Think Your Liberal Arts Major Won’t Get You A Job? Humanities Ambassadors Disagree

The concern with not finding jobs after college haunts us starting senior year of high school until we find a decent job. And when we’re majoring in the humanities all those people asking ‘what are you gonna do with that?,’ they overwhelm, offend and confuse most of us.

However, there are a lucky few students who are proud to be humanities majors. Stephanie Lam, a sophomore majoring in English Literature, said she’s “not at all” concerned with what she will do after graduation.

“I knew what I wanted to do since I was thirteen,” she said, “I’m basically going to either be an editor in a publishing company or write for a fashion magazine. And of course all of that will be in conjunction with me being a novelist.”

And when someone asks her the what are you gonna do with that question she’s ready to answer.

“I probably would tell them that I’m passionate about it and that it’s actually quite beneficial to everyone because  you can’t only have the technical people. There are also the people who want to inspire others with words, and those who want to know a little bit of everything.”

But apparently professors are aware that some, unlike Lam, do fear not being able to find a job with a B.A in English.

“Every single professor in the department is actually stressing that point,” she said referring to the usefulness of the major.

Not every arts major is as proud and secure as Stephanie Lam. Mark Alexander is a sophomore majoring in Global Liberal Studies and  History. Mark said he is “always concerned” with what he’s going to do when he graduates.

“Unemployment is a worry of mine, but after I graduate from NYU I’m thinking of going to grad school either for a law degree or for a PhD in History,” he said.

He wants to be an active researcher, to teach History in University level, and maybe work in some form of think tank. He said that if he were only doing Global Liberal Studies he would be even more worried.

The NYU Humanities Ambassadors Club intends to deal with the issue of undergrad’s bewilderment when answering the what are you gonna do with that question. Their objective is to “strengthen the voice and identity of the humanities undergraduate student community, with a special focus on exploring how a humanities education can prepare students for a wide range of successful careers.”

Ravi Persuad, the club’s founder and a senior in CAS, said “I’m a History and classics major but I also want to go to law school. So when I would talk to people and I would say what my majors were, they would look at me like ‘oh…what are you gonna do with that.’ But then I would say that I want to go to law school and they would be like ‘oh oh oh you know what you’re doing something useful with your life.’ And I didn’t like that. I mean I think there are many valid careers I can pursue even if I don’t go to law school. I can be an archivist, I can be a teacher, I can go to business, I can be a paralegal.”

Community Manager of the Club Alex Braverman added “The response to being a humanities major is always sort of negative so part of the thing we wanted to do was like creating awareness that humanities isn’t a poor choice or a dumb choice. It’s just as valid as any other career option.”

This semester is the first one in which the club is up and running. On Wednesday evening they hosted an event that featured four panelists with successful humanities careers.

According to the sign-in sheets, 102 students attended the event.. Some of them out of passion, others out of fear and curiosity about what professionals had to say to calm them down, and most of them out of both. Maybe some attended because of the free food, too. The event was also recorded; unfortunately the refreshments couldn’t translate over the Internet.

The panelists introduced themselves and then sat on different tables with students to answer their questions. Students switched tables every 15 minutes to talk to other panelists. They appeared to be satisfied by having professionals tell them what they could do with their majors.

“We encourage anybody who is an undergraduate and thinks he or she can contribute and benefit from the club to join us,” Alex Taylor, co-president of the club and CAS sophomore, said.

“If there’s that student who’s pre-med or science major but does have a passion for the humanities that they’re not able to explore in their classes, this can be an outlet for them,” Carly Krakow, Gallatin sophomore and the club’s vice-president, said.

They are planning on moving forward to define the club by more than only events.

“We’re in talks about what we’re going to do next and we have a lot of exciting ideas. It’ll be a mixture of events of sort of collaborative projects, maybe a publication,” Taylor said.

So if you’re worried about your major and your career options, or if your parents and friends are asking you what are you gonna do with that, maybe joining this club will help you feel a little more at ease.



    Share Your Thoughts


  1. Nooby Dooby says

    One reason why people do these majors before graduate school/professional school is because they are much easier than math/science oriented majors and they require quite a bit less abstraction. This is coming from someone who will be getting a BS and a BA and a lot of students, generally speaking (there are exceptions) can not handle STEM majors or are offput by low grades. We have a dearth of individuals in this country who are willing to go into STEM majors simply because they do not want to trample their GPA. These are my thoughts.

  2. Julia Zimmerman says

    I’m a “STEM” major (physics) and it’s not exactly lucrative, unless you plan to go into medicine/health, which any humanities major can do too. So it doesn’t really matter what you study in undergrad, unless you plan to go into a field that requires a specific degree, like Nursing. Just study whatever you want and don’t go into a ridiculous amount of debt for it.

  3. Jules Mansfield says

    I attended this event and it was great! I’m a Nursing student, and I did not feel it was irrelevant at all. The diverse range of speakers and the informal setting really made it worthwhile to attend. They showed me that being a STEM major also doesn’t stop me from being involved in the Humanities. I want to see more events like this!

  4. Sourabh Nayyar says

    Well,after going through this article, i find similarities now in the case of US and back in India, as im doing my majors in political science(honours) from University of Delhi, the situation for the students is the same, we often find people seeing a liberal art student as a non professional and an underachiever in life, as getting the jobs and career after this field of study is a bit difficult, but people don’t understand that every person has have their own interest and the follow accordingly, the only scenario in this field is that you won’t gonna be able to find a lucrative job at the entry level, but if you are for this creative side of yours and keep oneself highly motivated; the life after graduation; masters or; Phd will take you to height’s :) and on a lighter note ” we are no less than any other hard working and career oriented student as people think of “.