Yahoo! had a recent article titled “1 in 2 New Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed“. From the article:
While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder
The article discusses the “plight” of an individual with a college degree who is working as a barista at Starbucks because he cannot find employment in his chosen field (note – is “barista” a masculine or feminine term, or neutral?)
And what was this individuals’ major? CREATIVE WRITING.
I often contemplate what someone with that major thinks their job opportunities really are out there in the world. Let’s see…
- You could use your skills to write something, like this blog, for instance (and cash in all the nickels you will receive, maybe)
- You could go to Hollywood and try to write for a show or screenplay (good luck – the competition is ferocious)
- You could try to write that serious book that is in your head (uh… and there is a 1 in a billion chance that it will sell enough copies, should it be published, to feed you for even one month)
I’m not saying that creative writing isn’t interesting, fun, or could lead to pay that could sustain your life. I just don’t think that you need a DEGREE to do this, and if you are “banking” on this out of the gate, then you are in for some very likely serious hard knocks in the cash flow area.
Also, it isn’t clear to me that “creative writing” as a degree is necessary to be a “creative writer”. I would be interested to hear of a single popular author or even widely read blogger or screenwriter that has a degree called “creative writing”. Since I must admit that I am not sure even what “creative writing” is I looked it up at trusty old wikipedia and here is their definition:
Creative writing is considered to be any writing, fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature. Works which fall into this category include novels, epics, short stories, and poems. Writing for the screen and stage, screenwriting and playwriting respectively, typically have their own programs of study, but fit under the creative writing category as well.
Who would you even send a resume to for “creative writing”? If this definition was true, you aren’t sending it to any newspapers or technical writing firms (there are a lot of computer specifications being written) or even ad agencies; I don’t think that most screenwriters hire underlings and certainly the big film studios don’t hire you out of college and train you.
The article goes on to explain what is likely obvious to most readers:
College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities were among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level; those with nursing, teaching, accounting or computer science degrees were among the most likely.
I can’t imagine that these findings are a surprise to anyone. If you don’t have connections, you are better off getting a practical science-based or business-based degree (you can put computer science in whatever bucket you want) to get your foot in the door in business or in government. It IS true that many, many people started out with liberal arts degrees and rose to the top (often becoming lawyers) – but many of those that DID rise (in recent years) already had massive connections and were able to get in to elite graduate schools or careers like investment banking where only the most elite can apply. When you eliminate the liberal arts programs from elite Ivy-league or private universities from the mix (like Northwestern), getting a liberal arts degree from a non-elite school is going to leave you marooned in your job hunt. Probably 90%+ of liberal arts degree holders that are graduating now come from these non-elite schools (just a guess), so those are the ones likely “underemployed” or working as a barista somewhere.
What is surprising to me is that this is a surprise to anyone, at all.
Cross posted at LITGM