What Can I Do With My Liberal Arts Degree?

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

Scott Dettman Featured on BBC Worklife

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

DEI Hiring Practices

Insights

What Can I Do With My Liberal Arts Degree?

Avenica

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

The Ultimate Workplace Dress Code Guide

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

Smart Casual

Smart Casual in a nutshell means casual with touches of business wear. It is one step more casual than Business Casual and one step more formal than Casual. Offices that look for Smart Casual as a standard are often looking for:

  • Dark denim, free of holes or rips + a blazer or blouse on top
  • Chinos, a skirt or dressier pants + a solid colored tee and accessories
  • Closed-toed shoes

Business Casual

Business Casual is a bit more tailored than Smart Casual and typically does not allow for denim. With this style attire, ties and blazers are not included. Think: dress pants, skirts and button-down tops and blazers without the formal elements.

Elements of Business Casual dress often include:

  • Dress pants/skirts/dresses
  • Blouse/button-up shirts/sweater
  • Closed-toed shoes

Business Professional

When you think Business Professional, the easiest way to imagine it would be straight out of a Mad Men episode… but 2021. Business Professional attire is commonly required in the banking, government and legal industries but not limited to them. It is the most formal of the three most-common dress-codes.

  • Business Professional attire includes:
  • Suit (jacket and pants/skirt)
  • Solid colored button-up top
  • Closed-toed shoes

As you can see, each dress-code has its own formula. The only constant among all of these? Closed-toed shoes. This is often not just a preference but a health and safety standard for many companies. When in doubt, ask your boss for their definition of the dress-code and ask for an example.

Working from home? That’s a whole other story but the basics remain true. Be sure what you wear meets your company’s policies and/or dress-code for what you can see on screen if utilizing video conferencing. From the waist down we are fans of sweatpants and fuzzy slippers.

Don’t forget to always iron or steam your clothes to make the ultimate impression. Happy outfit planning!

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

What LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Means

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

Mental Health Awareness

Insights

What Can I Do With My Liberal Arts Degree?

Lauren Olson

Vice President of Growth Strategy

Congratulations! You’ve graduated with your Liberal Arts degree and it’s time to enter the workforce. But what can you do with your degree?

We get asked this question routinely and our answer is always the same.

“So many things!”

A Liberal Arts degree is designed to provide scholars with a wide range of skills and experiences to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. This type of degree is comprised of the humanities, arts, and sciences. While some believe that this type of degree is less focused and therefore less valuable, we couldn’t disagree more.

In a job market like we have today, having a broad range of skills and the ability to think critically is often looked at favorably by employers. Especially those who are not looking for specific trade roles. If an employer has the option of hiring one person who could potentially advise, communicate, or collaborate across many areas of business effectively versus hiring multiple people with more specified skill sets, which do you think they would financially prefer?

So, what can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

Here are a few of the top roles we see our candidates considered and selected for:

  • Analyst
  • Behavioral Health Advocate
  • Business Analyst
  • Communications Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Representative
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Marketing Representative
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Project Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Statistician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer

More and more often we’ve also seen individuals with Liberal Arts degrees hired for more specialized or technical roles thanks to their ability to communicate complex topics and data with a wide array of individuals.

Some of these positions include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Engineer

This list is not a complete representation of where your Liberal Arts degree can take you on your career journey but paints a picture to show you just how you can apply it to a variety of industries and roles. The sky is the limit. We’re here to help you take the next step.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

What do diversity officers do for companies? – Teron Buford on WCCO

Insights

What Is a Chief Diversity Officer and Why Should You Have One at Your Organization?

Avenica

How can a chief diversity officer enhance your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts? Teron Buford, our VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, was on WCCO to talk about the value of having someone accountable for DEI. Watch the video and read on to learn more about the Chief Diversity Officer’s requirements and why hiring one can help your organization remain viable and successful.

What Is a Chief Diversity Officer?

Generally speaking, the Chief Diversity Officer’s responsibilities focus on steering an organization’s climate toward a more diverse and inclusive culture. This role can include a vast range of different expectations that can look different from workplace to workplace, but here are just a few common examples of Chief Diversity Officer responsibilities:

  • Developing and implementing training programs that support a climate of inclusivity
  • Advocating for diverse perspectives  within the company’s leadership team
  • Review and assess current DEI initiatives
  • Support or manage hiring and recruiting within the company
  • Cultivate a shift in the company’s culture
  • Strategic planning for long-term sustainable change

Why Hire a Chief Diversity Officer?

More than ever before, companies are being pushed to match their actions with their words. Simply saying you support diversity is no longer enough—and for good reason! As companies grow more diverse, those that fail to hire and empower folks from different backgrounds risk falling behind and losing their consumer support. And not only from a moral perspective; companies that factor in diverse points of view are better equipped to tailor their products and services to a wider range of people. Having an advocate within the organization to push for diverse hiring and provide a different perspective is an enormous asset to the future of a company’s success.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

Related Articles

Americans are working more each week during the pandemic | Scott Dettman on KARE11

Insights

What Is a Chief Diversity Officer and Why Should You Have One at Your Organization?

