Re-dressing your Liberal Arts Degree

College students often find that pursuing a major gives them the freedom they never had in high school. The only downside for students pursuing their academic passion is the possibility of a lousy job market. But the prospect of job search angst shouldn’t dissuade anyone from following their heart. There are a couple steps you can take during your undergraduate years, or for that matter, after you’ve graduated, to make sure you are an attractive candidate, despite your degree.

First, you need to position yourself for a back-up plan. You want to pursue anthropology but you may not be able to get that job at National Geographic- or anywhere viable in the field. So supplement your major with courses that would be attractive to a recruiter for more mainstream positions.

You will need to determine what your back-up mainstream position is. If you would consider working in the technology field, you will need to show an aptitude for analytics, design, programming. If it’s marketing, you should seek out courses in business, marketing and management. If you might consider finance, you will have to prove your analytical abilities and should therefore add math, intro engineering or science courses to your schedule.

And no matter whether you go into art history, social-network marketing, or professional skateboarding, you should absolutely take Accounting– and the more the better. Accounting is the transcendent language of business. If you are a fashion designer, you need to stay on budget, if you are a rock star, you need to make sure your business manager isn’t screwing you. Accounting will be useful, no matter what profession you choose. And a background in accounting helps convince most recruiters that you have the fundamental skills to start your position.

So go ahead, major in whatever you want. But make sure your transcript shouts of marketable skills in at least one mainstream line of business. If you’re already out of school and looking to switch out of your initial career choice, take some classes which will demonstrate expertise required in your desired industry. Then you will be an appropriate candidate who just happens to have a more interesting background than most.