By Justine D’Souza
World Education Services
Liberal arts majors don’t always have a straightforward career path, but here are some tips to make sure that you can study what you love and still find a good job:
1. Use your campus resources
All universities have a career services office, experienced deans, far-reaching alumni networks, and workforce-oriented events. You can see if they offer activities and reading materials tailored to your major field of interest, or any useful contacts to put you in touch with. Take advantage of these resources because they can help you determine your profession and prepare you for the job search.
2. Never miss an opportunity to network
It’s especially important for international students to obtain professional contacts because they usually have fewer connections in the U.S. than in their home countries. Schedule informational interviews, volunteer, and be sure to find at least one mentor.
Eunji Kim, who studied journalism and media studies at Rutgers University and now works as a producer for KBS World Radio News, says, "I really benefited from meeting people from the Asian American Journalists Association because they had connections in Asia, where I later relocated."
3. Understand how to maximize the skills from your degree
Liberal arts courses require students to read extensively, write convincing texts, and think critically about societal issues. Make sure that you can show how your courses helped you to do all of these things. To become a more well-rounded employment candidate, you can also earn certifications or learn a technical skill like software or coding.
4. Get as much work experience as possible
Learning from different roles and organizations will help you determine the best career. Work part-time jobs, internships, and externships in fields that interest you. Interviewers often ask candidates about previous workplace responsibilities, so having that experience will help you give good answers and even lead to new possibilities.
Ashiana Usman, who studied psychology at Rutgers University and currently works as a marketing manager, says, "The people that I have gotten to work with always vouched for me. The way I got the position that I’m in is because I got to know many different people within the company I was at … someone had a connection to a sister company that was looking for a new employee. A coworker introduced me and put in a good word."
5. Research international student regulations in advance
You need to understand employment visa rules so you can explain the options to potential employers. Talk to the international student office at your school and learn about companies that have sponsored H-1B visas. You can also look into Optional Practical Training, and consider working in your home country’s American embassy.
6. Keep your options open, and apply to many positions
Even if you feel like you’re a perfect fit for a job, there are never guarantees. Be open to diverse employment possibilities, and send your résumé to several organizations.
7. Use your international experience to your advantage
Not everyone speaks your native language and has your transnational education credentials. Leaving your country to study in the U.S. demonstrates that you’re adaptable, flexible and capable of working within different cultures and systems. Show how that will make you an excellent employee!
Justine D'Souza works as a Credential Examiner for the Evaluations Department at WES. She holds a B.A. in French with minors in International Business and Political Economy, Organizational Leadership, and Planning and Public Policy. She has experience teaching in both the U.S. and France and has been passionate about international education since her youth.