If you are studying anything at university that isn’t Medicine, Law or STEM-related, it is very likely that your degree choice may have been declared by others as ‘easy’, ‘soft’, ‘unlikely to get you a job’ or just plain ‘useless’. However, if you take a closer look at the work such ‘useless’ degrees entail, it soon becomes clear that ‘useless’ degrees give you many skills that are very far from being useless in the world of work.
An ability to think outside the box
Whilst subjects such as Maths, Law and Medicine tend to have set right and wrong answers, with Arts, Humanities and Social Science subjects, things are generally more open to interpretation, with original thinking being rewarded in essays and exam responses. This ability to think outside of the box easily translates to being a very useful skill in the workplace. From overcoming work-related issues to coming up with ideas to raise a company’s profile, innovative ways of thinking are always needed to keep a company operating successfully.
The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences are often bemoaned for their lack of contact hours compared to the packed timetables of a STEM, Medicine or Law degrees. However, as any student of these subjects will tell you, a lack of contact hours does not equal a lack of work. It merely means that a lot of studying is carried out away from the classroom and the direction of your tutors.
Being able to complete tasks with little direction from others is great preparation for when you enter the world of work. Although you may be working under a senior member of staff or working on a project alongside other colleagues, a lot of the time you will be expected to carry out work independently, with no-one constantly there to help you complete tasks. This skill becomes even more useful when you consider the increase in popularity for remote offices and working from home, where the ability to work without the input of others is even more essential.
An ability to consider different points of view
Whilst being able to construct a clear, concise and sustained argument is key to being successful in Arts, Humanities and Social Science degrees, showing that you have considered other viewpoints, including possible flaws in your argument, is just as important and crucial for achieving a 2:1 or above.
In working life, you will encounter people who will have a different perspective to you, whether that be a potential client or a colleague. Therefore, the ability to look at issues from a variety of perspectives will come in very handy. Having this skill is key to ensuring that you have good relationships with clients and colleagues, resulting in a better work environment for everyone.
It’s a popular university buzzword, with many prospectuses and careers guides emphasising how Arts, Humanities and Social Science degrees provide future graduates with critical thinking skills. Over-used though the phrase may be, the skill of critical thinking should never be underestimated. Having to critically analyse a text or theory forces you think about some difficult questions and reflect upon the world around you.
Doing this throughout the course of a degree means you will be well placed to carry out a number of workplace tasks. For example, analytical skills will be useful in any role where you are required to analyse information, make decisions or problem- solve. As these responsibilities are prevalent in practically every type of career possible, you’ll never be at a disadvantage for having completed a degree which emphasised critical thinking.
Written communication skills
Whilst few people would dispute the fact that essay-heavy Arts, Humanities and Social Science degrees gives people a good opportunity to hone their written communication skills, many people argue “so you learn how to write. So what? Everybody can write!”
What such people don’t realise is that these degrees don’t just teach you how to write, they teach you how to choose your words carefully, a vital skill to have when sending an important email to the head of your department or when crafting a post to go on your company’s social media account. These degrees also teach you how to get your point across clearly and concisely. In a busy workplace where everybody’s time is limited, being able to communicate key information clearly in notes, emails, memos and letters to clients and your work colleagues is essential.
So the next time a family member, friend, neighbour or random acquaintance tells you that your degree is useless, console yourself with the truth that your degree will equip you with many skills that will make you a real asset in the workplace.