What Can I Do with a Non-Technical Degree?
By The College Advisor
Students from all majors seek out their college career center to ask, "What can I
do with a major in...?" This is usually not a problem for student studying engineering,
architecture, or accounting. But where do students in social science and liberal arts
Surprising to some, it often does not matter to most employers what your major was.
They look for skills that set you apart from other candidates. Today's work environment
needs employees who can communicate effectively and write clearly. There is a great need
for employees who can work well in a team and have respect for diversity of cultures.
Employers also need people who are reliable and trustworthy and do what they say they
will do. Employers need people who can research and analyze data, who can think
critically and creatively, and above all, who can take initiative and get things done.
Your college experience can help you build these qualities and the career center can
help you verbalize and write about these skills. Which of these skills come naturally
to you? Which can you improve?
Verbal and Written Communication: If you scored E on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter,
verbal communication likely comes easily to you - but are you easily understood and have
you learned to listen to others? Those who score I are often good listeners, but may
need to polish up their verbal communication. Good writers can be found in both groups,
but the skill needs training and not everyone likes to write. If you're not a writer,
emphasize the other skills that you have.
Teamwork and Respecting Diversity: Usually the Idealists are the best for working
effectively in teams and valuing diversity, but the skill is not reserved to them.
There are good books about working in teams if you want to improve your skills. Having
a diverse culture is no longer limited to the coastal cities. You need more than simply
tolerance of others different from you; you need to find ways of appreciating those who
are different. Knowing Keirsean Temperament theory can be a good start in helping you
understand people of different personality types. Now what can you do to learn to
appreciate people with different cultural backgrounds?
Reliability and Trustworthiness: Guardians are the most aware of being trustworthy
and reliable and keeping their word, but they don't have a corner on the market. How
are you doing in this area and what can you do to improve?
Research, Analyze Data, Think Critically and Creatively: Those who score T usually
have an advantage over the F's in analyzing data and thinking critically. But F's may be
even more dogged in research if the topic is highly valued. Creativity can be shown by many
different types and can be too narrowly defined. Having a good color sense and making
the environment look pleasant and keeping people comfortable shows creativity. Designing
an improved process for getting a job done is creative. Usually something creative for
you is easy, but hard for someone else. Ask your friends how they see you being creative
and adding something new and effective to the pot.
Taking Initiative and Getting Things Done: The J's tend to have an edge over the P's in
getting things to completion, but the P's tend to reach out more than the J's and may show
more pizzazz and get more credit for initiative. How do you see yourself in this area?
How do your friends see you? Are there areas in which you could improve?
So what if your degree is non-technical? Here's a list of job titles that have been held
by people with non-technical degrees: Advertising Account Executive, Air Traffic Controller,
Artist, Auditor, Bank Manager, Business Systems Analyst, Buyer, Child Welfare Officer,
Communications Specialist, Computer Systems Specialist, Copywriter, Counselor, Customer
Service Representative, Development Manager, Editor, Employee Relations Specialist,
Engineering Planner, Financial Consultant, Graphic Designer, Hotel Manager, Human
Resource Specialist, Industrial Designer, International Economist, Interpreter/Translator,
Journalist, Lawyer, Legislative Researcher, Librarian, Lobbyist, Management Consultant,
Market Researcher, Marketing Representative, Museum Coordinator, Non-Profit Foundation
Manager, Paralegal, Photographer, Probation Officer, Product Specialist, Production
Manager, Public Relations Specialist, Publishing Manager, Quality Assurance Manager,
Recreation Director, Research Analyst, Retail Manager, Sales Representative, Social
Worker, Speech Pathology, State Representative, Stockbroker, Strategic Planner,
Systems Analyst, Tax Consultant, Teacher, Technical Writer, Therapist, Transportation
Specialist, Underwriter, City Planner, Writer.
Did any of the job titles surprise you? The bottom line is to complete your degree
and network into the area where you'd like to be employed. Emphasize the qualities that
show the talents that employers need. Think outside the box. Emphasize that you know
the organizational needs and that you are prepared to work for the organizational benefit.
Show that you have done in your life will be an asset to that organization. Never think "I
have a degree in _____, so that is all I can ever do." The world of work is more open
than you may give it credit for.