You Can Be Successful With A Liberal Arts Degree

Posted on Mar 28th, 2017 | Career

Like many college freshmen, I started college without a major. The practical side of me was inclined to choose something like finance, figuring it might increase my chances of actually getting a job after graduation. But then I realized — I kind of hate math. I’ve just never been a numbers person, and I didn’t want to spend four years of college focusing on material I’d probably find frustratingly challenging and dull.

At the start of my sophomore year, I decided to pursue a major I knew I’d both enjoy and be good at: creative writing. When I told my parents, they were less than thrilled, and in a way, I kind of didn’t blame them. After all, while it seemed like an awesome idea in theory, there was the aftermath to think about. Would majoring in creative writing render me completely and utterly unemployable upon graduation? Would I be qualified to do anything … real?

Surprisingly, majoring in creative writing was more challenging than I initially anticipated. Many of my workshop classes were limited to five or six students, which meant I had to audition for most upper-level courses, and with that came the risk of not getting in. Thankfully I was accepted to the classes I needed, but I found myself repeatedly faced with writer’s block throughout my senior year, during which I was expected to churn out both an extensive poetry anthology and a 100-page memoir among other assignments.

The Working World
Once I graduated college, my creative writing major came in handy in helping me craft what I thought was a pretty respectable resume. But for a while, that was all my major seemed to be good for. Companies weren’t exactly hiring writers left and right, and magazines wanted people who studied journalism, not creative writing, which, in my case at least, was far more general.

I was beginning to lose hope when an opportunity arose to interview for an investor relations position at a hedge fund. The firm wanted someone with strong writing skills who understood financial concepts — and thankfully, that was me. Since I’d spent the summer before college working at an investment bank, where I was tasked with proofreading tons of financial documents, I’d grown familiar with many financial topics, though the fact that I’d opted to minor in business also helped.

After working at the hedge fund, I branched out into the freelance world. I snagged a few steady online writing gigs and quickly found a niche in content and product development. In fact, what was supposed to be a temporary content development job at an electronics company turned into a longer-term role in which I actually got to design toys. After that, I was hired by an online marketing company and put in charge of content.

When I had kids and the time came to trade in full-time work for part-time gigs, I was able to pick back up on the freelance front, and these days, I work as much as possible but mostly on my own schedule. In hindsight, majoring in creative writing was actually a smart move because it set the stage for a flexible career that allows me to balance work and family life. Had I majored in something like finance, I’d perhaps be making more money (probably a lot more), but I don’t think I’d be as happy.

So to all the people who mocked or lectured me about my supposedly useless major, there you have it: I may not have chosen the most lucrative subject to study, but it wound up paying off in more ways than one.