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Connecting College Majors to Careers

Career Options for Liberal Arts Majors

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Connecting College Majors to Careers
Copyright Getty Images / Andrew Rich
Young people and their families who are considering college majors during these difficult economic times are often conflicted when selecting an appropriate course of study. Should the young aspiring writer choose a major like English or something deemed more practical like computer science, nursing or business?

Connecting Your Major to Employment Opportunities

Given the rising cost of education and the contraction in labor markets, it has been harder and harder for some to justify choosing a liberal arts discipline. Fortunately for those taking a sophisticated approach to this dilemma there is some middle ground.

The college student can combine liberal arts study in an area of academic passion with a more practical grounding via experiences like a minor, internship, volunteer experience or graduate study.

Capitalizing on Campus Activities

The student who loves Victorian literature but has no plans to go on for a PhD. and teach might select a secondary area of study and/or interest. If the student enjoys writing, that might mean taking on a minor in communications or marketing.

This could be combined with campus activities like writing for the campus newspaper, editing a college magazine or working for a campus television station. An internship with a public relations/marketing firm or online media outlet would further qualify the student for entry level jobs outside academia.

Bridging a Major to Work

Another way to bridge an English major, or other liberal arts major, to the work world is through professional school in an applied area. A broad range of possible disciplines could be considered with common areas including law, business, journalism, library science, communications, medicine, public health, counseling, speech and hearing pathology, human resources, social work, environmental studies, technical writing, public administration and international affairs.

Often a few related courses (well short of a major) and some volunteer or internship experience is all that is needed for the student to qualify for admissions at a professional school.

Researching Majors and Career Options

College students considering a major in English should reach out to the Career and/or Alumni office at their school to obtain a list of graduates who majored in the discipline. Ask for contact information and job titles so you can reach out to alums working in interesting fields to conduct informational interviews. You can ask these individuals how their major help to prepare them for their current career. In addition, be sure to ask them about the other experiences or coursework which were critical to their career development and enhanced their marketability.

So you can see that the liberal arts are still a viable option if you supplement those studies in a strategic way.

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