Rachel Weiringa is a self-proclaimed book-nerd and tea lover and is always on the lookout for a chance to write anything, really. She's one semester into a work term through the Arts Work Experience program and is on the road to completing an Arts degree with an English major and Linguistics minor.
Why did you choose Arts? What does being an Arts student mean to you?
I was in Science my first semester, and I was having a less-than-enjoyable time. I enjoyed university life and working towards an education, but I absolutely hated what I was studying. My saving grace was the one Arts course I was taking: my required 3 credits of English. After a lot of thought, I decided -- by myself -- to switch into Arts as an English major. It is, to date, the best decision I have made for myself.
An Arts degree allows me to explore so many different options for a career while also giving me an education that I care about. I see the Arts as expanding one’s mind creatively. It's about seeing the bigger picture while keeping in mind all of the parts it's made of.
What about those who say that Arts grads struggle to attain gainful employment?
A degree is what you make it - be passionate about what you’re studying. I always hear supervisors during my work experience say, "You can teach someone how to use a program, or how to follow steps, but you can't teach them dedication, passion, and hard work. That's what really stands out in an interview."
Any advice for the more stressful times?
I learned very quickly that friends are probably the most important de-stresser you can have. Don't close yourself off; spend time with people you love. It will pay off infinitely.
What opportunities on campus or abroad would you recommend?
The Arts Work Experience (AWE) Program gave me an opportunity to take a first step in finding out what I like, what I'm good at, and what to work on in a job setting. I finally understand when they say "experience is the greatest teacher". Because of AWE I have a greater understanding of what I will take from my degree and how I will use it in my future career. I've already learned so much in so little time!
How can AWE fit into your degree? Learn more about Arts Work Experience here!
What would you tell yourself 3 years ago?
It's easy to do what people say you should do, or to follow the advice of what job is "in demand," or what job supposedly pays the most. But if you're studying something you're not interested in, you find out how difficult it really is to spend all day, every day, pretending you're passionate about something you're really not. It sounds clichéd, but if you really love what you do, it makes life incredibly more enjoyable.
Edited for length and clarity, Fall 2018.