In the past few years, the demand for liberal arts graduates in the workplace has continued to increase, said the associate director of university career services.The challenge liberal arts majors face is not having a specific job field to enter once they graduate, Kimshi Hickman, associate director of university services said.
“What becomes key is simply understanding that what employers are looking for in their top skills are the very strengths they have,” Hickman said.
Yearly, employers have said that job candidates lack the top skills they are looking for, which include speech communication, proper grammar and developed writing skills, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Job Outlook 2006 research.
Doors are now opening up for liberal arts graduates from consulting, education, health care and finance, Hickman said. She added that areas such as retail and wholesale are usually good venues for liberal arts majors to enter. Also, with the retirement of those in government positions in the next few years, jobs could be opening there too, Hickman said.
Learning to study efficiently and effectively, putting importance on critical thought and having a writing foundation gives liberal arts majors an edge in the professional world, said Mary Volcansek, dean of AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Whitney Waller, a freshman English and religion major, said she thinks liberal arts students have the advantage of flexibility, which can be applied to a broad range of professions.
“You’re in (a liberal arts program) because there are so many different ways to take what you learned and utilize it and plug it in somewhere else,” Waller said.
Volcansek said degrees such as accounting and nursing allow students to easily find a first job and know where they are going in their career, but said a liberal arts degree differs because it provides a wider base of knowledge.
“It’s having that breadth of knowledge to advance up the ladder,” said Volcansek, “and that’s where liberal arts majors tend to be successful.”
Volcansek said she recommends liberal arts students receive a minor in business or accounting so they will have an advantage over job candidates educated in only one field.
Daniel Short, dean of the School of Business, said he agrees that a well-rounded education helps students in any field.
Short said students in the business school can only take half their classes in business so they are also educated in liberal arts classes.
“Just as I argue that you have to have a strong liberal arts education to be well-educated, I would argue, if you are a liberal arts major and know nothing about how business functions, you cannot argue you are truly educated,” Short said.