Why these degrees are in demand – 36
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.
Kari Bowling, 22, works part-time at SACOSS while studying for her MA.