That Degree’s Not Useless! What to Learn Next to Upgrade Your BA.

Here at the “…er” blog, we spend a lot of time talking about Education 2.0 and how it’s going to change everything forever. But sometimes we tend to forget how many of us already went through, or are currently enrolled in, Education 1.0.
Build your Online DegreeFor better or worse, the time of the traditional degree is still upon us. That means many of you, like me (and most everyone I know from my own dear alma mater), are stumbling forth into the harsh light of the business world with only a paper-thin liberal arts degree to shield your eyes.

It’s easy to think you’re sunk. “What, if anything,” you may ask, “can I pretend my literature degree with a focus on post-colonial novels and English poetry 1300-1700, plus minor in film studies*, qualifies me to do?”

Well, fear not. You may not be the most qualified, of course, but you can be. Here are the skills you should learn to turn your intellectually pure college experience into an expertise in high demand. Let’s start with our example:

Literature + Analytics = Online Marketing!

These days, one of the most prized catches in the job pool is an Internet Marketer.  As always, tight writing is still a major asset, especially when you have to balance economy and impact on a platform like Twitter or email, so you’re halfway there!

The other half, the half that makes you relevant, is a little tougher, but you can teach it to yourself with a little ingenuity and persistence. You can set up a WordPress, a Google AdWords campaign to drive traffic to it, and a Google Analytics account to assess the traffic all for under $10. Do that, and then check out some tips and tricks on what to do with it all. Congratulations: you’re now employable!

Studio Art + HTML & CSS = UX/Web Design!

What if you spent all your hard work perfecting your style with a brush, and now that you’ve graduated, you’re choosing between food and canvas? Well, I suppose you could literally be a starving artist, or, alternately, you can dip your toe into the fast-growing world of web design!

Check out Codecademy for an introduction to the brushes and paints that work on the Internet. Then ask your English-major friend for access to his new WordPress and practice making it beautiful. You’re already on your way.

History + SQL (or SPSS/Excel/Access) = Analyst!

You just spent four years honing your research skills, learning how to ask the right questions, draw the best conclusions, and argue what it all means. Unfortunately, the Civil War is of slightly less importance to most businesses than their finances – and all that’s standing between you and an analyst position is mastery of a database language.

Admittedly, this is a slightly tougher sell than the other two, but there are still plenty of resources on the web to help you learn. Udemy offers courses to help you get started in SQL. Once you know your way around a database, it’s just a question of applying all those highly disciplined research techniques of yours. SPSS, Excel, and Access are some other database management systems with different applications — everyone, from finance firms to content marketers, needs someone who can look into a broad body of information and make insights into what it all means.

Just because everyone asks you if you want to teach every time you mention your major doesn’t mean you’re unemployable. It just means you’re uniquely positioned to be extra-good at something – with a little work playing catch-up on the specifics. So polish that brilliant brain of yours and put it back to work, and soon enough, you’ll have employers kicking in your front door with job offers!

  • Plmyr73

    With all due respect, you are full of crap. If you have a B.A. you are doomed to a life of retail stock and checkout. I’m in my forties, I’m living proof of this.