Tell Me about Yourself: How to Prepare your General Studies Majors for the Job Market

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Are colleges preparing undergraduates with an interdisciplinary studies degree to enter the workforce?  Learn how to develop an online capstone course to equip students with skills, including resume and cover letter writing for jobs and graduate applications, job search strategies, and interviewing skills, that prepare them to enter the workforce.

This session will focus on best practices for developing the course and offer examples of content, delivery, and assessment.  Attendees will experience a live interactive demonstration of the virtual Mock Interview.

Extended Abstract

Once students earn their undergraduate degrees, they’re ready to take their skill set to the job market and land their dream job.  Students who have majored in a specific field may be better equipped to find a job because of the nature of their major.  But what about students who have chosen a general studies degree?  How do they sell their degree to potential employers?  Are colleges preparing them to begin a job search or enter a graduate program? 

A recent national study entitled “The Multi-Generational Job Search” reveals that “liberal arts majors were shown to be the least likely to land a job, with only 2% of companies actively recruiting those graduates – versus 27% for engineering and computer information systems and 18% for business.”  But what really stood out was that while having a degree was essential, an applicant’s preparation and personality played a significant part in whether or not he or she landed the job.  According to the survey results, “73% of hiring managers felt that colleges are only ‘somewhat preparing’ students for the working world.  The biggest challenges facing hiring managers seem to be how job seekers present themselves –36% of HR Pros reported that candidates are ‘unprepared’ and 33% said they have a ‘bad attitude’ when interviewing.”

If students are not required to engage with their university’s Career Center, if they have one, then they may not develop the skills that they need to begin a job search. Some will simply flood job search websites with resumes and generic cover letters and only “show up” if given the opportunity to interview. While having a specific major may give graduates an edge in the job market, for students with a liberal arts degree, they need an advantage not only to land an interview but also to be prepared to show the value of their degree and of themselves.  These are teachable skills, so why not provide them with the resources they need to reach the next level?

The College of Arts and Sciences at Mississippi State University developed an online capstone course entitled the Professional Seminar to address this with distance students enrolled in the online Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (BSIS) program.  This one-hour credit course was designed to help prepare students for the job market and/or further study beyond their undergraduate degree. 

The Professional Seminar helps students understand the value of researching companies or universities where they want to work or study, using social media to their advantage, tailoring their cover letters and resumes strategically, preparing for the interview, and much more.  These tools equip students with the skills they need to enter the workforce.

In this session, attendees will learn best practices for developing an online capstone course for an interdisciplinary studies program and offer examples of content, delivery, and assessment.  Attendees will also experience a live interactive demonstration of the virtual Mock Interview online.