By Danielle Veith
As Bryant students, we see it everywhere. “Learn to market yourself effectively!” “Pitch yourself!” “How to appeal to employers!” This incessant command to make ourselves attractive to the working world is inescapable, both on this campus and everywhere we turn. The career fair, which happened this past week, is a place where many a Bryant student thrives, confident in their ability to secure an internship or employment opportunity. The first thing you see on our website is the fact that 99% of graduates are employed or in graduate school 6 months after graduation. Is this a great statistic? Yes; it’s highly impressive. Is it the most important thing about coming to college? That one’s up for debate.
So many people, at Bryant and at other schools alike, say that they just can’t wait to graduate. So many young people want to just get a job and begin their adult lives. This is because the modern working world is completely glorified – having no homework, a real living space, and a stable paycheck seems too good to be true! Through the size of a paycheck and a 9-5 desk job, we quantify and define success. Actually, we are told that there is something wrong with you if you haven’t been able to get a job after graduation. The working world and the hyper-competitive activity you have to engage in is not the problem. Clearly you did not pursue enough leadership positions, get good enough grades, or do whatever everyone else is doing to get ahead.
But why is this? Why don’t we define success as being happy? Does having strong and positive relationships count as some kind of achievement? Isn’t setting out to do something you’re passionate about – regardless of the salary you’ll receive or if you’re employed right away – something to be proud of? When did having compassion for others and contributing to the common good become something to opt out of, just because we are too busy working?
Every time I tell people that I am an LCS major at Bryant, I’m almost always met with a nose crinkle or some kind of other confused expression. People tend to change the subject really quickly, because they just can’t relate. Bryant has opened my eyes to many different phenomena and this is one of them; somewhere along the way, we started seeing the humanities as an unnecessary subject to study.
Liberal arts majors are perceived as naïve and out of touch, and clearly don’t know what to study to actually get ahead. But what if getting ahead isn’t as important as we think it is? Maybe the real goal is not to succeed in a business sense, but to realize what makes us human (as the name humanities suggests) and to embrace it fully in our everyday lives. Could it be that the one thing that brings us humans together is not to compete against one another for jobs or salaries, but the common goal of leaving the world a better place than it was when we entered it?
So, I understand the importance of being able to communicate my skills in order to get a career, but maybe marketing ourselves “effectively” is not something we want to do at all. We are complex, intellectual, emotional beings. Maybe being able to sum up our entire person – who we are, our dreams and aspirations, and what we can bring to the table – in a 60-second elevator pitch is not something to be so proud of.