What can you do with a liberal arts degree? More than you think.
Characteristics that make those with liberal arts degrees perfectly suited to contribute to and help run any complex organization.
Picture this: It’s early June, and you recently graduated from college with a degree in liberal arts. What’s next? This is a question you have likely heard from friends, family and just about anyone else in between. But for the first time in your life, the next step is likely not mapped out for you and coming up with a plan can seem intimidating.
Luckily, this feeling is not one that is felt alone, as many college grads (even those with a specialized degree!) have felt this sense of confusion. I myself felt this way after graduating from Purdue University. With a major in English and minors in religious studies, women’s studies, and philosophy, I expected to have two options — to become a professor or a professor. However, after considering a few other avenues, I decided to explore publishing. After all, I could write, edit, speak, and make connections, so I felt it was a good fit.
At the time, this decision made perfect sense to me. But what I had yet to realize was that my degree had prepared me for so much more than I could have expected. Editorial work became project management, project management became creative, and creative became marketing, marketing strategy and branding. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that those with a liberal arts degree do not possess “real skills.” In my opinion, this could not be further from the truth. While I’m not a fan of the term “soft skills,” what I can say is that through my own personal experience, I have realized that the value liberal arts majors can bring – especially at the executive level – is rooted in knowing who you are, feeding your curiosity, and looking for ways to be of service. It is important to remember that none of these qualities are reserved for liberal arts majors but in my experience we’ve developed a great many of these skills, even without knowing it.
Reflecting on the time of my graduation, one of the best decisions I could have made was to “step off the treadmill” I was told to stay on, look at myself, and explore things that spoke to me. Additional advice I would give to those aiming to find their path would be:
- Be willing to do things you aren’t sure you can do. If you care about it and feel you have something to offer — to be of service in some way — the expertise and opportunities will come.
- Pursue what you’re drawn to. If you do this, work hard, and become a master at your craft, you can contribute in a number of ways.
- Channel your Inner Mr. Rogers. Remind yourself that you are exactly who and where you are supposed to be. Trust the universe, plug into its goodness, and focus on contributing to something you care about with people you admire and like.
- It’s not about the title or the company — It’s always about you and the people around you.
In the age of rapidly-accelerating technology, AI, and globalization, the world needs smart people who possess the qualities to communicate, tell stories, create and solve problems and lead teams – just to name a few. These characteristics make those with liberal arts degrees perfectly suited to contribute to and help run complex organizations, especially in areas like product development, customer success, sales and marketing—all mission-critical pieces of any successful organization.