“Why don’t we get the unemployed graduates with useless degrees in History and English majors to be interns,” I heard a business executive say the other day. I bristled at the adjective “useless.”
Most employers agree they want employees who think critically when faced with challenges, write clearly and concisely, and make connections that bridge cultural, generational and disciplinary divides; skills honed by a liberal arts education. However, students who’ve spent years and paid dearly to develop these assets can be at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a place in the job market.
Students in STEM complete a prescribed course load that renders specific field-related skills. Students graduating with degrees in vocational fields complete credentialed pathways. Students going into graphic arts graduate with a portfolio in hand. However, students who graduate with History and English degrees often lack such a ‘passport’ for direct placement into this rapidly changing economy.
A passport for Liberal arts majors comes in the form of networks. Through connections, internships and professional relationships, students create bridges to the world of work. These connections must be built intentionally with a commitment of focus and time. Yet how many students know this while they are enrolled in college? Many of them, along with their parents, believe that enrolling in college and performing well in classes will put them on a successful path to employment. But it takes more than this for many liberal arts majors. What students “do” in college has never been more important.
Academic coaches, faculty and parents can work with students to help them develop critical networking skills. It’s about taking positive risks and creating a personal brand. Building a professional network with people across industries while still in school creates the passport for successful employment upon graduation. As I heard someone say recently, “Your network equals your net worth.”
LifeBound trains faculty, staff and parents in coaching skills to help students build such networks to successfully launch. To learn more, join us for in-depth training in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Denver and Hawaii. Visit www. lifebound.com for more information.