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6 reasons a postgrad in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is a genius career move



In an increasingly digital world, employers are coming to value key critical thinking and problem-solving skills more than ever.

Indeed, a recent HBR article argues that employers are turning to graduates of the Arts and Humanities to crack some of the biggest issues facing our society today. Everything from fake news to climate change requires the critical and cultural nous of students of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Plus, studying a postgraduate in the Arts gives students the opportunity to specialise in the topic that inspires them most – from languages and history to politics or sociology – which, ultimately, is a huge motivator for career success.

“There is a substantial body of research showing that workers whose occupations match their basic interests are more likely to be motivated, satisfied and successful,” says Professor Kevin Murphy, Chair of Work and Employment Studies in Kemmy Business School, UL.

While the trope of the ‘struggling artiste’ may pop up all the time, a postgrad in the Arts may actually be a genius career move. Here’s why.

1.  The tech industry needs the Arts

Ireland is a hotbed for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and is home to global leaders in industries like MedTech and FinTech. But opportunities aren’t just for postgrads in science and tech.

IT giants have globalised needs – which means they are looking to employ Arts and Humanities postgraduates with degrees like linguistics, translation, international relations, and technical communication.

For example, Google says that the most important skills are ‘soft’, for example:

  • Being a good coach.
  • Communicating and listening well.
  • Possessing insights into others (including different values and points of view).
  • Having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues.
  • Being a good critical thinker and problem-solver.
  • Being able to make connections across complex ideas.

Arts graduates can utilise these skills to fill gaps that more technically-driven professionals may lack.

2. There are big opportunities in business

Business is crying out for analytical-minded employees with niche skillsets. Many postgrad degrees in Arts and Humanities will give postgraduates the skills required for creative or ‘human-focused’ business positions.

Sought-after skills include analysis, creative problem-solving, research, human relations, consultation, account management, behaviour analysis, international relations, and strategy.

Indeed, according to Gavin Connell, Head of Careers at UL, “40 percent of business employers interviewed at a recent UL career fair said they were seeking postgraduate students in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.”

3. The advantage of specialisation at postgrad level

A postgrad in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences means more specialised course material, and an increased level of learning – which allows postgraduates to develop specific skills at a higher level.

The Master of Laws (General) LLM at UL is a prime example. The course focuses on a range of niche areas which are taught at an advanced, analytical level. Students can design their own study modules based on personal areas of interest within law practice.

For UL’s Master in Laws postgraduate, Colleen Kelly, this was the key reason for choosing her postgrad degree: “I stayed on to do the course because it allowed me to study areas and look into interests that I didn't get a chance to do with my undergrad.”

4. Gain an edge in a highly-educated workforce

Ireland has one of the highest proportions of young people in Europe going from school to third level education at 60 percent of all school-leavers.

That’s a high bar to set – and it means that competition for jobs is difficult, as an undergrad is becoming a base level requirement.

A postgrad is an effective way to stand out from the crowd and get the requisite skills to excel. A postgraduate programme in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences arms students with advanced skills which can be applied across many industries.

5. Lucrative career paths for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences postgrads

A postgraduate is an effective entryway into many different industries. “Although the course itself is important, a postgraduate degree is your ticket to entry into different industries,” says Gavin Connell, “and it can open doors you weren’t aware of. […] When you study what you love, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Emerging areas of employability for Arts graduates include:

  • Consultation:

The research, analysis and ideation skills from a postgraduate in History or Sociology is appealing to consulting firms.

  • Computational Linguist:

Postgrad students in linguistics now work with programmers to develop AI applications based on natural language.

  • Technical Writer:

Technical writing is a much sought-after skillset, in line with the growth of technical products and computer applications. Students on our MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning have gone on to careers in digital editing and as content managers.

  • BI Analyst:

Sociology and technical communications are prime skillsets for Business Intelligence – the analysis of data insights to inform business strategy.

  • Barrister, solicitor or legal secretary:

Many undergraduates pursue a career in Law at postgrad level, with some coming from different faculties such as business. The Master of Laws (General) LLM is a good course for this transition, as it allows students to study multiple areas of law.

Barrister, Owen O'Doherty, who graduated with the Master of Laws (General) LLM in 2015, described his postgrad as, “one of the best decisions [I have] ever made. The LLM allowed me to deepen my understanding in a whole range of areas. It helped me to move forward in my legal studies and motivated me to pursue a career as a barrister.”

6. Learn essential employability skills

While being genuinely interested in your degree is a bonus, leaving the postgrad with a strong chance of being employed is optimal.

“UL has an entire career service within our LLM,” student, Colleen Kelly, says. “We have a workshop called employability. We even have mock interviews with two of the big law firms, to improve and to see the real-world applications. UL works with us on our CVs, setting up internships and interviews.”

While many may argue that the Arts is a vocation, the reality is that it’s a lucrative move with many opportunities for students looking to carve an interesting career for themselves in the future. 

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