Last year, your philosophy major didn’t seem as impractical as it does now that unemployment is at 7.2 percent and rising. It feels like the job market got extra tough – all of a sudden. We consulted some professional career counselors for advice on what quick steps you can take to make yourself more appealing to the few companies that are still hiring.

When you first declared your philosophy major, family and friends may have thought it was cool, lauding the benefits of a true, liberal arts education. But now that some 55,000 people found themselves out of work – in one day – Jan. 26, 2009, those same folks may be looking at you funny as you talk to them about graduation presents and summer plans.

Instead of trying to convince the Registrar’s Office to send out another’s transcript as your own, read below for some crib notes on how to make yourself more appealing to employers. OK, read fast; you have a lot of work to do! Or do you?

A good resume showcases a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge; businesses don’t want you to discuss the meaning of the job, they want you to be able to do it, cost effectively and creatively, if necessary.

“There is no substitute for years of experience,” says Sean Card, Practice Manager and Senior Recruiter at Zion Partners. “Internships. Whether you are unpaid, or paid poorly, internships require working for a company and helping them solve business problems, which makes them valuable.”

Regardless of what field you want to enter, the streamlined business world of today wants to see that you have done what you are trying to do before. If you want to be a teacher, you better have done some student teaching. If it’s Wall Street you want, recruiters will be looking for practical business experience in addition to economics courses. And, while you’re picking up real world experience, you can save up some capital in the Good Karma bank.

“Get out from behind your computer and network. Find ways to help other people.  Give away a lot of nickels, and they’ll come back as dimes,” advises Steven Rothberg, founder and president of “If you’re volunteering for a non-profit, chances are its board members and committee heads are movers and shakers within that community. If your work has impressed them, they’ll likely recommend you when one of their friends, colleagues or vendors has a job opening for someone with your qualifications.”

“Dude, I thought I could major in history or philosophy and then go to law school – but now even lawyers are being fired,” says an acquaintance of mine.

True, the economic downturn has hit all sectors of our economy. So, don’t pretend, or change your plans because someone down the hall said it was a sure thing.

You went to college for yourself, in order to become the best version of you in the long term. Stick with your desired degree.

Sadly, you’ll likely have to be prepared to work for less money and take more time to repay the loans that have enabled the degree that you will receive. But, in the big picture, sticking to your passions, getting your degree and still dealing with roommates after graduation will pay off.  

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