Considering a New Year: The Virtues and Vices

The new year is full of possibilities (exciting) and unknowns (scary). 2018 has come barreling through the gates at the heels of an incredibly eventful and unpredictable year. 2017 was … well, it was something. With a president at the helm unlike any we have ever seen, multiple global tragedies including Manchester, London, New York, and Barcelona terrorist attacks, and sexual misconduct cases shaking up the political and entertainment industries, 2017 was a year (for better or worse) to be remembered.


With 2018 in our midst, we begin looking for change, making resolutions to better ourselves and the world around us. It is comforting to start a new year. It always seems filled with hope. A fresh start. A clean slate. However, the amount of unknown in the next year can bring a lot of anxiety as well. In my case, 2018 will include graduation and a very daunting job hunt.


Rather than pursuing further higher education right off of the bat, I decided to take a gap year or two. The aim is to gain some work experience and to do some self-evaluation before I decide to dedicate my life to academia. As the year moves forward, the future is looking to be one big black hole of unknowns. Finding a full-time job is one thing many humanities majors feel anxious about at one point or another. We know we are smart and good workers and we have passion and a love of learning, but it is difficult sometimes to known how best to articulate the skills you have gained with a humanities degree.


Though it means the world to us personally, how do you communicate the importance of empathy and connection to a potential employer? Unfortunately, chances are low that an interviewer will spend the time asking you to elaborate on the deeper implications of punctuation in Emily Dickinson’s poetry, the significance of how Milton invokes the Muse, or the misleading interpretations of witchcraft in early American court documents on which you have just spent two months composing a paper. Like many of my peers, this new stage in my life is rather terrifying. How do I translate my papers into the kinds of things can I put on a resume that would make me look valuable to a hiring committee?


With the guidance of a trusted faculty member, to answer this question, I started studying gifts (or talents). Before when people told me I had talents like “you work well in small groups,” “you have empathy,” “you make people feel comfortable” or “you have a strong work ethic,” those only counted to me as soft answers because I had no other talents to speak of. However, these have become some of the most valuable skill sets as I consider some of these larger life questions—some of which come naturally to me, but others have come through my training as a humanities student.


In my studies, it became clear to me that these “soft” talents are flexible and versatile. As I search for a job, these are things that open doors for me rather than close them. They allow me to adapt and do well in whatever scenario I find myself. The challenge for me, then, is not the work itself, but choosing a work in which I can feel satisfied and fulfilled. Where can I put my talents to their best use? This question has been a lot less intimidating to try to answer in the face of all the new opportunities in the next year. There might not be one “right” answer. Sometimes it is just about making the best decisions with the information available to you at the time and letting the year take its course. So bring it on 2018!


This post was written by Holly Boud, Humanities Center Intern

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