Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

All roads lead to arts

Avery Thorpe

Above all else, I am a writer. I’ve been drawn to words my whole life—from carrying around a Webster’s Dictionary before I could read to becoming a student journalist—but it has not been without reluctance.

I hesitated to pursue writing-centric studies, fearing a liberal arts major would make it more difficult to secure a job after graduation. It took me two years of full-time enrollment at UT to take creative writing and English courses, which sparked an intellectual curiosity my previous coursework simply did not. Those classes taught me to place my fulfillment above my preconceived notions about certain majors and careers.

While students interested in the arts face societal and economic pressures to choose more conventional career paths, those who do not explore all aspects of their professional and educational interests in college risk forgoing vital forms of self-discovery. 

“The number one way to find out if something is right for you, is to do it,” said Isabel Tweraser, a career services manager in the College of Fine Arts. “No personality test, no assessment is going to tell you as much as trying something is.”

Liberal arts and fine arts degrees equip students with soft skills like critical thinking and emotional intelligence, which are essential to long-term career success. According to Forbes, these soft skills are only growing in value as more jobs become automated.

“It’s really, really important to be able to really enjoy learning the material, engaging with it, and not worrying too much about what that’s going to produce or where that’s going to land you,” said Denise Gutierrez, a career coach in the College of Liberal Arts. “Organizations and employers want people that are meant to have the skills of learning and being able to communicate and collaborate with each other and have an understanding for how humans collaborate and work together, and those all come from those creative pursuits.”

There does not have to be a clear dichotomy between pursuing one’s interests and gaining professional experience. While students may feel inclined toward either the arts or the professional world, most careers are a combination of both. Trying out a variety of fields lets students find the balance that works for them.

“Being open-minded is really paramount to finding a successful career in the arts,” Tweraser said. “Be willing to do something that is not exactly perfect because it could lead to the exactly perfect thing. … The combination of disciplines and being interdisciplinary is more than the sum of its parts.”

There are avenues on campus for students looking to better understand what they want out of a career after graduation. For example, Texas Career Engagement offers a career exploration course and one-on-one career counseling.  

“Your career is never a linear path,” Tweraser said. “It is so much more nuanced and has more depth and breadth than that. My former supervisor told me that your career is not a ladder. It is a walk in the woods. You jump over rocks, sometimes you switch paths. Yes, it’s just a really fun and exciting journey, and there’s no wrong step to take. It’s just a new step.”

Even now, I question whether I’m making the right choice of major and career path. But I always remind myself to consider whether what I’d lose for trying is greater than what I’d lose for limiting myself. Trying and failing at something might be uncomfortable, but students should take advantage of the vast career and major exploration options before them so they don’t miss out on a path they might love. 

Henningsen is an advertising and English major from Austin, Texas.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
McKenzie Henningsen, Associate Opinion Editor & Associate Copy Desk Chief
McKenzie Henningsen is a junior English and advertising double major from Austin, Texas. She currently serves as Associate Opinion editor and Associate Copy Desk Chief.