Dear My Fellow Humanities Students

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about my major and studying in the humanities field. As you know, I am an art history major, and when I tell this to people, it leads to some very interesting responses. Many of the adults instantly become uncomfortable and say something along the lines of “Good luck” that actually sounds like “you-are-a-naive-child-and-you-will-regret-this.” Some people just don’t know how to respond, so they bluntly ask “Why?” with a frown on their face. I’ve actually had someone sarcastically say to me, “Why not, right?” as if I made a joke.

But what do you expect in this time and age, when it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job after graduation and you must carry a heavy burden of college loans on your shoulders? It is no surprise that engineering majors make more money after graduation than performing arts majors. Most humanities majors work in fields that are unrelated to their areas of study, and all in all, it just seems impractical for anyone to choose a humanities major.

So that’s why I’ve been thinking so much. Should I keep pursuing what I love doing, or should I think about my “future” and choose a more practical path? The answer I have formed is this: As long as you constantly think about what you want at the end of your college career and work hard to achieve it, then you should pursue whatever you want. I firmly believe that what I choose to do now and how I do it all impacts my future. If I choose to work hard and take opportunities now, then they’re all investments toward my future goals, and I will achieve what I want in the end.

Okay, maybe I’m being overly optimistic and naive. Maybe in three years or so, I will be crying on the dirty floor of some cheap apartment somewhere in America, complaining about how I am a poor college graduate and nobody would hire me. But what matters is now, and there are so many opportunities for humanities majors out there that are just waiting to be taken.

For example, Rochester has a great program called “Art in New York,” which is an internship program for any art or art history students who want to learn about a career in the arts while living in New York City. During the spring semester, you live in NYC and complete an internship that counts for credit hours and helps you gain insight into the field of work that you are interested in. What is great about this program, and with any internship, is that you gain real experience in the field and it is not a permanently binding job. Many people decide after an internship that maybe the work is not for them, and they move onto other work that suits them better.

You don’t have to rely on the school for job and internship opportunities. Look online for any internships and volunteering opportunities that are related to the type of job you want in the future. As an art history major, I am specifically interested in museum operations and curating. I looked for museum internships near Chicago, where I will be this summer, and applied to a few institutions. I am looking forward to an exciting museum internship this summer and learning more in-depth about a career in the museum field.

Of course, doing internships and gaining experience do not guarantee a job in the future. But if you think about it, nothing guarantees anyone a job in the future. What I’m trying to say is: To all of my fellow humanities majors and those of you who still do not know what to study but have an interest in humanities, do not be scared to go after what you want. Do not be discouraged by people telling you that there is no future in your major, that you will be disappointed after graduation. As long as you have a clear goal in mind and strong motivation to pursue what you love doing, keep doing it.

About the author

YooJung Chun

I'm a member of the Class of 2018, and I am majoring in art history. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, before moving to Chicago. I'm the Publicity Chair for the Korean American Students' Association, and I also take piano lessons at the Eastman School of Music.

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