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What do I do with a general degree?

High school student Explore Careers
Answer

This is a good question—and a common one. Even if you didn’t specialize in a discipline that would lead you to a particular job, but have pursued a general degree program, many opportunities are available to you.

If you’re looking for work, focus less on the content you learned at school and more on the learning skills you acquired. Many of these skills are transferable to interesting jobs.

Identify Your Skills

A general degree likely taught you numerous valuable skills:

  • Communication. You understand information in many formats, from words to tables to multimedia. You can develop information and get your points across. You can synthesize ideas, listen, ask questions and find answers.
  • Adaptability. You’ve spent years doing your own independent work and contributing to group projects. That taught you how to focus and take responsibility, as well as work with a team and accept feedback and criticism.
  • Problem solving. Studying for midterms, writing essays, presenting seminars—all of that gave you skills to identify problems and think of solutions.
  • Creativity. Many general programs, like history, English and theatre, demand that you imagine yourself in another place and time, and debate or write convincingly about it. Many employers value such creativity.

Put Your Skills to Use

The first place to put your problem-solving and creative skills to use is in identifying what work you want to do and who you want to work for.

Identify a practical skill you have, like website design, blogging, acting or activism. Use your creativity to imagine how you might adapt it to a suitable company. Use your problem-solving and communication skills to play it up on your resumé.

While you’re searching for work, do some volunteering in a related field. Make connections and see what you can learn. Or top off your degree with a one-year professional certificate.

For more ideas, search the Canada Job Bank Career Tool. Simply enter a subject to see what others with similar backgrounds are doing for work. For example, if you enter “liberal arts and sciences (bachelor’s),” you will see that graduates are working in a wide range of jobs including teaching, administration, retail sales, and communications.

The skills you acquired while completing your degree will help you throughout your working life. Using them to kick-start your career is just a matter of how you market them.