That fourth year studying French philosophers or Italian literature might be tempting, but is it going to help you get a job? Probably not. Today’s college students are thinking less about their intellectual pursuits and more about their employability after graduation. This is sad for those of us who studied topics such as cultural and intellectual history back in the day, but it’s the hard reality of a more global world and a rebounding international economy. If you want to get a job and start a career after college, you need to get started while you are still in school. Here are five of the best courses you can take while fulfilling the requirements of your degree:
1. Computer Programming. Not fun for a liberal arts major, and probably not very interesting if you are planning a career in social work, teaching or some other field that requires you to be more creative and less techie. However, just a little know-how gleaned from a single semester will help you survive in the computer-driven corporate world and make you more employable. You don’t have to know how to build a computer or write software, but a basic understanding of Java or Python will help your employment prospects and give you something to discuss with your IT department.
2. Economics. Most colleges break this down into macroeconomics and microeconomics. If you can only fit one into your college schedule, take micro. You will get a broad overview of what economies are all about, and you’ll leave the class understanding costs, values and prices. Some majors will require at least an introductory course, but make sure you take at least one to become educated on how many of the world economic systems work.
3. Communications. This might be a mass communication course, a public speaking course or a simple writing class. In order to exist in your career, you need to know how to effectively communicate a message—and not just a text message. Take a class that will teach you how to explain, describe, share and debate. A good communications course will give you a complex topic, teach you how to think about it analytically and then require you to write or speak about it to multiple audiences. That’s going to help you get and keep a job in the real world.
4. Statistics. I know, more math. The reason statistics is important is because no matter what sort of career you are planning to pursue, you will need to look at, organize and understand data. An intro to statistics class will help you do this. Knowing numbers will only help your employment prospects.
5. Financial Planning or Financial Management. If your school does not offer anything like this, consider a business management or a business accounting class. Think of this as a core class not just for your employment prospects, but for your personal life as well. Look for a class that offers accounting basics as well as analysis and forecasting. You will want to be able to understand business management basics, such as how to read a profit and loss statement, what goes into a financial ledger and how to figure out what to spend based on what you’ve earned.