“Oh, that’s interesting. So what can you do with a degree in Theology/Philosophy/English/Literature/History/Humanities?”
It’s the most dreaded question in any job interview for a liberal arts major.
We’ve all heard it a thousand times, and the answer never gets any easier. The follow up suggestions are usually to teach, or go to graduate school. To be honest, those answers seem like the easiest option. After all, it’s not like there’s a philosophy factory opening up down the street. Somehow, you have to tell people that just because you’re getting a degree in literature, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck trying to get a novel published.
Enter marketing your liberal arts degree.
The first step to marketing it is something most liberal arts majors have already realized. There aren’t exactly a whole lot of jobs in the field. So you’re going to need to start out your job search from a very different perspective.
Instead of looking for a career in mechanical engineering, software design, or at an accounting firm, you’re going to need to find jobs that will be available to people regardless of educational background. On the plus side, that’s most jobs these days. That does mean, though, that you should be prepared for the inevitable interview question- “So how did you get into this field?” Quite honestly, your answer doesn’t matter a whole lot, as long as it’s not for the money or something materialistic like that.
That does mean, though, that you won’t be bound to any particular job. The sky is literally the limit. Take me, for example. I majored in Theology and Philosophy, and I have a position with Bankers Life selling insurance until I can get certified to become a financial advisor. Sales, marketing, advising, corporate offices, and many, many more are looking to hire. Anything you really want to do is possible, as long as you aren’t required to have a degree in the subject (like accounting or engineering).
Step two is to be proud of the fact that you have a liberal arts education. A liberal arts education gives you a perspective unlike anything a technical education can provide. With the liberal arts, you learn how to think critically about problems. You see many, many different perspectives. You understand why people think the way they do and how the various topics influence each other.
Statistically, liberal arts majors make it much, much farther in their careers than those who don’t have liberal arts. A simple google of “Who has a philosophy degree” shows a who’s who of actors, CEOs, and politicians. In particular, liberal arts degrees mean you’ve written a lot of papers and given many, many presentations. That means you’ve learned how to communicate, both in writing and verbally. Use this to your advantage. You have desirable skills. You can get those jobs.
Liberal arts degrees are actually fantastic for trying to find a job. No, the search isn’t easy, but in the end, it will most definitely pay off.