Arts students need more career guidance than two career fairs a year – and we might only be getting one

Lack of career advice and information available for Arts and Humanities students perpetuates the unemployed-arts-student stereotype, and promotes doubt and confusion for students as they attempt to enter the workforce

After attending the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Career Inspiration Event, which took place last November, I left with more questions about my potential future career options than answers. While the fair was worth the time and did somewhat inform me of my options, it did more to highlight exactly how unprepared I was before the event. Though I remained largely in just one career section of the fair for the entirety of the hour and a half we were given to chat and ask questions to the alumni present with most of that time spent in lines for a relatively brief group chat with one industry professional before the same with the next I felt like I still had more to gain from that section alone.

At the event it was said that talks were ongoing about another fair, should this one be successful. However, I am inclined to believe that two fairs a year should be the minimum opportunity of its kind, especially given the short length of such events. Such broad degrees need to be informed of their options just as much, if not more so, than more straightforward career degrees such as nursing or engineering. Two career fairs a year would prove to be a great tool for students to learn about their options, but not enough as stand-alone events. While having the opportunity to ask questions is vital, it cannot fill its maximum potential when we do not first know what we need to know about. If these alumni, who generously volunteer their time, were invited to do quick talks about the basics of their fields and what they believe is important to know going into them, these events would be hugely beneficial for students to be then able to figure out if it is the right path for them, and what more they need to know. Even if this information was delivered in the form of a snippet of writing alongside their page in the alumni network, or alongside their name in the career event support pack, it would have helped students to feel less like they were heading in blind to both the career events and their future career paths.

“These mentorship fairs seem like step 2 or 3 when it comes to pursuing a career.”

When it comes to exploring your future career, it is intimidating to look at a broad field you have never worked in before, and impossible to immediately know whether it is something you want to pursue. While these career fairs are informative, they are very much a you-get-what-you-put-into-them process, and if you know the right questions to ask, and the right sections to ask them in, you will leave more prepared and informed about your options. However, this is not the case for a lot of students in a broad degree, and it is clear to me that these career fairs only reach their maximum benefit when you know what you want to get out of them prior to attending. These mentorship fairs seem like step 2 or 3 when it comes to pursuing a career. If you are not sure of what area you would like to go into, nevermind what specific path within that area you would be interested in pursuing, it seems a jump to assume you will figure both of those things out and leave the fair with a mentor all in the two-hour slot you have been given.

A second career fair for the Arts and Humanities should not just be considered, but the standard bare minimum of resources for us. Career fairs and the alumni network have the potential to be highly beneficial for exploring and breaking into a number of sectors that an Arts degree opens up for students, but not while they are in the dark about what those options are in the first place.

Abby Cleaver

Abby Cleaver is the current life editor at Trinity News, having previously served as comment editor, and is a final year English literature and philosophy student.