Gen Ed Classes: Busy Work or Career Boosters?

Spring has arrived—and with it, thoughts about next semester, summer employment, if you are ever going to graduate, and whether you can squeeze in time for your  group project, write a 5-page paper on the cultural diversity of Indonesia, and hold down your part-time job all before the end of the semester.

If you want to be hired in today’s job market, you will NEED to use all of the above to your advantage.  That’s right: Those projects, papers, and seemingly useless knowledge of world governments, religions, and societies may be some of the  most important skills you’ll gain from your college career.

In today’s job market, employers want more than technical skills from their employees.  We live in a global society, and more and more jobs are requiring us to interact with other humans in some form for at least part of the day.  To help your resume stand out, start documenting what you are doing in these general education courses now.  For example, have you:

  • Completed group projects?
  • Improved your writing skills?
  • Gained knowledge and perspective on global issues/other cultures?
  • Worked with a diverse group of people?
  • Identified a problem and developed a solution?

You don’t need a ton of work experience to gain all these attractive skills; you’ve been doing them all along in your college coursework! The situations above translate into examples of communication, problem solving, teamwork, understanding and relating to others, diversity sensitivity, and managing multiple priorities.

So the next time your advisor tells you that you need one more humanities gen ed to fulfill your degree requirements, don’t roll your eyes but instead, challenge yourself to broaden your horizons and select a course you know nothing about.  You’ll have one more experience to add to your list and keep track of, so that when job search time comes, you can verbalize these experiences and move more powerfully toward career success.

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

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