Academic and Student Engagement
Three and a half years into my degree, I realized that what I had was not a nearly completed degree but rather fragments of degrees in a program that was about to become obsolete. I even feel the nostalgic panic running through my fingertips as I recall that time in my life. Fortunately, I stumbled into the World Literature program in 2014 and the rest is history (and tons of close reading).
Not only did I end up declaring a World Literature major a year later, but have been given the opportunity to be a part of the editorial team for the department’s student-run Lyre Magazine as well as participate in the World Literature Student Conference as both a presenter and member of the volunteer committee. These opportunities have helped me to feel more engaged in my program and affirmed about my degree choice, and have been invaluable in helping me to widen my skill set and career prospects.
Despite the impulse to redirect everyone that’s ever asked me what I plan to do with my degree to Career Services, I’ve found that SFU offers multiple resources – many of which are available on campus! – that can be extremely helpful in both answering the questions of others as well as your own.
Personally, I’ve found that workshops like Classroom to Career offered by Career Services have been instrumental in helping me to see connections between my interests and experiences.
Yes, essays may be inevitable. And so may early mornings late nights pouring over essay edits and copious cups of caffeine. But whether you want to pursue an academic career or are revving up to move on to the next chapter of your life, the attention to detail and critical thinking skills you gain through (obsessive) close reading and text analysis can be valuable to just about any work environment.
In my time at SFU, I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in two different co-op positions: one as an English Language Assistant in Catalonia, Spain and the other as an Events and Communications Intern at the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC (CPABC).
At the time I began working as an English Language Assistant, I had just completed my first two semesters in the World Literature program before leaving for a school year to teach in Catalonia. (Mind you, I barely knew how to say anything in Spanish beyond “me llamo Dora”. True story.) But the cross-cultural awareness fostered by the World Literature program encouraged me to not only learn Spanish but to learn how to adapt to new environments – quickly and wholeheartedly. One of those situations involved taking the wrong train home one night and having to stay a night in the village of Calafell… two provinces away from where I was staying in Girona. Both a true and fun story.
Adaptability was also a key tenet of my experience working as an Events and Communications intern with CPABC. I had never worked in an office environment prior to the position, and my social media and communications background wasn’t much more proficient than my (arguably excessive) personal use of platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But aside from learning the administrative ropes that came with working in an office environment, I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly I was able to adapt and thrive in the role, such as through honing my writing skills by writing and editing for the organization’s online news blog.
Overall, I found the skills I’ve gained through my Arts degree complemented my co-operative education experiences in the sense that I was able to see how what I learned in the classroom setting translated into a work environment. One of those observations was that there was an intentional – and highly pragmatic – purpose for my writing skills.
So What Do You Plan to Do With Your Degree?
You might have an answer and you might be clamoring to find another way to say “still figuring it out”. But if there’s anything I want to impart, it’s that there are as many options as there are opportunities to create opportunities. The career trajectory following a degree in the Arts and Social Sciences may not always be immediately evident but I am convinced that clarity comes with exploration.
Fun fact: Explorations was the name of the program I was in before it became obsolete. So yes, pun 100% intended.
Beyond the Blog
To learn more about opportunities like Abby's, visit the Arts and Social Sciences Co-op homepage