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Are non-top 100 liberal arts degrees worthless in the eyes of employers?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by stevejobs, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    But if you are a PE with only a B.Sc. you do find obstacles quite often, especially once you decide to go up to something like project management or in to research, whether in academia or in the private sector.

    Or with just your undergrad you can become one of the principals [​IMG]

    Good luck with your studies, I hope you go as far as you want [​IMG]
     
  2. lithium180

    lithium180 Senior member

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    I graduated from a state school (Arizona State, not particularly lauded academically) with a degree in history and a 3.8 GPA. This April I'll begin work as an in-house strategy analyst in the drug discovery department of a major pharmaceutical company. I'll be working on a 5 person team and we'll be working on optimizing our in house research units, acquisitions, and cross-licensing agreements to build our product pipeline for 5-10 years down the road.

    I have no experience with pharmaceuticals, biochemistry or biotechnology. What I can do, thanks to my liberal arts degree, is learn about almost any subject within a period of several weeks, write hundreds of pages of sparkling prose regarding my research findings, and distill those findings down in to clear, abbreviated oral and visual presentations. I am confident in my ability to learn and present across a broad array of disciplines and that my research will help senior managers make informed decisions that take in to account a wide array of relevant aspects (legal, financial, political, etc.).

    These are the skills that I bring to the table and these are what I emphasized during my hiring interviews. For what it's worth, I reckon my job security in this position is stronger than that of any low to mid-level researchers and engineers working in our laboratories. Even the smartest researchers can have their projects cut if management decides that the resources funding those projects would be better used elsewhere. The people who make decisions about how best to allocate those resources are far less likely to lose their jobs.

    And just fyi, the salary for this job (my first out of undergrad) starts in the low $60ks.
     
  3. whacked

    whacked Senior member

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    of course, being a liberal arts student who has never had a job may color your impression somewhat [​IMG]

    There are lots of 'could be' answers in the thread above, and I guess that is reasonable given how broad and general the topic is....in addressing the 'could be', I would err on the side of 'ya, but probably isnt'.

    It's like when a thread about body building involves women, and people point out the chick who can like benchpress a car to prove that 'women can be as strong as men'....a car lifting chick is the exception not the rule and in dealing with generalities, men remain physically the stronger gender. Same applies...sure a poli sci student could transfer into medicine...but for the most part, he probably wont, and the science kid will have a leg up in med school once he gets there.

    Personally - and I guess my bias has been revealed in my few posts throughout this thread - I will address as an employer the question raised by the OP. BTW for anyone who doesnt know, I run a public relations company, and since my field has come up in several posts above as somewhere that liberal arts kids could wind up, I will address it in that context.

    I wouldnt bother inteviewing a grad from a course that isnt directly related to what I will have the kid doing.

    Very simple.

    If I have a stack of 30 CVs in front of me, I would look at any business degree CV longer than basically anything out of the humanities or social sciences. I would look at any marketing kid longer. Any kid who has majored in languages that may be able to help me with a very international client base.

    The PhD in Philosophy is a step down to me from a bachelors in accounting.

    With all due respects, m@t, I think your opinion is colored due to either a lack of familiarity with liberal arts education (a very American concept) or that you've spent most of your professional career working in Singapore and Vietnam. While their degrees might have the same name, I doubt a, say, University of New South Wales B.A. in Philosophy has to take classes in nearly as many disciplines and learn nearly as much "soft skills" as a someone graduating from Amherst with a B.A. in Philosophy.
     
