance through social media engagement. Social media specialists are charged with crafting engaging, brand-accurate content that helps to further the relationship between a company and its audience, maintain active and open channels of communication, and maintain trust between a company and its audience. Individuals in these positions benefit from strong interpersonal and communication skills, including written and verbal communication, a broad knowledge base, and a firm foundation in the technical skills needed to share their company’s message with its audience.
From weddings, quinceañeras, and bar/bat mitzvahs to anniversaries, reunions, product launches, and award ceremonies, event planners have seen just about everything there is to see when it comes to the logistics of planning a large event. Organized down to the minutiae, event planners undertake the challenge of navigating the dynamics of creating memorable events for a variety of audiences. These professionals benefit from strong interpersonal and organizational skills, a broad knowledge base of the cultural and professional expectations of their clients, and adaptive, quick-thinking dispositions that will allow them to recognize and address the numerous logistical challenges posed by the dynamics of a large event.
From maintaining and/or creating a brand’s aesthetic to innovating a space with an invigorating new look and feel; designers can be found in just about every market. Designers concern themselves with the aesthetic appeal and use of their subject, be it office spaces in corporate America or everyday products with easily recognized branding. Designers are responsible for understanding the needs of their clients as well as providing insight into the inner workings of the product to create a functional piece that resonates with their intended audience. Aside from the obvious benefit of having an artistic background, designers must also be adaptive and quick-thinking to solve problems within the confines of their projects. Designers also benefit from strong interpersonal and communication skills when collaborating with clients.
Educators do so much more than lecture in front of a group of students. Educators conduct research, field questions, and open the minds of pupils to the possibilities of a variety of fields. While part of their position is the dissemination of information, good educators can read their classroom, understand what aspects of the lesson are resonating with their students, and adjust their instruction accordingly. There is a dynamic relationship between a teacher, the students, and the subject of a day’s lesson. It takes an intuitive and inventive person to understand when the lecture that worked for the previous group is not working in the current context and then formulate a strategy to mitigate the difference. Professionals in this field benefit from strong interpersonal communication skills as well as the ability to confidently present information to a broad audience. While educators will often specialize in one specific subject or a broader field of subjects, all educators must be well versed in varying educational settings and learning styles, so as to better accommodate the students in their class. To achieve this end, educators at all levels must possess an in-depth knowledge of their craft and how it relates to a broad array of situations.
The dream of business majors everywhere, a CEO position is demanding, dynamic, and pivotal to a company’s success. As such, a CEO is expected to wear many hats, be capable of on-the-spot reasoning, and, at times, make snap judgments. The qualities of a good CEO are the same qualities needed for effective leadership. Leaders need to be hard workers with a versatile mindset, creative problem solvers, capable and fair mediators, apt learners, subject matter experts in their areas of expertise, and students of human nature with strong communication skills. Who better to be at the helm than a liberal arts major? A broad selection of courses and viewpoints exposes the student to points of contention and controversy. Literary and rhetorical analysis not only provide the student with the capacity to read and think critically, but also provide a grounding in debate and a comfort with public speaking. A firm foundation in the humanities and ethics provides insight into how we live and why we do what we do, as well as guidance on how to live and work responsibly. In terms of preparedness, CEO candidates from liberal arts backgrounds have a lead on their track-minded counterparts in these areas.
Whatever your future ambitions, a Liberal Arts Degree provides a firm foundation for a number of careers for creative and logistically minded students. By attaining a strong foundation in areas of rhetoric, analysis, and ethics, Liberal Arts Students can approach any career confidently, with the proper training and internship experiences, knowing they have the versatile skills necessary to become effective leaders.
Community Leadership Celebration to Honor Mary Ellen McDonough '73
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