Five surprising careers for Liberal Arts grads
It can feel like there are few careers for people who get a liberal arts degree. Especially since when someone finds out that you are getting that kind of degree, they probably assume that you will become a teacher, even if you have no interest in education.
But plenty of jobs can apply to what you learn in a liberal arts education. This is something that journalist and author George Anders wrote in his book You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education.
Anders talks about the different skills and experiences of different graduates and how they have built that into fruitful careers. He looks across different fields and discusses how their education got people into these jobs. All while encouraging the you that you can do the same thing.
Here are some of the careers that are mentioned and how your education can help:
Trying to sell someone on a product can be a tricky task. Trying to make something more well-known throughout a competitive market can lead to many challenges when another company is doing the same thing in the same field. But with a liberal arts background, it can be more manageable.
Liberal arts courses prepare students for a lot of different audiences. It is unlikely that you are going to write the same argument in different papers, and it will never be the same. That does not even take into account other aspects of your education like critical thinking or creative writing.
These courses allow for a full understanding of what it takes to make something seem appealing. And that can be done through creative ideas or convincing, appealing rhetoric.
Anders interviewed Andy Anderegg, an English major who got a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Kansas. She wanted to be a writer, so she practiced writing in a variety of genres and styles. But as her career as a writer failed to gain traction, she decided to take up a job at Groupon.
She applied for a job as an in-house writer and quickly grew to understand Groupon’s way of grabbing people’s attention. From there, she became someone who taught the people who started in her position. She soon left Groupon and is now a digital consultant to multiple digital-media companies.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to advertising a variety of products, especially when you are trained to make something eye-catching.
Starting a business, in some ways, is like starting a new project or a paper. It may seem like an odd comparison, but both come from a vision that you have and requires dedication to make it great.
Both processes require a good understanding of whatever idea you are trying to expand on. And that comes from learning about the world, learning what people need, and how to get it to them effectively. And through liberal arts, that is taught through reading about the history of the world, and books about the ways people interpret life.
Take Nicole Sahin for example. She studied humanities intending to become an anthropologist. But after traveling to places like Cambodia, Colombia, and the Philippines, she decided to start her own business.
Her company, Globalization Partners, provides U.S. companies with the tools they need for expansion across the globe. Her understanding of many different cultures helped her create a company that can succeed at having a reach past the United States, and that comes from her studies.
Liberal arts students get an opportunity to understand how people perceive the world constantly and that can be applied to giving those people the services they need to function in day-to-day life.
Understanding data is complicated. It is intimidating going into it and feels foreign trying to learn it. This is why liberal arts students have become a good fit for this occupation.
It has become a common practice within this type of education to try to break down what information means and how it can be applied. Whether it be an analysis of a poem or trying to weave the threads between one historical event to another, it has been drilled in to convey a message effectively. That is what the thesis statement is all about.
Analyzing data is very similar to this. Taking the information that is given to you and trying to understand what it may mean for your company, and from there, trying to phrase that information into something that can be understood across a larger group.
Danielle Sheer has experience with this transition from liberal arts to data analysis. She went to university as a philosophy major before going to law school. And since she finished her education, she has been working for Carbonite, a data-protection company.
She was intimidated by all of the complex terms that came with understanding data protection and trying to convey that to customers and employees. But as she started to break it down into simpler terms, she found more and more success.
Understanding language is important for any job, and being able to apply that to a field as complex as data analysis makes any liberal arts student a great fit.
Many liberal arts studies can apply to any type of publishing, whether it be for books or newspapers. But since we are in a digital age, this is a great time for publishing articles for websites online.
Especially for writing news articles, research is essential to making great and comprehensive work, as well as creating headlines that can catch someone’s eye and making them want to read an article. This allows for the years of learning how to research for papers and learning how to write in an engaging way to be put into practice.
Plus, with the wide amount of news sites, it can give you the chance to write about something you are passionate about. Whether it be giving a comprehensive history on a subject or an article trying to spark a discussion on politics, you can pave the way to writing about the things you are passionate about.
With all of the news websites out there, it fits any liberal arts student, no matter the niche that website has. Anders discusses Bloomberg News, a website specifically focused on financial news. They hire many liberal arts students, with their founding editor, Matthew Winkler, even having a BA in history.
The world needs to be updated on all of the latest news, and a liberal arts student can easily fill the role of providing that in exciting ways.
Social Media Marketing
The online landscape has shifted toward social media, and businesses need people who understand it to help with marketing. Social media is always changing, and it can be difficult to pin down what the audience likes and dislikes. But that is where a liberal arts education can help.
Creativity is key to making any post that will stand out to an audience, especially if it is for a product. And that is something that liberal arts prepare us for. Making something that can be enjoyed by anyone is something that creativity thrives on.
It also relies on a good understanding of people in general. Knowing how a large group of people functions is going to make creating something great for a company all the more effective and exciting.
In Anders’s book, he tells the story of LeAnne Gault, an English major with a passion for literature. After an attempt at teaching, she mostly had to do freelance work to make money while doing something she enjoyed. And in her free time, she would write poetry.
When she got a job offer as an in-house writer for the kitchen appliance company Viking Range, she submitted her poems as writing samples. Her poems provided such positive energy and creativity they made her a shoo-in for the job. And once she started making Facebook posts for the company that engaged audiences, the company started getting more sales. But along with that, Gault started being recognized for her work, including a Shorty Award, an award specifically for social media content.
With social media, the possibilities are endless. As long as you have the drive and the right outlook, companies will open themselves up to your style of writing.
Justin Brennan is a senior Charleston Southern student, interning with the Marketing and Communication office.