There may be moments, during the course of your liberal arts degree, that you question your decision to follow the path less “practical.” At least, that’s what some of your friends and family might call it. Our society is increasingly bottom-line driven, compelled to value things only in relation to their immediate or reliably projected rewards. Study programs that seem more likely to funnel directly into jobs are highly prized, while programs focused on building broad skill sets are labeled risky.
But the truth is our economy is changing in ways that make few study areas entirely safe bets. The job market is a shifting, highly competitive space. In order to find their footing, students need versatile, core skills more than ever – the kind of foundational abilities only a liberal arts program can build.
International students in Italy who are struggling to learn the local language have a new appreciation for the importance of clear communication! And although basic clarity is indeed important, advanced communication skills are about more than stringing together a coherent sentence or email. As our world becomes increasingly networked, businesses are giving more thought to messaging – the ways their company communicates with customers and reaches new target groups. The National Center for Educational Statistics found that even though career training landed grads jobs faster, liberal arts grads caught up to them quickly because of their understanding of how meaning is made; their core ability to intuit and analyze the nuances of oral, nonverbal, and written communications.
Critical Thinking and Creativity
In many ways, these skills go hand in hand. Students who think critically can see outside the box. They can survey ideas from multiple perspectives and argue from several angles. And when you can peer beyond the status quo, you are perfectly poised to creatively contribute to innovation – again, abilities typically associated with liberal arts majors. Chances are, if you love the humanities and have chosen to study abroad in Rome, you know all about risk-taking, improvisation, and veering off the beaten path. Companies look for these qualities because they add up to excellent complex problem-solving skills.
Another major career advantage of the skills discussed above, is their inherent transferability. The discoveries you make about communicating as a study abroad liberal arts student have a range of applications in diverse business contexts. What you know about adjusting to new cultures and languages, in addition to your ability to write a superior essay, will help you draft proposals, win new clients, craft creative marketing content, research new market segments, or persuasively argue a case in court (just to name a few). You will also understand how to negotiate work relationships and connect effectively with your employer. Liberal arts students know how to think their way around almost any problem. As such, they often make natural leaders who understand how to rally a team, and strategize their company’s path to success.
John Cabot University’s Center for Career Services is dedicated to connecting students and alumni to rewarding employment opportunities, and in the past six months alone it has helped 167 students find jobs or internships. The Center has launched a new service for JCU graduates called “Jobs of the Day” in which interested alumni receive information about the latest job opportunities from various international companies. In addition to the many resources available to students and alumni for launching employment is the Career Fair offered each semester, with the next one taking place on Friday, November 7th.
What do you think is the most valuable skill liberal arts students bring to the work place?