I’ve taken some liberal arts classes. But what has served me the most in my career so far has been my internships and PR classes. I hardly think that makes me a “claptrap.” Each young professional has their own set of experiences giving them an education. I’ve learned a lot through my various experiences (from carriage driver to advertising sales and writing contracts for a company to building Web sites). My experiences have taught me a lot.
So do liberal arts matter?
A Patriot-News op-ed said, “The most straightforward answer is liberal arts colleges, at their best, provide an exceptionally effective learning environment for developing the kind of intellectual power and propensity for action that the world needs to tackle the daunting challenges we face…many CEOs are looking for employees with the attributes that a liberal arts education instills: critical thinking, clear communication, collaboration, an appreciation for diverse points of view, the ability to approach a problem from multiple perspectives, ethical judgment and lifelong learning skills.”
So should a young professional take liberal arts courses?
If you have the money and time to pursue liberal arts classes, by all means do it. But, I’d honestly rather read and learn on my own time. I’ve read books on various random subjects including criminology, archaeology, art and more.
But, remember to spend time developing yourself into a marketable candidate. Focus on skills you need in the workplace (check out “5 Must-Have Transferable Skills for Entry-Level Job Seekers” by Heather Huhman).
“When I was at Burson-Marsteller, almost none of our interns and entry-level professionals had a liberal arts education. As a hiring manager, experience vastly outweighs your specific degree,” said Huhman, who is an experienced hiring manager and founder of ComeRecommended.com.
While I’m not discounting the value of the liberal arts classes, I think “intellectual power” and other great skills can be developed in other ways. I also feel that the attributes CEO’s are looking for can be developed in other ways. In fact, many of these attributes had already began to be developed from the way I was raised as a child. Additional skills have been developed when I’ve worked a variety of jobs (I’ve worked at large stables, been a carriage driver, and worked in sales, PR and advertising).
What do you think? Has a liberal arts education helped you? Or, have you been successful without? Additionally, what do you do as a professional to develop the attributes CEO’s are looking for?