What can humanities concentrators do to enhance their employability?

<p>I'm a humanities concentrator and am beginning to worry about employment after college. I (and I'm sure lots of others!) would appreciate any suggestions re: how humanities concentrators can enhance their employability. I'm thinking of taking 4-5 courses in a practical field, but which one? Applied math? Statistics? Economics? Computer science? Which of these fields is the most pragmatic if a student only has the time to take a a few courses in one of them? I've also heard of students doing things like earning certifications online in skills like accounting. </p>

<p>Thanks CC!</p>

<p>First, I reject your dichotomy between "humanities" and "practical," since hard sciences are no more inherently practical. </p>

<p>The problem with employability of non-pre-professional concentrations (this goes for those biology concentrators that aren't pre-med as well) is that you need a goal. There is no set path for a Literature concentrator to follow.</p>

<p>So get an idea of what you might want to do. If you want to go into finance as many Harvard students do, it might not be a bad idea to learn some things about econ (though obviously the two are different) and stats certainly. If you want to do international or government work, fluency in a language (or more than one) might be helpful depending on what you want to do. Computer science skills are probably helpful for anything you want to do, or life in general. Same goes for stats. </p>

<p>Since a humanities concentration doesn't impart quantifiable "skills" in the same manner that a CS concentration does, you should look to acquire "skills" through experience. Spend summers doing internships in careers you would like to explore. Take advantage of Harvard's myriad opportunities to demonstrate leadership through running an organization with a large budget, being an editor on one of its publications with tens of thousands of readers, etc.</p>

<p>If your goal is a masters or PhD in something, your goals will depend on heavily on what field you're thinking of but in general I guess you'd want to make sure to focus heavily on building relationships with professors, research experience (if applicable) and thesis work (if applicable). </p>

<p>These are pretty vague, probably poorly informed suggestions coming from someone who has thought about many of the same issues at Harvard but I hope they help somewhat. You've posted topics about this before to which I've replied, so I refer you to those posts as well.</p>

<p>Also don't forget that a Harvard degree in anything will get you hired anywhere (although it's also a question of where specifically you want to go!)... degrees are very important, but to a certain extent, Harvard is a somewhat exception, especially considering some fields (such as finance or entrepreneurship) not only do not strongly support a degree in the related field, but actually look down upon graduate degrees (ex. MBA) in certain fields.</p>

<p>Goldman Sachs, for example, puts almost all candidates through basic training (internship, normally over the summer) before hiring. Ask any HR rep (their email format is <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@gs.com">firstname.lastname@gs.com</a> - look them up on linkedin.com) at GS - they will tell you most everyone learns after college. Most do not have degrees in finance, believe it or not. When you're on this sort of level (Harvard, high-responsiblity jobs, public office...) I think you'll find that these smart people learn on their own and are not hindered by whether they have a degree in Irish pop culture or not...</p>

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Also don't forget that a Harvard degree in anything will get you hired anywhere

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<p>This is blatantly false, though the rest of your post is fairly accurate since it focuses on finance. What are your sources?</p>

<p>It's true that the Harvard brand carries some weight in finance, though it's certainly far from the key to everything judging by the sheer number of Harvard students that get rejected from finance jobs. In many fields it carries next to no weight at all.</p>

<p>No. A Harvard degree will not get you hired "anywhere and everywhere." In fact, no degree on the planet will do that. Certain professions require specific degrees and specific certification qualifications (esp those legally defined), and you need to get that particular qualification in order to practice. </p>

<p>Can you spin a Harvard degree in any major into a job? There's an interesting thread on the Princeton board that seems to be trying to make a point that liberal arts degrees--even from Princeton...which logically would probably also include Harvard--seem to be a 'bad bet' because some "25% of seniors" are graduating without good job offers. I won't speculate on the veracity of those claims (based in part on university career office info), but it does seem like someone is trying to rekindle the humanities vs. something practical debate yet again. I'm usually very skeptical of either or propositions, and that debate tends to bring out the worst on both sides (i.e. humanities majors will go hungry and starve and/or engineers have no souls and don't appreciate the finer things in life). </p>

<p>Back to the original point--what can you do with a humanities degree. There ARE plenty of Harvard grads in the humanities getting jobs in finance and consulting. Some are going to law school or in some cases, even med school (yes you can do that). Some humanities majors are working at startups, and some (surprise, surprise) are actually doing things in the arts and humanities. </p>

<p>In any case, as to what skills you can learn to enhance employability. DwightD's earlier post offers some good suggestions. I'll re-emphasize the part regarding stats and comp sci. I do work in music, but increasingly, I find myself going back and refreshing myself in Java (and now learning Python on my own) because it's useful. Even in my so-called arts work. The world is becoming more technologically-based, and increasing, more and more fields (from healthcare to education to arts to publishing) will become or are already entirely reliant on software. Using is not enough. Being able to understand and imagine and create the environments are key.</p>

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Also don't forget that a Harvard degree in anything will get you hired anywhere (although it's also a question of where specifically you want to go!)...

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<p>As others have noted, this is completely untrue.</p>

<p>Many jobs and positions do require or prefer particular degrees, but more importantly, there are many, many factors determining whether you'll get hired besides the college on your resume (GPA, work experience, references, interview, test scores for those applying to graduate or professional schools...)</p>

<p>As someone who graduated Harvard in 2010, I know many graduates who had difficulty finding a job or getting the job they wanted.</p>

<p>I'm sorry for using the word anywhere - I wasn't thinking clearly, and was burning up a spare minute adding insight to eliana's question. Although I didn't say anywhere and everywhere.</p>

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<p>Like Admiral said, some have difficulty in finding the job they wanted. I was saying there is a strong difference in getting the job you want and a fine job in the mean time. This is based off of my own experience; I know of zero Harvard grads and friends who are out and out unemployed (then again, I'm not personal friends with even half the class! :p). I also heard (key word) that 100% of graduates were employed within two months of graduation. Of course this was back before any of this economic stuff happened. Teaching high school math is a fine paying job for living - it is a near certainty a Harvard graduate can rack up a job offer from a school in the country.</p>

<p>Also as I was (trying) to point out, there is a difference between a kid who comes out of Eastern-State Community College with a degree in underwater basket weaving who can't get a job anywhere, and someone who comes out of Yale studying Irish pop-culture (happened once).</p>

<p>Lastly, degrees that correspond to your prospective field aren't necessary many times. Wall Street is the one I'm most similar with - while I know this isn't true for others (such as medicine), most fresh-graduates do not have a degree in finance. At "this level" (not my words), smart people often learn what's needed on their own, in and out of school.</p>

<p>Hope this clears that up. Sorry for being cursory by just typing those two original sentences. g</p>