Avenica

How can a chief diversity officer enhance your company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts? Teron Buford, our VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, was on WCCO to talk about the value of having someone accountable for DEI. Watch the video and read on to learn more about the Chief Diversity Officer’s requirements and why hiring one can help your organization remain viable and successful.

What Is a Chief Diversity Officer?

Generally speaking, the Chief Diversity Officer’s responsibilities focus on steering an organization’s climate toward a more diverse and inclusive culture. This role can include a vast range of different expectations that can look different from workplace to workplace, but here are just a few common examples of Chief Diversity Officer responsibilities:

  • Developing and implementing training programs that support a climate of inclusivity
  • Advocating for diverse perspectives  within the company’s leadership team
  • Review and assess current DEI initiatives
  • Support or manage hiring and recruiting within the company
  • Cultivate a shift in the company’s culture
  • Strategic planning for long-term sustainable change

Why Hire a Chief Diversity Officer?

More than ever before, companies are being pushed to match their actions with their words. Simply saying you support diversity is no longer enough—and for good reason! As companies grow more diverse, those that fail to hire and empower folks from different backgrounds risk falling behind and losing their consumer support. And not only from a moral perspective; companies that factor in diverse points of view are better equipped to tailor their products and services to a wider range of people. Having an advocate within the organization to push for diverse hiring and provide a different perspective is an enormous asset to the future of a company’s success.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

Related Articles

Laying the Foundation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Insights

Laying the Foundation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Teron Buford

By: Teron Buford, VP Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Growing up as a Black male in inner-city Chicago, I experienced my fair share of hardships. One might think that, as opportunities presented themselves, things got easier. Not exactly. Laws of thermodynamics suggest that energy is never destroyed but is transferred from entity to entity. I think the same can be said about the struggles of people of color as they navigate the landscape of predominantly white educational and professional workspaces. The worry and anxiety shifted from my neighborhood to my classroom. From my classroom to my office. All along the way, the challenges never subsided; they morphed to fit my new landscapes.

I remember sitting in an English 101 course as we covered literature that focused on social injustice. This took place at a predominantly white college in St. Paul, Minnesota. We were reading a book in which the author purposely left behind her financial stability to explore what it might mean to live on minimum wage. From paycheck to paycheck. During one of our class discussions, a young woman raised her hand and matter-of-factly asked “why don’t people just save more of their money? If they just saved more money, they wouldn’t have to live like they do.” My blood boiled as my inner monologue argued with itself: “Wow! She clearly has no idea about the systems in place that impede financial mobility and financial security. Is it my job to educate her? Am I to be the spokesperson for a group of underserved, underrepresented, and clearly misunderstood people? If I raise my hand, am I going to find myself on an island, fighting a worthy but losing battle? What do I stand to gain if I speak up? What do I stand to lose if I don’t?” I gathered my thoughts, calmed my spirit, and raised my hand.

I remember sitting in a meeting with a former employer where we were looking for ways to bring greater access to a product. We discussed some of the feedback we’d received that claimed our processes were biased and skewed, our policies were rooted in oppression, and that we were effectively marginalizing an already over-marginalized population. We went around the table giving countless examples of our intentions and explaining why our operations needed to remain the same. Some scoffed at the notion that we were a part of the problem. They even pointed out ways in which we have provided the solution. After about 40 minutes of pacifying and justifying our perspectives, my inner monologue was at it again: “I mean, the feedback is making good points. How can so many people experience our product in the same negative way and be wholeheartedly wrong? I understand that our intentions are positive, but does that outweigh the actual impact? Ok, now this is high stakes. Speaking up could jeopardize my job. My income. My family’s finances. Is this my fight? Can someone else do it? Maybe I can send a softly worded email after the meeting? No. That won’t get it done.” I cleared my throat, collected my thoughts, tried to push aside the fear, and spoke my piece.

“Diversity” seems to be the new buzzword floating around the atmosphere. Organizations are scrambling to recruit new and diverse talent. Interestingly enough, I was on a call with a friend at a large organization the other day. He’d asked why most of his diverse employees were leaving the company after 2-3 years. He’d shared that they had solid compensation packages, fancy titles, and fulfilling job responsibilities. I asked about the company’s culture as it relates to equity and inclusion and, not to my surprise, he couldn’t speak to it fully. And that’s the issue: treating DEI as a numbers game will never pan out in the end. The environment matters. The culture of the company as it relates to belonging matters. And, if companies are ever going to get ahead of the curve, they’ll have to build environments that are intentionally conducive to respecting diversity, building equity, and living out inclusion.

For the longest time, we based the success of diversity initiatives on sheer numbers. “That company has XX% people of color and women, which means they’re doing well.” Today, we understand that the issue is a bit too complex for tally marks alone to tell the whole story. Diversity and inclusion, from my perspective, is cultivating an environment that is not only demographically representative of the greater population, but also encourages, empowers, and uplifts the voices of employees who have been historically under-represented, under-valued and, quite frankly, silenced. A commitment to living out these ideals should not only be reflected in a company’s mission, vision, and values, but should be genuinely felt across the company.

