Job focus holds potential for CLA

Camille Galles

As a College of Liberal Arts student, I’ve heard, “So, what kind of job can you get with that degree?” more times than I can count.

But new CLA Dean John Coleman is using the newly unveiled “CLA Roadmap” to make that question a core component of a liberal arts education.

An increased focus on workforce preparation can revitalize CLA, as it doesn’t extinguish the passions that drove students toward the liberal arts in the first place. A meaningful career that pays family-supporting wages remains one of the best ways to contribute to society.

However, the security of employment creates legitimate outlets for people to pursue their passions. More people doing what makes them happy will change the world. Many people traditionally describe the college years as a time to “discover yourself.” As CLA recognizes, this journey of discovery shouldn’t be separate from job hunting.

Increasing career advising for CLA students, as the new road map describes, could help students find careers that make them come alive. These strategies will be effective as long as they don’t prioritize an economic bottom line over everything else.

Critical and creative thinking are hallmarks of a liberal arts education and are the skills that can transform a job into a vehicle to improve the world. The liberal arts are supposed to be different from fields of study that have clearer career paths. Their worth lies in their difference, and CLA must preserve that.

A career-oriented education approach doesn’t have to strip the liberal arts of their creativity and curiosity in the name of making money. Done right, such an education can provide students with the tools they need to turn their passions into legitimate opportunities to make the world a better place.