Are you getting flack from your parents, wondering why, if you majored in biochemistry, you’re slaving away at a non-profit or working at a start-up that isn’t starting up so well? Are you drifting further and further away from the career you thought you’d walk into after finishing your liberal arts education?
First of all, you’re not alone. Very few people end up working in fields related to their undergraduate major. Even if you were pre-med, it’s not a sign of failure that you didn’t go to med school or become a doctor. It’s becoming increasingly less of a stigma to switch careers and try things until we land on the career that we find most meaningful.
Here are three arguments you can wield when someone challenges your life choices:
College gave you skills
No matter what your major, you learned valuable, transferable skills in college: critical thinking, problem solving, time management, data analysis, clear and concise writing… and the list goes on. You also picked up very important life skills: teamwork, conflict resolution, tolerance, compassion, budgeting, etc. These soft skills are what we really send our kids to college for, not that Literature or Anthropology major. Most employers understand what comes with an undergraduate degree, and will be happy to hire you, regardless of which courses you took when you were there.
You have proven you can get things done
You were out on your own, fending your way towards your degree, and you got it done. You had deadlines, crunches, and all-nighters. You had massive projects that required everything you had. But you filled up on coffee and protein bars and you got it done. You now have the confidence not to be overly daunted by that looming project deadline, or that giant presentation. You’ve done this before.
You found your crew
As important as it is to have people to grab a drink with after work or call at 3 a.m. when you’re depressed, the relationships you forged in college—likely with people from very different majors—can actually be an asset in your career life too. Not only do you have a personal support network of lifetime friends, you’ve also met mentors, professors, teammates, future colleagues, and contacts of every stripe. You’re well placed to rely on an ever expanding network of allies.
A college degree means a whole lot more than your GPA or what you studied. Keep the big picture in mind when people doubt you. Just remind them that what really matters is the full swatch of skills you picked up in those years in academia. And remind them that you have the right to pursue your dreams, regardless of your major. Especially if your major wasn’t something really useless, like Underwater Basket Weaving.
In fact, here are a list of 10 jobs for which your liberal degree and the skills that come with it are ideally suited!
- Economist (Annual Salary $40,000 to $200,000)
- Archeologist (Annual Salary $40,000 to $171,000)
- Sociologist (Annual Salary $55,000 to $97,000)
- Psychologist (Annual Salary $67,000 to $90,000)
- Public Relations Specialist (Annual Salary $ 40,000 to $73,000)
- Human Resources Specialist (Annual Salary $42,000 to $72,000)
- Graphic Designer or Artist (Annual Salary $33,000 to $65,000)
- Writer (Annual Salary $57,000 to $65,000)
- Social Worker (Annual Salary $37,000 to $56,000)
- Teacher (Annual Salary $47,000 – $52,000)
As you can see, liberal arts degree jobs are available in a diverse range of fields. The average starting salaries for liberal arts majors have risen to about $45,000. Although a liberal arts education does not train you for a specific job, it does prepare you for the world of work by teaching you with an invaluable set of employability soft skills such as the skills to communicate effectively, think critically and the capability for lifelong learning.