In the Liberal Arts school, we don’t train for a career; we train for a life, or so the saying goes. What often gets lost in this discussion, however, is that a career is a significant part of life. Sartre is only going to hurt you when you’re broke and feeling worthless. If looking to eventually leave academia, liberal arts students need to start preparing their exit strategy from day one.
This one’s for the freshmen: Go to every career fair. Every single one. Not because you are going to get the job. You probably won’t even get an internship your first go around. Go to learn what the real world is looking for. Your professor will ask about philosophical theories and how they frame the world around us. Recruiters will ask about their framework and how you will fit in. If you don’t explicitly know, you will be turned away. Go early on in your college career so you can have this experience as a learning student, rather than a senior facing the pressures of graduation. Go so you can be rejected and still have time to adapt.
Graduation seems eons away for those first stepping foot on the Forty Acres, but it sneaks up quickly. The conversation about the purpose of college, whether to develop students as moral individuals or train them for future careers, is unending. And frankly, no one has the answer. What I do know is that no one will pay you merely for being well rounded.
Haight is an associate editor.