SMART ART

Why these de­grees are in de­mand – 36

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STU­DENTS are dis­pelling the mis­con­cep­tion that Bach­e­lor of Arts de­grees do not of­fer def­i­nite ca­reer out­comes. In­stead, its grad­u­ates are en­joy­ing ca­reers in ar­eas such as pol­icy, me­dia and en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment.

Many of to­day’s pol­icy devel­op­ment of­fi­cers, so­cial and re­gional plan­ner, teach­ers and writ­ers are launched into em­ploy­ment by a de­gree in arts.

Ade­laide Uni­ver­sity lec­turer in the School of Hu­man­i­ties Dr Rob Cover says to­day’s em­ploy­ers are im­pressed by arts grad­u­ates be­cause of their crit­i­cal think­ing abil­ity.

‘‘Em­ploy­ers are not as in­ter­ested in tech­ni­cal soft­ware skills be­cause they are so eas­ily picked up and taught on the job,’’ he says.

‘‘They are much more in­ter­ested in arts grad­u­ates be­cause uni­ver­si­ties of­fer greater breadth of knowl­edge through things like in­tern­ships.

‘‘It’s prac­ti­cal through lead­er­ship, prac­ti­cal through knowl­edge and prac­ti­cal through re­search.’’

Dr Cover, who is also the pro­gram con­vener for a Bach­e­lor of Me­dia and the Arts In­tern­ship Co­or­di­na­tor, says arts de­gree stu­dents come from a va­ri­ety of back­grounds – from those who want to tai­lor their own de­grees to those who haven’t yet de­cided where they want to work.

‘‘With an arts de­gree, it gives that time how to ex­plore, how to think about where one wants to be in the world,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s a pretty broad range of peo­ple. You’ve got on one hand peo­ple who’ve come from multi-gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple who have gone to uni and they’re re­ally buy­ing into the older mod­els of an arts de­gree. Oth­ers re­ally want to learn and want to learn how to think crit­i­cally and you do have oth­ers who aren’t sure what to do.

‘‘They want that chance to fig­ure it out and fig­ure them­selves out and, for the most part, they ac­tu­ally do.

‘‘Also, some peo­ple have very spe­cific in­ter­ests. It might be that they are re­ally in­ter­ested in English lit­er­a­ture or pol­i­tics and choose that very early on.’’

Uni­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia pro vice-chan­cel­lor for ed­u­ca­tion, arts and so­cial sci­ences Pal Ah­luwalia says arts grad­u­ates are in­creas­ingly in de­mand.

‘‘What we are see­ing, even where peo­ple are hav­ing spe­cialised de­grees, em­ploy­ers are say­ing even though they have these spe­cific skills, we want peo­ple who are crit­i­cal thinkers,’’ he says.

‘‘Arts de­grees give you those re­ally crit­i­cal, an­a­lyt­i­cal skills.’’

Still­well Man­age­ment Con­sul­tants man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Daryl Still­well says most arts grad­u­ates pick up train­ing eas­ily be­cause of their in­quis­i­tive na­ture, flex­i­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity of think­ing.

‘‘Many arts grad­u­ates pro­vide em­ploy­ers with crit­i­cally im­por­tant at­tributes in­clud­ing the abil­ity to think lat­er­ally and di­ver­gently, to take a holis­tic ap­proach to prob­lem­solv­ing and to be ef­fec­tive in their en­gage­ment with a wide range of peo­ple,’’ he says. Mr Still­well says that re­gard­less of any ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion, re­cruiters should al­ways con­sider the to­tal range of ex­pe­ri­ence, per­sonal qual­i­ties, po­ten­tial and achieve­ments that a can­di­date presents.

Kari Bowl­ing, 22, fin­ished a Bach­e­lor of Arts last year, dou­ble ma­jor­ing in an­thro­pol­ogy and Span­ish.

She started study­ing a psy­chol­ogy de­gree be­fore switch­ing to arts.

‘‘I think arts de­grees are greatly un­der­val­ued,’’ Ms Bowl­ing says.

‘‘For me, it was the only way I could get into an­thro­pol­ogy and I be­lieve it’s the same with a range of ar­eas as well.

‘‘They al­low you to build your own study plan.’’

Dur­ing her de­gree, Ms Bowl­ing did an in­tern­ship with the South Aus­tralian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice.

This led to her present part-time job.

Ms Bowl­ing says the idea that a Bach­e­lor of Arts de­gree is ‘‘just an arts de­gree’’ has been a long­stand­ing no­tion.

‘‘At school, we were told it was a use­less waste of time and money. That was re­ally nailed into us,’’ Ms Bowl­ing says.

‘‘So it was a re­ally big deal for me to change out of some­thing into arts.’’

Ms Bowl­ing’s study has now led her down a new and ex­cit­ing ca­reer path.

She’s about to study a mas­ter’s de­gree in health and in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment.

Pic­ture: NIGEL PAR­SONS

Kari Bowl­ing, 22, works part-time at SACOSS while study­ing for her MA.

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