  4. Connemara

    Connemara Senior member

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    I graduated from a state school (Arizona State, not particularly lauded academically) with a degree in history and a 3.8 GPA. This April I'll begin work as an in-house strategy analyst in the drug discovery department of a major pharmaceutical company. I'll be working on a 5 person team and we'll be working on optimizing our in house research units, acquisitions, and cross-licensing agreements to build our product pipeline for 5-10 years down the road. I have no experience with pharmaceuticals, biochemistry or biotechnology. What I can do, thanks to my liberal arts degree, is learn about almost any subject within a period of several weeks, write hundreds of pages of sparkling prose regarding my research findings, and distill those findings down in to clear, abbreviated oral and visual presentations. I am confident in my ability to learn and present across a broad array of disciplines and that my research will help senior managers make informed decisions that take in to account a wide array of relevant aspects (legal, financial, political, etc.). These are the skills that I bring to the table and these are what I emphasized during my hiring interviews. For what it's worth, I reckon my job security in this position is stronger than that of any low to mid-level researchers and engineers working in our laboratories. Even the smartest researchers can have their projects cut if management decides that the resources funding those projects would be better used elsewhere. The people who make decisions about how best to allocate those resources are far less likely to lose their jobs. And just fyi, the salary for this job (my first out of undergrad) starts in the low $60ks.
    More details please! [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  5. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    With all due respects, m@t, I think your opinion is colored due to either a lack of familiarity with liberal arts education (a very American concept) or that you've spent most of your professional career working in Singapore and Vietnam. While their degrees might have the same name, I doubt a, say, University of New South Wales B.A. in Philosophy has to take classes in nearly as many disciplines and learn nearly as much "soft skills" as a someone graduating from Amherst with a B.A. in Philosophy.
    actually I did a chunk of my degree in poli sci in the US, changed out mid way through and went to a business major as I could see the poli sci thing taking me nowhere. Watched a bunch of people argue realpolitik in a bunch of cafes and found myself wondering where in the hell this discussion would be getting me in the years to come.
     
  6. Connemara

    Connemara Senior member

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  7. lithium180

    lithium180 Senior member

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    With all due respects, m@t, I think your opinion is colored due to either a lack of familiarity with liberal arts education (a very American concept) or that you've spent most of your professional career working in Singapore and Vietnam. While their degrees might have the same name, I doubt a, say, University of New South Wales B.A. in Philosophy has to take classes in nearly as many disciplines and learn nearly as much "soft skills" as a someone graduating from Amherst with a B.A. in Philosophy.


    Could you explain what "soft skills" might consist of? I am not familiar with this term.
     
  8. whacked

    whacked Senior member

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  9. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    What I can do, thanks to my liberal arts degree, is learn about almost any subject within a period of several weeks, write hundreds of pages of sparkling prose regarding my research findings, and distill those findings down in to clear, abbreviated oral and visual presentations. I am confident in my ability to learn and present across a broad array of disciplines and that my research will help senior managers make informed decisions that take in to account a wide array of relevant aspects (legal, financial, political, etc.).

    I'm sorry, but what fucking hubris. The best you can do is take other people's ideas and turn them into some slick gloss for a presentation. I have also met countless liberal arts graduates that a) cannot write well and b) do not have a broad background in and understanding of things I would consider part of being "educated" or "well rounded". You do not "learn about any subject within several weeks". Hell, it takes undergrads with a specialization years of actual on the job work to "learn about" their subject in depth.

    If you want to tell me your degree has readied you to write a precis, I'll buy that. If you want me to believe that in less than two months you can learn about any subject, one you have never studied, I call bullshit. In fact, as all undergrads are required to take a core of gen-ed liberal arts courses, I would tell you that even the hardest core science major has aquired the skill set you vaunt through their gen ed courses. After all, if you can learn anything in several weeks, imagine the learning all those gen-eds gave the people with specialized knowledge.

    Also, FYI: ASU actually is lauded in at least a couple of areas. You'd think someone with such an expansive education would know that!
     
  10. Philosoph

    Philosoph Senior member

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    The PhD in Philosophy is a step down to me from a bachelors in accounting.

    I find this depressing. [​IMG]
     
  11. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    I find this depressing. [​IMG]
    speaking purely as an employer there. I have no issue with someone who Wants To Learn The Classics For The Enrichment Of Their Inner Selves....I just probably wouldn't hire him.
     
  12. Philosoph

    Philosoph Senior member

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    No worries, I knew what you meant. My first choice is to go into academics anyway, but if that doesn't work out, then I like to think that I can bring myself down out of the clouds and market myself and my skills in a way that will allow me to get a job doing something.
     
  13. haganah

    haganah Senior member

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    speaking purely as an employer there. I have no issue with someone who Wants To Learn The Classics For The Enrichment Of Their Inner Selves....I just probably wouldn't hire him.

    Sucks for so many ivy leaguers and top 10 school alums I suppose. Oh what will they do?
     
  14. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    Pre-med is not terminal, it qualifies you to do nothing outside of go to more school. No one gets a job as a pre-med graduate.

    Not true. I've met a few pharm reps who have completed or partially completed the prequesite requirements for medical school.
     
  15. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    Not true. I've met a few pharm reps who have completed or partially completed the prequesite requirements for medical school.

    If you think that runs contrary to what I said, I shall not argue.
     

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