Whitman College Provides More than Meets the Eye

Sean, Hannah

Many majors at Whitman are ambiguous in terms of what they offer – even if we’re getting good grades, it can be scary thinking about the future because majors tend to not provide skillsets that apply to specific careers. It can be nerve-racking when we have friends getting majors in social work or engineering while we are struggling to visualize how our liberal arts major will help us in the future.

I would make the argument that Whitman does one of the best jobs at preparing students for success in future careers. First off, Whitman alumni are helpful in assisting job and internship-seeking students locate positions. Because they have been in our shoes and fully understand how scary it can be looking for work out of Whitman, they want to connect with students through LinkedIn and events like Whitties Helping Whitties to help secure employment. They not only provide their own contact information but they are ready and willing to help us connect to people they know. Even if they don’t know whether or not that person’s company actually needs new employees, they believe in the importance of building stronger networks. I believe the Whitman networking alumni to be much more personal, dependable and friendly than those at other, bigger schools.

Whitman might not teach easily applicable skills, but we are given the tools to enter any job through either pursuit of higher education opportunities or by applying the skills of writing, critical thinking and public speaking to the careers we enter. Writing is a vital aspect of the majority of white collar careers – the tasks of writing up a project proposal, newsletter or a letter are required in many jobs. The amount that Whitman stresses writing gives us a lot of flexibility – no one has to be a chemist right after graduating with a chemistry major.

Learning how to write, think critically and speak publicly at Whitman gives us huge advantages when applying to jobs, even when the majors we earned are not directly related to the job opportunity at hand. Knowledgeable employers know Whitman graduates can learn quickly and think critically. With any job that requires specific training, Whitman provides a strong underlying groundwork. Through its challenging academics and programs such as pre-med and pre-law it churns out minds primed for the higher-level thinking of graduate school.

When people say that Whitman’s curriculum does not provide tangible skills that apply to a specific job, they are forgetting that many jobs often have more than one type of skill incorporated into them. Yes, some elite jobs – engineers, doctors, dentists – require large knowledge in a narrow field, however there are also careers like urban development that require broader backgrounds in sociology, psychology and economics in order to conceptualize and create a city block that benefits its inhabitants to the highest degree.

Lastly, Whitman College takes steps to provide us opportunities to see what working within our majors is like. The social sciences, arts, humanities and sciences all give students great opportunities to do hands-on work with professors. It is from these experiences that we gain the self-confidence that fuels us in the real world.