Being a dean in a liberal arts college, Susan Lawrence worries that graduates don't know how to translate what they've learned into something that is saleable in the job market. "They have to take their everyday experiences [as students] and show how they speak to employers' needs," she said.
I spoke this morning to Lawrence, who has the ponderous title of dean for educational initiatives and core curriculum for Rutgers University's School of Arts and Sciences in New Brunswick. Lawrence is convinced that a liberal arts degree has value, but the challenge is selling that value to employers who may roll their eyes when they see a liberal arts major such as philosophy on a resume.
Lawrence calls it "cross-walk." There's no point, she said, in graduates telling employers about the many research papers they wrote. Employers may not understand the amount of statistical analysis, number crunching and problem solving involved. Instead, graduates need to reframe their academic work in terms of real-life problems that an employer might encounter.
But that takes practice. This spring, Lawrence co-led a class designed to teach that kind of cross-walk, along with a way of thinking about jobs and careers. You can read more about it here.