CLA: general skills are as marketable as major

Employers are looking for applicants with diverse interests.

by Jia Guo

The College of Liberal Arts is sending a new message to students struggling to find jobs: General skills are just as important as a major.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced in September that the national unemployment rate dropped from 9.8 percent to 9.1 percent.

According to a report from the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute, total college hiring increased by 3 percent from 2010 to 2011 âÄî a significant increase from last yearâÄôs hiring forecast. The report stated that this year, more than 1,600 companies would consider students from any major for a job.

Paul Timmins, career services coordinator at CLA, said instead of focusing on majors, employers are more flexible. They are looking more broadly for general skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving.

He said that major is only one factor considered when employers are trying to land the right candidate for the position. Many other factors like personal interests and activities outside of class will come into play to determine whether someone gets hired.

âÄúIt is not that certain majors are tough for students to land a job,âÄù he said. âÄúStudents in all majors who are doing well both in and out of class are best of luck to find a job.âÄù

With 16,716 students, CLA is the largest college at the University of Minnesota.

CLA Career Services provides employment information as well as job hunting skills for students by holding internship fairs on a regular basis, offering résumé and cover letter workshops and setting up online communication platforms between employers and students.

âÄúEvery student is unique, and [their] major is part of what they are,âÄù Timmins said. âÄúWe are helping them tell their stories.âÄù

Ashley Kelnhofer, an economics senior, said she was not certain about her future career because majors in her field can take different paths.

âÄúI did not plan to find a job after graduation,âÄù she said. âÄúIt seems like I can do anything in the economics field.âÄù

She said she utilized CLAâÄôs career service center to get advice on resume writing and handouts about interviewing skills.

From freshmen to seniors, Timmins said he encourages students to connect with the career service to figure out their interests and career plans.

âÄúStudents should take advantage of the resources.âÄù