Think Your Major is Important? Think Again….

For many employers what counts are the skills your derive from your university and internships experiences, not the major. Before you spend a lot of time pondering the advantages and disadvantages of the majors you are considering, you should read this:

An Excellent Defense of the Humanities by Yale’s Howard Bloch

This is the most eloquent and convincing case for the study of the humanities I’ve read. Although the humanities have been displaced from their former role of prominence, Bloch reminds us that the wisdom, insights and applications they provide will never become obsolete.
One notices it might have been beneficial had more of the players in our irrational markets read their Homer, Dante, Dickens, or Balzac. There are no guarantees, of course, but greed and appetite have been exposed in literature and moral philosophy since the ancient Greeks. Nor has modern thought neglected this important subject. More education via Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, or John Stuart Mill, or a serious course of Gibbon, Marx, or Tocqueville, could have helped some particular individuals and their institutions gain some purchase upon the consequences–or at least the feasibility–of their actions. It is doubtful whether the greediest would have taken the time to read great works of literature, philosophy, or history, but that is another question. For they might have learned from the philosophers about our obligations to each other or the necessity for external regulation of limitless human appetite. From the litany of lost fortunes and illusions to be found in fiction, they might have discovered the tools necessary for assessing one’s own motivations and character along with the motivations and character of others. From historians, they might have recognized the unlikely chances of beating certain historical cycles and odds.

Looking for a Job with a BA in the Humanities?

smartmoves.jpgAs you know, it’s tough finding a job at the moment. But not impossible. If you’re still in school, give yourself a leg up on the competition by planning ahead and developing a strategy. 

The book Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grad by Sheila Curran is probably the best book out there for helping you proceed. It provides a number of case scenarios of liberal arts majors who landed in great jobs. The key for all of them was patience and a series of increasingly interesting internship experiences.
Don’t put your head in the sand and wait till it’s too late. Start planning now.

Internships Available at Dissent Magazine in NY

Internships are available fall, spring and summer for students with these skills: 

Ideally, the intern should have excellent communications skills and be able to proofread. Computer skills are necessary and a working knowledge of Microsoft Office is highly desirable. Knowledge of HTML and Web site production is also helpful. We are looking for independent self-starters who are also able to work with a small team in a variety of tasks.

Koreans Hear Message on Importance of Humanities for Global Economy

The president of Smith College is quoted in the Korean Tribune:

“Shunning the humanities in favor of more specialized fields of study is very short sighted, according to the president of a leading women’s liberal arts college in the United States.

A global perspective is needed to succeed in the 21st century and the humanities is essential to attaining a global perspective,” said Carol Christ, president of Smith College, in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday. “The world today requires globally educated executives who understand another culture,” she said.

Employers Want Humanities Skills and Internships

Based on a recent poll by Hart Research Associates, employers say that colleges and universities should develop learning outcomes that emphasize these skills and experiences:

89%  The ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing
81%  Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
79%  The ability to apply knowledge and skill to real-world settings through internships and other experience
75%  The ability to analyze and solve complex problems
75%  The ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions
71%  Teamwork skills
70%  The ability to be creative
68%  The ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources
67%  The ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions
45%  Proficiency in a foreign language

IT exec touts Humanities

Robin Beck, an IT Executive at the University of Pennsylvania has had a successful career at Penn and formerly at General Electric. When asked what she would study if she were to go back to college today, she states:

“Exactly what I did before: English and Humanities. The ability to take complex ideas and make them understandable to a wide audience is a skill I learned as an undergraduate, as well as to express ideas in writing and to think creatively.”
See the magazine Computerworld, Oct. 25, 2010, p. 10.
(thanks to Ray Clifford for sharing this)