After reading an article on how to sell your useless degree after graduating, I started thinking about the fresh-faced students who are about to embark on living in what many people like to refer to as ‘the real world.’
I read American Studies at University. When it comes to useless degrees, it’s not the craziest, but it’s up there.
Most people would put this down to me not being smart enough to undertake either English or History. Some would say that this degree was a waste of my time and money, putting me in debt while fast-reducing my ability to get a job post-studies. Some might even say I should have forced myself to follow a more traditional path, keeping cultural studies to my free time.
Whilst reading American Studies, I learnt valuable lessons regarding research and writing, the impact popular culture has on the world we live in, and how to discuss different viewpoints without forcing your own upon your audience.
I spent 6 months in America, living in Knoxville, Tennessee for 5 months and travelling around the country afterwards. In this time I took up women’s studies and political film, went down the Grand Canyon, and went to a shooting range just across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Does any of this count in this ‘real world’ people talk about?
In a word, no. My degree became anecdotal; you are suddenly the person people want to talk to over drinks, not business meetings.
Don’t despair newly graduated students, you can do something about this stereotype – overturn it. The trick to doing a topic you enjoy at University, one that people don’t deem traditional or steady, is to know how to sell yourself and the benefits of your degree.
1. Be prepared to tackle people questioning and criticising your choice
Be honest with them. I chose my topic based on the fact I would have the chance to go abroad for 6 months. I enjoy watching films. Writing an essay on Family Guy seemed like fun. It’s good to stick to your guns and a high-quality employer should see that. Many will enjoy the creativity you’ll be able to bring to their team because you’ll be able to bring in a new and original viewpoint
2. Sell your extra-curricular activities
Whether you took on some volunteering or held down a part-time job for a period of time, sell this in alongside your degree. It’ll show that you were able to make time for other interests, have had experience in a workplace, and recognise the importance of expanding your skill set.
3. Do your research
This should be standard practice before going into any interview, but this can be a real winner when you’re trying to promote your unusual degree – do they have offices in a country you’ve visited? Is your interviewer a fan of a certain football team or film you’ve studied? Meet the team profiles are becoming increasingly prominent on company websites and are a good tool to utilise.
Above all, remember that you are just as valuable as the doctors and lawyers of this world. Everyone has their own background and own interests, and a good working environment needs a balance, one which you can be a part of.
Jessica Higham works in the marketing department of Sellick Partnership, a recruitment agency specialising in finance, procurement and legal sectors. Established in 2002, the firm has expanded to six offices, offering recruitment solutions nationwide.