Career Tip of the Month: Plan and Market Your Degree Effectively

Both Human Development and Psychology are liberal arts degrees, much like History, English, or Political Science; these are programs that are intended to equip you with a broad range of critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills that may be helpful in a diverse range of careers. They are different from degrees in professional programs, such as Accounting, Education, or Social Work, which are degrees designed to prepare you for a specific career path. Those with liberal arts majors may go on to pursue a number of different job options. In 2009 alone, some of our alums took their first jobs as personal bankers, psychometrists, community relations specialists, after school program coordinators, store managers, line therapists, and pre-school teachers. That does not mean, however, that your Human Development or Psychology major automatically prepares you for all of these jobs. In fact, the great news about a liberal arts degree is that it gives you options. The burden that comes with that, though, is that you must select specific classes and gain other relevant experience (e.g., jobs, volunteer work, internships) that makes you marketable for the jobs you might wish to pursue. For example, a student who eventually wants to work in human resources would likely also minor or double-major in Business and would be sure to take classes like Organizational and Personnel Psychology. He or she would also want to gain employment experience in the business world and/or to obtain a human resources internship. On the other hand, a student who hoped to pursue a career in social services would probably take relevant classes like Counseling Across the Lifespan and obtain part-time work at a local human services agency, such as a homeless shelter. Either student might also decide to increase his or her marketability with a minor in another language, such as Spanish and by pursuing electives (e.g., teaching assistantship) and co-curricular activities (officer in a student organization, Student Ambassador) that demonstrate leadership and strong interpersonal and communication skills. To get a better sense of the types of careers students pursue with their bachelor’s degrees in Human Development and Psychology, check out the annual survey Career Services conducts of our new graduates and click on a year under “Survey Results by Major”. Remember that Career Services can also help you as you consider how best to make yourself marketable for specific careers. Your academic advisor can also assist you with relevant course selection.