An argument for the usefulness of a major in liberal arts.
Forbes contributor Anders (The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out, 2011, etc.) offers encouraging advice for students worried about choosing a college, a major, or finding a job after graduation. In a “rapidly evolving high-tech future,” he writes, there will be “thousands of openings a week” for graduates who majored in subjects such as philosophy, anthropology, or English. These humanities and social science majors are the people businesses want to hire, Anders maintains, for their intellectual curiosity, creativity, empathy, critical thinking skills, and ability to write. These are the qualities, argues the author persuasively, that are hallmarks of the liberal arts. Like most self-help books, this one is rolled out in short, pithy chapters filled with jaunty anecdotes about successful job hunters who managed to apply their education to a “new category of jobs” that require new abilities: “to read the room—and to get different people on the same page”; to handle ambiguity and use ingenuity to solve problems; and to “inform, entertain or inspire.” Anders unpacks the idea of critical thinking, central to the liberal arts, by highlighting the various skills that critical thinking entails: interpreting controversial topics, for example, filtering and distilling information, and being comfortable with “non-linear thinking.” The jobs that the author sees arising all connect to technology: market research, which depends on online surveys; recruiting and career coaching, which use giant databases to find candidates; fundraising, which depends on technology “to go prospecting for donations” and mount online campaigns; digital designers; and project managers. Anders acknowledges that these technology jobs may require learning new skills, but he believes that liberal arts majors have “the enthusiasm and temperament to prevail in uncharted domains.” Campus career centers, he cautions, may not have caught up with the multiplicity of new opportunities, but many, he has found, have begun “career-friendly initiatives.” Anders ends with a step-by-step protocol for getting jobs that can lead to a satisfying career.
Useful guidance for newly minted job hunters.