Office of Career Services (OCS) organised a webinar on Careers after Liberal Arts with Sharon Belden Castonguay, the Executive Director of Career Services at Wesleyan University. Sharon is also the instructor for the MOOC on Coursera titled Career Decisions: From insight to impact. She serves as the President Elect of the Liberal Arts Careers Network, a consortium of 39 colleges across the US. With Sharon’s two decades of career development experience and work as an adult development psychologist, the 45-minute webinar enabled students to understand various options available to them after graduating with a liberal arts degree.
Some of the discussion topics included: perception among employers of liberal arts graduates, skills required by employers, sectors and roles are open to liberal arts hiring, entry barriers for specific roles, longer term career prospects, tips on career manoeuvring. In a world where the future is not too clear, a broad-based education helps. There are students in the US who take liberal arts and then pursue courses like law, business, journalism and even medicine. Synthesizing information, writing, presentation skills and working with people are skills that one picks up in a liberal arts education. While skills in technical functions become obsolete every few years, the skills picked up in liberal arts will stay relevant for decades. While employers are willing to train graduates on technical skills, they will definitely not train students on skills like writing and presentations. The softer skills develop over a period of time and liberal arts graduates are able to hit the ground running in their workplaces.
Wesleyan is a renowned private liberal arts university in the US. It was founded in 1831 and has many distinguished alumni in the arts and sciences, literature, politics and government, business, journalism and academia. These include numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, members of the United States Congress, several CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies.
The session aims to deconstruct career options for liberal arts graduates in India and the US. Irrespective of whether you are looking at higher education, jobs, entrepreneurship, gap year projects or research, this session promises to be an interesting one.
Bio of the co-host, Sharon Belden Castonguay:
Sharon Belden Castonguay, EdD, is the Executive Director of the Gordon Career Center, the instructor for Career Decisions: From Insight to Impact on Coursera and the host of the podcasts Careers by Design: The Interviews and First Year Out. She is an adult developmental psychologist and career counsellor with over 20 years of experience working with professionals at all levels of their careers. She currently serves as President-Elect of the Liberal Arts Career Network, a consortium of 39 top liberal arts colleges and universities devoted to the career development of liberal arts students and graduates in a global and ever-changing marketplace. Her TEDxWesleyanU talk, The Psychology of Career Decisions, considers themes of identity, culture, and decision making. Until 2013 she was the Director of the Graduate Career Management Center at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business (CUNY). Previously she served as an Assistant Director for PhD career advising at Harvard, where she was also a Teaching Fellow for graduate courses in Adult Development and Cross-Cultural Counselling. She has also served as an Assistant Director of graduate career services at the Boston University School of Management, where she taught a course in career development. Through her career consulting practice, she has worked with a number of other top universities, and has been an invited speaker at Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard Medical School and Princeton, among others. She received her doctorate in Human Development from Harvard, where her research focused on how businesspeople make career decisions. She also holds an MA in Education from the University of Michigan and a BA in Government from Smith College.