Abstract degrees may equal job security

Marissa Campbell

Deciding which major to choose can be difficult because are many options and interesting university degrees at Wichita State to consider.

Some students may want to major in teaching or nursing, where they know jobs and careers are readily available. Others will major in sociology or a foreign language, which may be nerve-wracking when it is time to find a job. 

Although it may seem difficult, many of the students majoring in these “abstract,” liberal arts degrees said it will be quite simple to find the career that they desire.

“I moved around a lot, trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” junior Kayla McLaughlin said. “I’ve always been interested in sign language and deaf culture, and then I took a class with a girl who was deaf and the interpreter there and it blew my mind. That’s when I knew I wanted a career in this.”

McLaughlin said many people might think an interpreting career is hard to find due to the lack of demand, but it actually is not. Interpreters are contracted out by different companies and will float between them depending on when they are needed.

There are also two different kinds of sign language used by English speakers. American Sign Language is used mostly by the deaf community and is more conversational. Signing Exact English is word-for-word, including grammar.

The complicated part about interpreting is many interpreters should know both types.

“Students that are deaf and need an interpreter may struggle on their homework if the interpreter doesn’t know Signing Exact English,” McLaughlin said. “They struggle because they are smart and can speak and read English, they just don’t know all of the stylistics that go with it, which is why I’m going to learn both.”

Although the intensive classes and amount of material may intimidate some students, those who are interested should not stray away.

“It is a great asset to have in everyday life,” said Susan Goodwyn, a sign language instructor. “Being able to communicate with a person who doesn’t hear can provide many avenues whether that’s friendships with people who are deaf or using the signing skills in another job.”

Sign language and sociology majors agree the job hunt is fairly easy for them.

That may come as a shock, but since there are fewer majors in those fields there may be more opportunities available to these students, especially if they partake in internships or go on to graduate school.

“[Most everyone] in the WSU sociology department has a job coming out of grad school,” graduate student Jacob Erickson said. “The skills you get from statistical analysis are really marketable and really useful in lots of different jobs.”

Many sociology majors either work as professors or as statistical analysts, which work for companies using statistical software procedures for marketing-based purposes, such as discovering what people are buying or watching to help companies cater their commercials and products to customers’ needs. 

“The department here is really awesome as well,” Erikson said. “All of the professors are really good to work with.”