The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the job market to slow down. According to the The Wall Street Journal, students set to graduate this spring are entering the worst job market in decades. As a result, soon-to-be graduates face unique challenges in starting their careers this year.

Students studying for degrees in the humanities and social sciences may inherently feel at a disadvantage, as their chosen majors might not directly link to an essential service or growing job field. Nevertheless, the state of the hiring market does not necessarily mean recent graduates will be unable to find a job. Graduates need a plan for entering the job market this year, and identifying one’s marketable skill sets is a good first step in that plan.

“Breaking into the post-college job market is less about where graduates went to school or their specific degree than it is about the skills they possess,” said Wall Street Journal authors Jeffrey Selingo and Matt Sigelman.

While articulating one’s skills to a prospective employer is important, graduates must also be able to identify times they used those skills in concrete ways. Professor of English Dr. Aaron Kleist encourages students in humanities and social sciences to identify how skills are applied.

“However vital, the degree is not enough,” said Kleist. “You need to be able to articulate to potential employers how you used skills and knowledge from that degree in professional settings to achieve tangible results.”

Internship experience is a great way to develop and demonstrate skills for future employers. Many departments at Biola require an internship or professional experience as part of the degree program. These courses give students class credit for engaging in already beneficial internship experiences.

For students studying the humanities and social sciences, “Humanities and Social Sciences Internships: Preparing You for Your Profession” is a great option. Depending on your major, this course runs under the labels ENGL 490, HIST 488, PHIL 490, POSC 490, SPAN 485 and SOCI 366. It is aimed at helping students answer the perennial question: “What can you do with that degree?” and providing them with a community of students also undertaking internships. The class covers networking, resumes, interviews, applications, integration of skills and values in a professional setting, and perhaps most to the point, translating internships into jobs.

Recent political science graduate Samantha Russell (’20) found that taking this course helped her find some peace and confidence as she began her job search.

“Coming into this class I was very unsure of what to expect,” said Russell. “By the end of this class however, I can confidently say that I learned a lot about professional development. I learned how versatile a liberal arts major is, and to set my sights high as I entered into the professional world. I learned I have way more skills than I thought I did and how many jobs those skills could be applied to.”

Taking this course also gave Russell some insight into how versatile her major could be when it comes to the job search.

“When this class started I was scared to graduate as I was unsure of what my future held, but now I am ready to graduate and take on the unknown,” said Russell. “I now know the value of my skills and the versatility of my degree. This class also helped me develop my Linkedin, which was very helpful as I apply to internships and jobs that require me to send in my Linkedin account!”

Despite the potential difficulties humanities and social science graduates may face in the present hiring market, being able to articulate one’s applicable skill sets and the valuable experience gained through internships can help. Furthermore, Biola students have a unique support system in obtaining those vital internships. 

If you are looking for an internship, consider beginning your search on Handshake and connecting with the Career Center. As you plan your classes for next semester, consider taking your department's version of POSC 490.

Chayila Kleist is a Peer Academic Advisor for Political Science