– You have a forum for your broad range of interests.
– You are part of a small liberal arts college in the midst of a big institution.
– You know the other Humanities majors and have a sense of connection with them.
– You can take disparate elements and weave them into a cohesive whole.
The short answer: Anything!
The skills that you hone as a Humanities major are fundamentally transferable to a wide variety of industries and positions. These include critical thinking, independence of thought, intellectual curiosity, and effective research and communication skills (i.e. attentive reading, articulate verbal, and clear and persuasive writing skills). In addition, your interdisciplinary focus and ability to understand issues from different perspectives give you noteworthy advantages in most fields. You’ve been trained to look with a nuanced approach at complex aesthetic, theoretical, and societal issues and to interpret and draw conclusions from them. Your only hurdle is to make sure prospective employers recognize your adaptability and intellectual value.
– critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills
– effective and intelligent communication skills
– broadened perspective, ability to examine issues from different points of view
– ability to think creatively
– ability to analyze and synthesize information
– ability to connect diverse ideas (and to connect text to experience) according to various conceptual frameworks and with a nuanced understanding of related theoretical and societal issues
– ability to rethink ideas from different perspectives, to identify nuances involved, and to interpret and draw conclusions (while addressing how these come about and what they imply)
With your skill set and individualized coursework, you are prepared for a number of fields and positions, including museum or library work, grant writing, web design, education, journalism, communication, social or public service, and more (in public, private, and non-profit sectors). There are also research positions in a wide variety of fields. Moreover, many majors go on to graduate studies, including law school and medical school.
Little known fact: the medical field is increasingly realizing the importance of a humanistic, and hence more holistic, perspective. Harvard Medical School’s requirements for admission regarding studies in the humanities state that applicants should:
“Demonstrate aptitude in the biological and physical sciences during their undergraduate years, but not to the exclusion of the humanities and social sciences. (A study at Harvard Medical School has shown that students are successful in their medical studies regardless of undergraduate concentration, providing that they have had adequate science preparation. Students are urged to strive for a balanced and liberal education rather than specialized training. No preference is given to applicants who have majored in the sciences over those who have majored in the humanities.)” (Emphasis added.)
You have the easiest first question on any job interview: “What’s a Humanities major?” When you are answering that question:
– Take the time to explain the breadth of courses you have taken, the unique qualities of your two areas of emphasis, and the benefit of studying both in the context of the Humanities major.
– Emphasize the in-depth critical analysis within and the interdisciplinary nature of your HUMN courses and why these qualities are valuable.
– Examine the skills list (above) and stress the ones in which you excel.
– Point out any second majors or minors you completed.