There is something to be said for companies that have paid more than just lip service to their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Creating positions, departments, and/or committees with the dedicated responsibilities of increasing diversity and inclusion within an organization is a step in the right direction. Each company, however, will have a different set of obstacles to overcome on their journeys towards creating diverse and inclusive environments and should look to their workforce to help them identify the gaps. At Avenica, for example, we’ve created a diversity board comprised of leaders from various departments who have united to create intentional company-wide learning opportunities. Each quarter has a theme around which topics will be introduced and each month has a dedicated learning goal. There’s a mix of readings, videos, interactive modules, and person-to-person conversations to help aid in the growth process. We will also be rolling out an anonymous feedback survey that will allow participants a safe space to provide input. Regardless of the approach, it cannot be stated enough that company-wide buy-in is integral in this process. Companies should intentionally work to ensure that all employees understand the value of a diverse and inclusive work environment.

All of this, of course, is easier said than done. The marathon of creating inclusive and welcoming spaces functions less as a one-person race and more like a relay; requiring a concerted effort from all involved. No one has all the answers. For more help with laying the foundation for DEI work, I’d recommend starting (but not stopping) with the resources below.

Stay strong.

 

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

Related Articles

The Underemployment Trap: Why Your First Job Is Critical

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The Underemployment Trap: Why Your First Job Is Critical

Avenica

LinkedIn

Employment rates in the U.S. have risen every year since the Great Recession of 2008–2009. And today unemployment is at near-historic lows. While that’s great news for many job seekers, hiding behind those gaudy numbers is a phenomenon that’s far less positive—one that impacts young job seekers most of all.

It’s underemployment.

Underemployment happens when someone is in a job for which they are overqualified—the typical situation is a bachelor’s graduate in a role that doesn’t require a degree. Consider the cliché of the Art History major working as a barista. Or a “foot-in-the-door” job, such as an IT grad working the help desk or a sports performance major folding towels at a health club. Underemployment also happens when someone would prefer to work full time but can only secure part-time employment.

First-job underemployment has lasting effects

Where you start has a big impact on where you end up. A 2018 study found that 43% of new college grads were underemployed in their first job—earning an average of $10,000 less than grads who find employment appropriate for their qualifications. And this wage gap compounds year after year, so workers who are underemployed at the start of their careers are more likely to remain that way, even decades later—stuck in a rut of lower-paying, lower-prestige jobs.

Underemployment obviously has negative consequences for individual workers, but there are big ripple effects as well. Underemployed workers will have less income overall, which means they may be less likely to pay off their student loans, buy a home, go on vacation, or go out to dinner—all of which impacts the health of the broader economy.

Underemployment seems to be growing

A certain amount of underemployment will always be with us. Some new grads take more time to find their career path. Others may choose careers that don’t fit their area of study. Still others may lack the motivation or interest in pursuing roles appropriate for their credentials.

Although researchers and experts differ on the exact numbers around underemployment, most agree that it’s growing. Why?

Multiple factors are at work. College enrollment has grown since 2000—which means more new graduates are pursuing a finite pool of jobs. Older generations of workers are holding onto their jobs longer, further reducing the number of higher-skill positions. The trend toward contract, gig, or part-time roles means many recent graduates find themselves with less than a full-time work. And the skills required for today’s jobs are more complex and changing rapidly, which means many graduates are leaving school without the abilities employers need.

Safeguarding your career against underemployment

The rise of underemployment is definitely cause for concern. But there are things you can do to protect yourself and your career. Here are just a few:

  • Select the right major. When it comes to underemployment, your field of study makes a big difference. The fields least likely to be underemployed include engineering, computer science, nursing, and education. The areas of highest underemployment? General liberal arts, performing arts, security and law enforcement, leisure and hospitality, and fitness. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York keeps fascinating stats on underemployment by major.
  • Get real about what employers need. Whatever your area of study, students or recent grads shouldn’t assume their degree will guarantee a job in their field. Do your research on specific jobs, salaries, skills, and employer needs in your profession of interest.
  • Seize opportunities to upskill. Employers still value the communication, analytical, and critical thinking skills that college graduates have. But hiring managers often look for specific, technical abilities as well. Building these “last mile” skills—whether through online tools, volunteering, or technical classes—can make all the difference.
  • Explore Avenica. We don’t like to toot our own horn, but preventing underemployment is kind of a big thing for us. Avenica specifically works with college graduates to help them identify their career goals, interests, and skills and then match them to opportunities that are the right fit.

Whether you’re still in college, mere months away from graduation, or already out in the working world, underemployment may be lurking. But there are steps you can take to keep it at bay. Educate yourself about this trend and you’ve taken a big step toward building a successful career for the long term.

About Avenica

Through conversation, high-impact coaching, and best-in-class support, we translate and meet the needs of our client partners by identifying and transforming potential into high-performing professionals. At Avenica, we are working from the inside out to embrace diverse thought and perspectives while actively working to dismantle systems of oppression and implicit bias. With a deeply-held belief in human potential, we transform lives and enable organizations to achieve new heights.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to develop or hire your workforce, let’s talk. If you’re a job seeker, please join our network to connect with an Avenica Account Manager.

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