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Career Destinations for Liberal Arts Graduates

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Reported by Dr Sherah Wells, summarised by Miss Ande Milintye

At the University of Warwick, we are committed to ensuring that our Liberal Arts graduates are fully prepared for a variety of careers paths and are able to take advantage of the many exciting opportunities the degree can open up. Dr Sherah Wells, a researcher and lecturer here at the University of Warwick, has researched the various destinations for Liberal Arts graduates, as well as potential work placement opportunities our prospective students might undertake.

Dr Wells has found that sources emphasise the importance of critical thinking skills and ability to approach ‘big questions’ that Liberal Arts degrees provide as the main appeal to employers across various industries. Thus, Dr Wells reports that our graduates would mostly be suitable for such graduate positions in areas such as administration/management, consulting, business, healthcare, heritage, marketing, media, politics, social care, law, sustainability, teaching, and many more.

Career Destinations

Administration/Management

For those interested in Arts, there are plenty of opportunities to develop a career as an arts manager/administrator. The position requires good communication and organisational skills, and involves organising events and managing the day-to-day activities of charities and businesses. Work in this industry could be combined with a postgraduate degree in Business.

Those with strong analytical skills and commercial awareness could make great management consultants, especially if they thrive working in a team and have attention for detail. Every year, there are local and global consultancy graduate schemes on offer in both small and large consulting firms.

Liberal Arts graduates are also encouraged to consider technology companies as a potential career destination, particularly in the US. The technology sector values students who are able to approach complex questions from multiple critical perspectives, which helps balance the viewpoints presented by those with technical degrees, as well as drive projects forward and connect with customers. Work placement opportunities currently link technology with marketing, sales, management, and other areas.

Business

There are many areas within the business industry that are popular with Liberal Arts students, such as Finance and Accounting, Brokerage, Securities, Investments, E-Commerce, and Entrepreneurship. Many Warwick students go on to be trading analysts; however, in order to progress in this field they will need a higher degree such as an MBA.

Health and Food

Students with a specialized interest in Food Security and Life Sciences may be attracted to the positions of a nutritionist, biotechnologist, drama therapist, healthcare assistant, or in the field of pharmaceuticals.

A nutritionist could either work in the public sector or privately. Education campaigns and food labelling are both important for food security, but students interested in such a career may choose to pursue a PhD first.

Those who want to pursue the career of a biotechnologist might choose to work in healthcare (combatting disease), the environment (seeking to reduce a company’s carbon footprint), or find new food sources (can link with interests in Food Security). Most jobs in biotechnology require a postgraduate degree, whilst research positions require a PhD. This is an opportunity for someone with interests in life sciences, sustainability, and food security to enter the health industry.

The role of a drama therapist would allow students to combine an interest in science and theatre, or art and life sciences. A recognized postgraduate degree is generally required and work experience either in psychology or social work is encouraged.

Many opportunities in the field of pharmaceuticals require a postgraduate degree, but there are positions in sales, marketing and others which may be available for graduates or as work placements.

Heritage

Those who have an interest in history might find the job of an archivist or librarian appealing; moreover the job of an archivist could quite easily stretch to ecological conservation and other specialist areas. A recognized postgraduate qualification is needed in archives and/or record management which is recognized by the Archived and Records Association.

Marketing

Such industries as Sales, Advertising or Public Relations could be appealing to those students who are interested in working in areas related to Marketing. Dr Wells’ research shows that data analysis skills appear to be highly desirable in said fields.

Media

A Liberal Arts degree gives students an opportunity to learn skills that are highly valued in various jobs in the Media industry. Many students choose to pursue a career in Journalism (print, radio, TV) and Publishing.

Politics

There are local, regional, and national opportunities for graduates to get involved in Politics. Those who want to try out their hand at politics can find work placement opportunities with local councillors, MPs, and MEPs. Such placements might propel students directly into pursuing political office or set them on the path for a career in campaigning which might include working for political parties or third sector organizations.

Social Care

Liberal Arts students may also consider working in Counselling/Psychotherapy, Social Work or as a spiritual leader.

In order to become a counsellor or a psychotherapist, students will need to complete a certificate accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Becoming a social worker requires a postgraduate degree. Warwick currently offers an MA in Social Work. The student does not necessarily has to have work experience in social work – they may have experience in working as a teaching assistant in a special needs classroom or as a social worker’s assistant.

Those who are considering being a spiritual leader will be required to undertake some form of training unless they do an additional degree in Theology, regardless of their faith. With that in mind, students could be offered the opportunity to undertake work experience in a spiritual setting. Such a position might also be applicable for those wishing to go into social work.

Social Justice

Some students may like to consider a career in Social Justice, namely in Human Rights or Law.

Human Rights is a fairly new and evolving sector but one that might particularly appeal to our students. Internships in marketing, social media, fundraising, and grant writing would be particularly useful if a student chose this area.

Another popular career choice for Liberal Arts graduates is Law, in which case work placement opportunities with local law firms would be suitable. Warwick does not currently offer a law conversion course, but this would be the next step for those interested in entering the profession.

Sustainability

Students interested in the fields of climate change or sustainability may be suitable for the roles of policy advisers, campaigners, and administrators in the field.

Teaching

Liberal Arts graduates with an interest in teaching may consider applying for the TeachFirst programme, which offers to take part in the Leadership Development Programme, or offer a Master’s in Educational Leadership through TeachFirst and Warwick. According to the GEMS report, most students who have gone into teaching in the past few years have used the TeachFirst route.

Students may also teach English as a foreign language, or consider teaching in technology companies.

Third Sector

Many of the fields listed above are blending with the Third Sector which makes it one of the most versatile fields. Students may consider work placements in such organisations as National Trust, English Heritage, Dogs Trust, Guide Dogs and Careers for the Common Good. Previous graduates have gone on to obtaining positions such as Fundraising Assistant, but there are various other jobs that our students may be interested in.

Translation and Interpretation

This field is slightly more specialised than those listed above, as it requires knowledge of a foreign language, which, whilst available at Warwick, is not compulsory to Liberal Arts students. However, with this knowledge, there are several careers which could be coupled with various other skills our students will be able to learn whilst doing this degree, such as International business, software translation, foreign language teaching, and translation within the human rights field, social work, or government.