Published: Tuesday, May 13 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT
I majored in the humanities.I even got a graduate degree.And now
twenty years later I still wished I had only minored in my love, and majored
instead in something more marketable. Some things we love should
remain as hobbies (literature, writing, art) then we should pursue a worthwhile,
marketable skill. I've been discouraged by my failures for enough years to
speak from experience. I'm telling all of my kids that while they may
want to major in history, they also better get a CDL and learn how to drive a
backhoe, or become an LPN, so they can pay the electric bill.
Students and graduates need to recognize that school and major are just two
dimensions of a person, and to stand out, students need to build other unique
skills and accomplishments to position themselves for their career path.
Publishing or writing a professional blog, volunteering or taking leadership
positions in trade/professional associations, public speaking, and other
distinguishing activities outside of school can make a graduate's resume
standout and build networking opportunities.While involvement in
student clubs and activities are important in school, students need to build
relationships outside of the school and strive to make a difference in some way.
I'm grateful for the great literature I have been blessed to read and the
classes in philosophy I have taken. Each has helped mold who I have become to
this point. Each has helped me to become the educated person or that I am .
Neither has contributed to me making money that I know of. There is education
and then there is training which enables a person to earn a living. Most
learning such as mathematics or learning how to farm falls into both categories.
Want to be employable when you graduate? Learn how to use spreadsheet and
presentation software (Excel and Powerpoint) VERY well. In technical fields,
it's assumed that you know how to use them, and in less technical fields,
you can really set yourself apart by being the person in the department who
knows how to use them.Find a pat-time or summer job that actually
teaches you to use them - neither is particularly hard to master, but so many
choose not to.
Diversity in career options is not nearly as important as what career options
you have. If I get an MD, chances are I will be a doctor. And I am not
complaining about the fact that my career options are narrow. I have a massively
wide array of options with a high school diploma: McDonalds, Burger King, Taco
Bell, In N Out,.......... lots of choices! I got a degree in the humanities.
Let's just say that no one was bursting to offer me a job. One major thing
to consider (and about 3/4 of people in my major did this) was that a humanities
major is easy enough (so easy that I was able to double major) that many
students can take a full load of pre med and pre dental classes. Or just double
major. So I guess I am a humanities major who works in an entirely different
field. And I only do so despite my humanites degree. It was an enlightening but
financially useless degree.
Imagine how dull and boring the world would be if all anyone could be was a
doctor, lawyer or an engineer?
I do think the part about the overrated elite schools has merit. Anecdotal, but
I knew a guy who graduated from Harvard business with honors. He went back home
to Southern California and had a difficult time marketing himself as Southern
California business is largely run by the nepotism of USC and UCLA. I suspect
that here in Utah, the U and BYU has the same effect. In any case one area a
person can get a job with just about any major is the military. You become an
officer, and you can be a history major and still fly planes, or do most
anything else the military has to offer. The only real exception I'm aware
of is you need an engineering degree to be assigned to nuclear reactors in the
Navy. And, my personal belief is that sometimes the person who graduates with a
seemingly hodgepodge major may be the kind of person who can think outside the
box. Not everyone is geared to focas on just one narrow area of expertise.
More important than the major and school is the persons work ethic.
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