On April 4th, I traveled to Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island to present to faculty in the Modern Languages Department.
This was a unique situation for me because Bryant is a campus that focuses on business, but values the global perspective provided by the arts & sciences generally and languages specifically. To quote from the university website, “Bryant’s academic programs are distinguished by an integration of business and the arts and sciences with a global perspective.”
Instead of tip-toeing around the language of business, capitalism and income generation, this was a chance to embrace it! The department head, Tony Houston, asked me to speak to faculty about mentoring students who study both international business and languages.
- The fundamentals of packaging both business and language skills for the job market.
- What’s the value added of business + language?
- What’s the ROI on a language degree?
- Use b-school devices like the elevator pitch and STAR to practice for job interviews.
Working with faculty is always a pleasure–largely because I know the number of students that will be reached is exponentially more than when I work with relatively small groups of humanities students.
I heard this from one faculty member who was able to deploy the networking activity that we workshopped (What’s the ROI on a language degree?) in her class two days after my visit:
I had my Reading and Writing students practice their greetings at the beginning of class yesterday, and they loved it! It was a timely activity for many of them, who will be interviewing for international internships in the next few weeks.
The topics we cover in faculty workshops are flexible–I always offer a lot of suggestions so faculty can pick and choose based on their own comfort level. Not comfortable integrating professional networking into the pair & group work your student do? Then try making every in-class presentation practice for the job interview. If that’s not your cup of tea either, use letter of recommendation requests as an opportunity to give students practice with cover letter writing.
The beauty of weaving professional development into already-exisiting curricula is that it can be layered on to class almost spontaneously (as the above example with Reading and Writing students shows), it only takes a small bit of class time to do, and it has high impact value for students who want explicit connections between their humanities courses and their own career goals.
In a higher ed environment that finds liberal arts programs increasingly under fire for low enrollments, lack of job placement / relevance to careers, and failure to generate income for departmental self-sufficiency, weaving in professional development training is a low stakes way to have high impact.
In my newsletter column, “Weaving Career Prep into the Humanities Curriculum,” I choose one strategy for integrating workplace skills into your courses and walk you through how to deploy it in class. To subscribe to my faculty newsletter that comes out every other month (look for the next one at the beginning of May), click on the “Sign Up Now” button to the right under “Subscribe to Monthly Newsletters” or click here for the link.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in academic writing, job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. To schedule a campus workshop or for help navigating your career transition, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org