The Practical Liberal Arts

Hiring managers, well-meaning family members, and media pundits continue to assume the liberal arts are the educational breeding ground for the exploratory and artsy, producing graduates who have neither job skills nor job prospects. Instead of crisp technicians ready to crunch numbers and take home bonus pay, these misguided people think liberal arts majors are…

What Managers Want: Three Advantages for Liberal Arts Students

Recently, I attended a session where psychologist Ken Nowack talked about the ins and outs of management feedback at work.  Dr. Nowack’s research looks into how managers and supervisors who deliver feedback badly can actually cause physical harm to the employees they’re criticizing or advising.  Study after study proves that how feedback is delivered directly…

Liberal Arts “Skills”: What Are They?

In our culture, we believe that personal development is a matter of acquiring skills.  The more skills you acquire, the more capable you are.  We identify just about everything as a “skill”—basic motor skills, interpersonal skills, supervisory skills, negotiating skills, presentation skills, parenting skills, carpentry skills, sewing skills, culinary skills, social media skills. Frankly, I…

Looking for the Launchpad

I teach in the School of Business at Portland State, a class called “Advanced Business Communication” aimed at helping about-to-be accountants, supply chain managers, marketing staff, financial analysts, and operational managers be better writers and speakers in their future jobs.  I’m always happily surprised by the business students’ level of engagement, not only about my class…

Spring Career Fairs and Liberal Arts Majors

 It’s spring, that time of year here in the northern hemisphere when trees push out new leaves from dormant limbs, days get longer, and snows turn to showers (unless you’re in the northeastern part of the U.S., still waiting for the day you can put away the snow shovel!).  It’s also the time of year…

Career Changes: Who’s Ready?

                    My youngest brother is a firefighter.  Or I guess I have to say now he was a firefighter.  The department recently forced him to resign. It’s complicated, and I’m not going into the reasons here because they’re not the point.           “I’ve been a firefighter my whole life,” he said to me on the…

Do Hiring Managers “Get It”?

  One thing everyone in business will agree is in universally short supply:  Time.  Increased competition drives the pace of business.  That, combined with the need to get more work done with fewer people—especially in an era when lay-offs are just “business as usual”—is transforming time into a resource of inestimable value.  Business people are…