I am now the proud holder of a Bachelor’s degree in German and Classical Studies. Yet, since returning to my hometown from university, I have been met with a barrage of condescending comments and questions forced upon me in an almost aggressive manner. The million-dollar question which people can’t wait to hear the answer to is, “Well what are you going to do with that?” I was sometimes embarrassed to respond with what I was really thinking, which was that I was still a little unsure but would like to do something creative or in the arts. But before I could expand (or even get a word in edgeways) they would tell me that I ought to be a teacher or work at the airport, because apparently those are the only two jobs one can do with a languages/humanities degree. If I had a pound for every time I heard those suggestions then I wouldn’t have needed to find a job at all.
What these people don’t know is that my joint-honours degree actually encompassed a hell of a lot more than just studying a language and literature, which are of course disciplines which go hand in hand with this type of degree; but are not the only elements involved. The degree course was tremendously varied and I got the opportunity to study Linguistics, Philosophy, Art, Film, History and Ancient History. This proves that there is without a doubt, an overlap between these kinds of discourses, which even encroaches on the sciences from time to time. And despite Veterinary Science, Education and Dentistry & Medicine topping the Telegraph’s poll on the best degree subjects for getting a job, Humanities graduates leave higher education with a vast array of employability skills.
Humanities graduates’ strengths lie in their verbal and written communication skills. They are often highly creative, as well as being critical thinkers. They have the ability to appreciate how judgements have been reached, pick apart arguments, and formulate their own in a rational, clear and concise manner. Their analytical minds allow them to make sense of large and complex sets of data and information. They usually have a deeper knowledge of the world at large, an understanding of how things came to be the way they are and certainly don’t see aspects of life in terms of what is black and white. These are the reasons why Humanities students have gone on to do many great things.
Now, I hold the teaching profession in high regard, but know that it’s not for everyone. So in order to show that this is far from being the only option, I have compiled a small sample of highly successful individuals and further relevant professions according to top Graduate site Prospects pertaining to five major Humanities disciplines:
Alumni: J. K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, Chris Martin
Fields/Professions: Law, Archaeology, PR, Museums
Alumni: Louis Theroux, Salman Rushdie, Sacha Baron Cohen
Fields/Professions: Politics, Archivist, Heritage, Trade Union Research Officer
Alumni: Woody Allen, Martin Luther King Jr
Fields/Professions: Lecturer, Local Government, Civil Service, Journalism
Alumni: Paula Radcliffe, Kate Beckinsale, Alastair Campbell
Fields/Professions: Translation, Broadcast Journalism, Tourism, Events
Alumni: Steven Spielberg, Conan O’Brien
Fields/Professions: TEFL, Academic Librarian, Marketing, Editorial
It seems therefore that one of the major selling points of a degree in one of these subjects is the idea that you are leaving your options open as regards your future career. There will always be the opportunity to specialise while completing the degree programme or find your calling thereafter. With a Humanities degree, anything is possible.
Image available under a CC License from Brian Hillegas.