Bridging the Gap: Humanities Advisement and Careers

The Humanities Advisement and Careers office is preparing students for careers and life after graduation more efficiently than ever.


PROVO, Utah (May 29, 2015)—A common question advisors get is “What can I do with my degree from the College of Humanities?” In 2013, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that only 27 percent of college graduates were working in jobs related to their majors. The right career is often difficult to find immediately after graduation, and the career path isn’t as clearly dictated for humanities students as it is for others.

Fortunately, humanities students at Brigham Young University have help in discovering their own path. The Humanities Advisement and Careers Center (H.A.C.) is ready and more capable than ever before to help students prepare for life after BYU with specialized career counseling.

“It’s not about me sitting down with students and telling them what to do with their lives,” says career and academic advisor Cathryn Schofield. “It’s about helping to illuminate all of the pieces that they have and putting them together.”

Whether they realize it or not, humanities students are daily using the skills that employers in all fields are looking for, such as written and oral communication and critical thinking, and the majority of employers recognize that a general liberal arts education, blended with industry-specific skills, is important in their new hires.

For that reason, the H.A.C. focuses most of its energy on Humanities+, a wide selection of opportunities for in-field learning and professionally relevant training, all of which make students more attractive to potential employers. Opportunities include everything from internships (both domestic and international) to studies abroad to part-time work. By meeting with H.A.C. advisors, students can find the opportunities that will best complement their academic pursuits and prepare them to enter the professional sphere with confidence in their education and training.

“We want every student who graduates from our college to understand the value of what they’re getting and be able to apply it,” said Dave Waddell, assistant dean and advisor.

Outside of the office, the H.A.C. is helping students vicariously through two student-run clubs: the Translation and Localization Club and the Humanities to Business Club. Both groups provide members with resources for finding post-graduation employment, whether it be through mentoring, job training or networking.

IMG_4852Rebecca Brazzale, who serves as the Humanities to Business club’s advisor, said, “We’re trying to facilitate career preparation that’s not happening anywhere else, in a way that’s meaningful and instructive for humanities students.” The Translation and Localization club, advised by Sherami Jara, has already placed many of its students in internships (both on and off campus) and facilitated jobs in the fields of translation and localization.

But even with its renewed focus on career advisement, students can find new, innovative help for academic planning. In winter semester 2015, four students began working as peer advisors, meeting in walk-in, one-on-one appointments with students to answer questions about majors or minors and help them to meet their basic scheduling needs.

Advisors were once booked three weeks in advance, and now that waiting time has been cut in half thanks to the support of the peer mentors. Schofield explained, “If you have a bunch of 10-minute appointments, you can just have people come in when they’re here and not have to schedule an appointment three weeks in advance just to ask, ‘Can you look at my transcript?’”

“We get a lot of students that come into our office who are nervous, upset or confused, and I love being able to see them leave our office happy and reassured,” said peer advisor Stephen Moses. He and his fellow advisors have enjoyed the chance to work with their classmates, and students are responding well to the H.A.C.’s improved turnaround. With the students taking care of academic processing, full-time advisors have more time to devote to career advisement.

Even when full-time advisors meet with students for academic purposes, it’s with the end goal of a career firmly in mind. Advisors now handle declarations of majors in group meetings of up to five students and include introductory material for Humanities+ opportunities so that students can take action as soon as possible. “That meeting is more an overview of the career services that we offer, the orientation to the college, opening the door to say ‘Here are all of your resources,’” Brazzale said. “And then we can do one-on-one career advising appointments later down the road if they want it.”

Considering all of the things students have to stress over, be they class projects or finals, it’s understandable that many students just try to live semester by semester and put off thinking about the world after graduation. But with the support of the H.A.C., students have all the help they need to go forth and serve.

—Samuel Wright (B.A. American Studies ’16)