Uni blues

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Some might say I came to Queen’s for the wrong reasons.

Tradition dictates that arts students don’t go to university for career preparation. Instead, we come to this place of “higher learning” to develop skills in critical thinking, reading, writing and analysis. If you want practicality, you go to college.

Yet five years ago, I felt that going to Queen’s would be a good stepping stone to a job in my yet-to-be-determined career path. I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue as a career, and I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself in a vocational program.

I imagine there are lots of students out there like me. This justification for coming to university is becoming more and more reasonable as enrolment numbers soar and job markets become increasingly cutthroat.

The problem, however, is that arts faculties at universities like Queen’s aren’t adapting to the growing number of career-focused students.

I now know that I want to be a journalist, and I’ve been lucky enough to get practical experience through my time working at the Journal. However, I still feel I could have been more formally prepared.

This feeling of unpreparedness hits particularly hard when I see my peers in vocational programs, such as commerce, graduate with finely honed interview skills, networking experience and an exchange or co-op placement under their belts.

The skills arts grads develop could be invaluable to the same employers commerce or engineering students are hoping to be hired by. For example, the oratory skills a drama student develops could make them a key candidate for a sales position.

But the resources the University offers arts students are limited, putting us at a disadvantage. Queen’s co-op programs are heavily science- and engineering-focused, and there are few networking, recruiting and career skills events targeted to arts students.

Many arts students are here to gain critical learning skills, but we need formal support from the University, the Faculty and our student government to translate them into practical experience. These days, we need practicality to make us as competitive as possible in a tough job market.

Times are changing, and the university needs to adapt to the shifting purpose of our education.

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