The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The art of employment: how to afford your crazy art degree

“Some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we’re offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs,” said Governor Pat McCrory in a recent interview on Bill Bennett’s national radio show.

Whether or not you agree with the claim that the elite are pressuring students towards useless degrees, Gov. McCrory’s desire to defund seemingly dead-end degrees for more practical paths echoes a common misconception: you will not find a job if you have a liberal arts degree.

Everyone has heard the jokes about English majors flipping burgers, but in reality, employment is often the cause of a great deal of anxiety among artists, historians and other students in what are perceived as dead-end fields.

Some students avoid these majors all together, citing their perceived uselessness

in the business world. Others, such as first-year Conor Sastre, work towards double majors in order to make their preferred field relevant.

“History majors alone don’t have that many (job) options,” said Sastre.

Sastre currently pursues a double major in history and education, hoping to one day teach his passion to other eager students. However, a microeconomics course and the promise of more financially stable employment have led Sastre to consider changing his education major to economics.

“Except for the best of the best … most history majors are limited to either delivering pizzas or teaching,” Sastre explained.

Similar fears surround theatre majors, English majors and women’s, sexuality and gender studies majors, to name a few. But, these degree paths provide a great deal of abilities and understandings that will assist in finding employment.

“One of the things I value about the English major is that it makes you incredibly nimble as a writer, as a thinker and as a dealer of ideas,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of English Mylène Dressler. “(An English major) is valuable for anyone who wants to be involved in social activism and needs to wield language to transmit their passions to an audience.”

This is merely one option among many in the list of potential opportunities Dressler suggests. Other options include entrepreneurship, advertising, marketing and any sort of content creation.

A list for history, art or theatre majors would look similar, as these degree paths cultivate a student’s ability to recognize trends and effectively communicate with a client or employer. All three may find employment in marketing, consulting, public relations or even writing.

Joshua Friedman, a recent UNC Asheville graduate, recounted the usefulness of his art education in his job search.

“I have found that the most important things I learned studying art were flexibility and creativity,” Friedman explained. “Since I’ve been in the working world, I’ve had to be quick on my feet and look in places I might not have thought about before, but there are certainly jobs out there for us.”

The same could be said about any “dead-end” degree path. The world is a scary place, regardless of what you studied in school. However, despite the fears of Gov. McCrory, a degree in something that is not obviously practical is not a sentence to perpetual unemployment.

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