Career searches for humanities grads can take years (mine did). Here is a simple way to speed up your career search. Written for BAs, MAs, and PhDs.
Ready for it?
Your ability to research is one of the greatest threats to your success. In fact, most humanities majors take the slow road to things. They research, they think, they wait. This can be good, but when trying to break into a new career it can be paralyzing. If you are like me, you want to be an expert. And so you will dedicate yourself to learning a new field from top to bottom.
So here is my advice. If you are trying to train yourself in a new career, only buy three books. Just three.
Not a bucket-full.
Not an exhaustive library search for different jobs you can get with an English degree. Why?
Research can become procrastination
It’s much easier to spend a month researching, learning, reading–then it is to act.
So that’s my advice. Only buy three books. The reason is if you want to start a new career there is more than enough information in three books. The temptation is to keep reading. But you want to balance knowledge with action.
In my own humanities career limbo, I would load up my ipod every morning and then ride my bike through the city to my job as a landscaper.
As I cut lawns, pruned trees, and shoveled dirt I would listen to my podcasts: sales theory, marketing, creative thinking, web development, business lectures from Cambridge and Princeton, writing podcasts, and tons of digital marketing. My goal was simple: to learn as much as possible about being an advertising writer as possible.
This was fine. But it was another way of procrastinating. Only when I began to apply some of that knowledge did my career start to take off. You need to implement what you learn. It’s just the way the brain works.
You need more than theory
An employer needs more than just theoretical knowledge. They need to see that you can implement that knowledge. And you learn best by doing.
Your education has taught you wrong. Books don’t rule the world. Actions rule the world.
I have over 50 books on advertising. I can read them again and again. But this won’t help me actually write a cool TV commercial script: you have to apply knowledge to learn.
University teaches a bias towards action. It tells you to think of everything first. Write a business plan. Write a research report. Think.
It’s fine to be an intellectual. But recognize that thinking is not the same as doing.
Action. This is your new goal.
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