Thursday, November 15, 2012

Assessing Job Opportunities for Liberal Arts Majors

Last night, as I was presenting to our RA’s about career services, the discussion turned to liberal arts majors and career fairs.  One brave philosophy major shared that she felt that our job fairs were really just for business and communication students; that there was nothing for liberal arts students.

This did not surprise me, as it is a misconception that I have heard for many years from liberal arts students.  I did crack a joke to this student, “you will not find a company called Philosophy Majors Inc. at our fall career fair next week.” After the laughter subsided, I went on to describe that liberal arts majors have several challenges:
1.     Identifying jobs of interest and learning job titles
2.     Identifying industries of interest
3.     Identifying which of their many valuable skills they want to use on a daily basis at a job
4.     Researching companies and beginning to identify the array of jobs that may be available
5.     Finding the courage to approach an employer and introduce yourself, and selling them your experiences and skills

For example, perhaps this philosophy student possesses very strong negotiation and persuasion skills, writing and research skills, computer skills, and public speaking skills.  Maybe she always wanted to help others but wasn’t sure how.  Now, after seeing who is coming to the career fair, she identifies that a major hospital is attending but they listed clerical, clinical and finance positions.  Normally, she would cross it off the list or not even look at it in the first place, because hospitals are all about doctors and nurses, right?

Luckily, this philosophy student did her homework and visited this hospital’s website and identified two full time jobs that would need someone with her skill set: Outreach Coordinator and Human Resources Communications Specialist.  Should she approach this hospital at the career fair? Yes!

Our philosophy student now needs to create her “elevator speech” or mini introduction to this hospital representative.  Here is an example of what this may include:

1.     Mention your year in college and major.
2.   Mention that you have learned about this organization from their website and what position you are looking for and when.
3.   Mention briefly any related experience, coursework and skills.
4.     Ask for more information about the position of interest.

For more information on how to work a job fair you can enroll to watch our Blackboard webshop or watch our videos on YouTube – search on Hofstra Career Fairs.

-Suzanne Dagger, Director of Career Services

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