What Do You Do With That?

by | Nov 30, 2023


I majored in art history in college, which meant I was asked regularly, “what do you do with that?” A lot, as it turns out.

As a student, eager to learn, I loved how courses transported me to another time and place. I was fascinated by different cultures and how people throughout history found their own ways to document events, emotions, and social circumstances. It was time well spent, and that alone holds a great deal of value for me.


Today, as a writer and designer, I recognize the benefits run far deeper. Exploring other ways, traditions, and forms of expression broadened my perspective and forced me to think more deeply. To consider sweeping narratives and faint subtleties. To form my own opinion and value others’. Among other things, my humanities degree taught me…

  • How to problem-solve. There’s not one way or reason to create an artwork, nor is there a single interpretation of it. Working amid so much subjectivity taught me to follow my instincts, explore, experiment, and grow as a student and still today.

  • How to empathize. So many themes repeat themselves across cultures and centuries, they’re just articulated differently. Realizing these commonalities has made it easier for me to relate to others and produce content that resonates with different audiences.

  • How to research, think critically and analyze. So much of art history is about understanding the why. Why this subject matter … color … composition …  Often, finding the answer meant ingesting, and then, making sense of, mass volumes of visual and written content—not unlike what is required when I’m beginning a new project or client relationship.

  • How to communicate. After all the researching, thinking, and analyzing, I’d have to form and explain my opinion on a subject. This required a constant honing of both my written and verbal communication skills, which I continue to use Every. Single. Day.

Bonus skills include time management, prioritization, listening, curiosity, and attention to detail. Of course, none of this is specific to art history. I imagine, most any humanities degree program encourages students to develop practical skills that apply to a range of industries and careers.

Personally, I’ve worked in research, strategic, creative, and leadership roles. Rather than feel hindered by my skillset, I’ve been empowered to use it to take ownership of my responsibilities and tackle each task thoughtfully and creatively. I cherish my education, and I’m sure I’m not the only humanities graduate who feels that way.

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