In a recent study, the New York Fed said that only 25% of people get jobs in their majors. As a recent graduate with an integrative studies degree, that was a relief to hear. I studied so many things here at UNT because I loved knowing a little bit of everything! When it came to the job market though, I figured out that I don’t have these weird certifications or years of experience in this one certain thing, and it made me feel ineligible for these jobs I know I would be good at.
So how do I tell employers “hey, look at me! I can really do this job!” without getting a whole new degree? I show them. When painters showcase their work, they don’t write a two-sheet piece of paper of all their credentials as an artist. They display their work. They put it out there, in a portfolio or in a show, so that people can really see what they’ve been able to accomplish. It makes total sense! You wouldn’t ask an art student to just write a bullet point about their art. You’d want to see it, ESPECIALLY before buying it, and I believe (and it’s becoming more and more true) that’s what all employers want. Sure, for our first and second jobs, it might be nice to have pristine, black and white resume with a few choice words pulled from the job description and a nice GPA towards the header, but places offering careers are starting to ask for much more.
The founder of Headlight, a new hiring platform, got his first job at Etsy as a programmer by literally programming new features for the site. When I worked for the city, they wanted their candidates for a communication specialist to create a mini campaign as part of their interview. When I finally got my job a UNT with Career Connect, most of the conversation was about what I could do for them, not about the specifics of my resume. It is a huge misconception that University education teaches us all the specific skills of a job. We learn the big stuff: critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and some of the macro skills of a certain degree.
If I (a recent grad and current graduate student) could encourage any soon to be UNT grad to do anything, I would say this: hone in on some skills or experiences you can showcase. Since I was basically all liberal arts (hello philosophy and communication), I showcase things like my internship experience, that time I wrote a grant for the We Mean Green Fund, and my leadership experience in the organizations I was in. Employers don’t care that I took Social and Political Philosophy or Rhetorical Theory: they want to see how I was able to write a grant based on sustainable values and figured out how to communicate a vision to a team of students. Actually, when I wrote it all out, I was surprised at things I had done here at UNT that gave me some marketable skills I didn’t know I had. Like that one time I made a video with my friends. Planning? Coordination? Negotiation of takes? It’s all there. Or what about when I was forced to be group leader? Same thing. So, the next time you do something, make sure you write it down. Reflect on what you’ve learned, and how this point in your life can jump start you to the next big thing. You’ll never know who you’ll want to show later.
Showcase your skills at my.unt.edu under the ePortfolio tile.