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Arts, Humanities – what can I do?

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Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do, picking courses like medicine, nursing, or law which set them on a career path from the start. Others figure it out half way through and start looking for the experience or extra skills that will help them get their chosen position. And then there are those who haven’t a clue, get through their final exams and go….what now? I was one of those undecided students, I did my degree (European Studies) knowing that I wanted to do languages and also get a grounding in some other areas like politics and history, for me it was the perfect mixture of subjects. However when I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I finished the course I realised that the course was so broad it really didn’t help me in narrowing down what I wanted to do. This can be a problem for a lot of arts and humanities students, they go through college studying a wide range of subjects and then come out with relatively little practical experience compared to some other courses like law or business which will normally involve some sort of work placement.

 

A lot of my friends who did arts related courses found themselves in the same situation, asking themselves what do I do next? Some decided to use their expertise in languages or history or geography etc. to go on and do a HDip and go into teaching. Some went on to do a Masters and gain more qualifications. Others started applying for jobs but had to ask themselves what jobs am I suitable for? And what ‘relevant experience’ do I have? Scouring job advertisements hoping the hated requirements for specific business or science related degrees wouldn’t appear!

 

It is for these reasons that I have to praise graduate programmes! Previously arts degrees had a lot of stigma attached to them, they used to be seen as ‘airy fairy’ degrees, now a lot of companies will look to balance out their graduate programmes with arts students. They realise that they have a different way of looking at things than more technically schooled students.

 

For all recently graduated students ‘transferable skills’ are key. Your knowledge of French Medieval history may not be relevant to a position you are applying to but your ability to research and present on a variety of topics most definitely is! Graduates need to think about ‘how’ they learnt, not just what they learnt in college.

 

Most popular transferable skills:

 

Team work – those awful group projects you did? They’ll come in useful in interview situations!

 

Communication – gossiping may not count but debating in lectures will.

 

Presentation – we all dreaded them but they had to be done and the experience will pay off now!

 

Leadership – always nominated the speaker in your group work? Use it now!

 

Interpersonal – Matched up with people you didn’t know too well? How did that work out?

 

Organisation – planning a night out for a class of 40-50… Not easy! Organising yourself to get to class after that night out… also not the easiest!

 

Problem solving – no readings done, class in 20 minutes…. quick google/wiki search – resourceful or what?

 

Motivation – deadline approaching…no work done rewarding yourself with a big night out once the project was handed in, also can be seen as ‘setting yourself a goal’.

 

*Disclaimer: These examples are not recommended for interview situations, they are aimed to get you thinking!*

Posted by Julia Purcell, Marketing & Communications Manager Sigmar on 29 November 2017

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