UT must offer better career services

Emma Berdanier

Leaving university is a frightening experience, to say the least, especially when you’re entering a tight job market where employers are hiring at a slow rate. And at a university like UT, where getting useful career advice is a hard feat to accomplish, it can feel almost impossible to mold your undergraduate degree into a profitable job. This is particularly true for students from the College of Liberal Arts, whose degrees aren’t perceived as matching up to jobs as easily as those with degrees in science and technology fields.

UT should offer more career services for students, starting from their first day of freshman year, by helping them plan a path of internships from the beginning, rather than leaving students stumbling through their senior year scared to leave the 40 Acres. These services should be easier to navigate and should be specifically focused on the wide variety of majors that liberal arts students study, helping them see that they can turn their major into something profitable.

“I had to go search for career services for myself. I had heard of it but it was never really upsold to me. I went to advising offices and they told me they existed, but never really helped me find them,” said Jonathan Cox, a recent UT liberal arts graduate. “And they weren’t very helpful either — they just looked at my resume and told me it was great, but not much else. It ended up really just being a resume review service.”

To receive career and post graduation help at UT, one has to go through their college to a department specialized in the field. But this process is a hard one to navigate, and the office is hard to find on one’s own. The process also lumps together the search for graduate school with the search for post-undergraduate employment, rather than separating them. Framing post-grad options in this way signals to students that they should not expect to find a job post-graduation, but rather have to attend graduate school.

Campuses such as Wake Forest University offer students career services that help students from matriculation to graduation. Their office offers updates on internship and career opportunities tailored to students’ specific goals and divides career goals into checklists based on grade level. It’s a full-fledged career center that accommodates every major and is tailored to each student — something UT should emulate.

While the virtues of the liberal arts are fully evident on university campuses, career offices can draw much inspiration from successful liberal arts majors in the workforce. Most people don’t know that many wealthy people studied the liberal arts. The list of Fortune 500 CEOs comprises of more than just business majors — in fact it’s made up in large part by liberal arts majors. Philosophy, history and political science majors make up the list of the top business executives in the world, leaders who managed to turn their liberal arts degree into something profitable and something relatively unexpected.

Studies have also shown that the jobs available to liberal arts majors are incredibly varied. Students with English majors can work in marketing, sales and editing. History majors could work as analysts, consultants and patient services representatives. The jobs are out there — the problem is finding ways to sell your major to employers who aren’t specifically looking for it.

That’s where UT should come in. UT’s career services office should teach students how to sell a liberal arts degree that is anything but useless and show them how valuable skills such as problem solving and writing abilities can be used in the workforce.

Berdanier is a philosophy senior from Boulder, Colorado. She is a senior columnist.