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The Arts and Letters major’s lament

| Monday, February 9, 2015

A musician wakes from a horrid nightmare. In his dream, he finds himself in a society where music education is mandatory. Professors and university presidents all maintain that the push for musical education is in an effort to make “students more competitive in an increasingly rhythmic world. Universities must cater students toward employment, and music is quickly becoming the most lucrative industry.” Because musicians place their ideas in the form of printed scores, college students are taught the language of music. To meet the demand for musically centered universities, primary schools must teach only the cadence of music, the acceleration of tempo and the harmonization of chords. Accelerando, basso continuo and calando replace the ABCs, and eventually, the intrinsic and diversified value of higher education is lost only to be replaced by normalized musical education.

Waking up in a cold sweat, the musician realizes, fortunately, that this dream is absurd. “No higher education system would reduce the complexities and diversities of education into a single form. No university would cater to a single profession and ask all other majors to integrate within.”

An Arts and Letters major wakes from a similar dream, puts on business formal attire and heads to the Career Fair.

Although melodramatic, the musician’s nightmare is one that many Arts and Letters students face. As many of us approach graduation, a trend is becoming increasingly apparent; college employment recruitment highly favors business majors. No better example of this is the Winter Career Fair. Before I continue, I must thank The Notre Dame Career Center for hosting such events. Career fairs serve an important function, connecting Notre Dame students to the world of employment. However, many students like me view the Career Fair in a drastically different light. I understand the usefulness of the Career Fair for some students, but for many students, Arts and Letters in particular, the Career Fair is a daunting reminder of the challenges we must face in the employment search. We must rely on non-University means to seek employment, or embrace the business application of our Arts and Letters degrees. Yes, as a community, we should all be proud of the academic merit of our high-ranking business programs, and yes, the Career Center does wonders in placing business students in America’s top firms. Yet, our emphasis on business becomes an issue when many students, outside the school of business, are too disheartened to attend the Career Fair. We do not attend because we know an unspoken reality; there is little opportunity for us there.

The division of opportunity exemplified by the Career Fair is not reflective of the current job market. Although business employment is high, so is employment in other fields. As the American economy continues to rebound from the 2008 recession, more and more industries are seeking college graduates from high-ranking universities. Non-profit organizations, think tanks, technology firms, pharmaceutical companies, service organizations and many other potential employment opportunities are on the job market. Yet, the Career Fair appears to be one-dimensional. The unfortunate effect of this one dimensionality is that many students are forced to use non-University methods to search for employment. Realistically, many students may not know how, therefore limiting the search for employment to the results of a Google search.

Career fairs are helpful and important, but I want this necessary aid to be available and useful to all students. We as a University need to show that careers are not limited to the business industry. We should show that it is indeed possible for an Arts and Letters student to have a career, be it through graduate school, post-graduate service or the panoply of industries looking for the talented, creative, articulate and well-educated individuals that this University cultivates.

Micah Burbanks-Ivey


off campus

Feb. 6

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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