Careers in Individualized Studies - An Overview
So you have finished your IS program and looking to start your career? Here are some tips and advice for you.
Very often, the connections between an undergraduate major and later work or study are very clear. An English major leads to graduate work in English, to teaching English and literature, to journalism, law, and library science, and so on.
Individualized Studies is so individual that no such career road-map is possible. So students ask, with good reason, what happens to me if I graduate with so vague a major?
Graduate schools, professional schools, and employers look at many things. They look at grades, they look at letters from professors, they look at your writing, and, very importantly, at the canniness of your letters of intent. And, school aside, they look at your experiences, paid or volunteer, outside the classroom. All in all, they look at the whole applicant.
Now, do they look at majors on your transcript? Some. But they also look at what you know and what you have learned to do. It follows that, for, say, graduate work in English, one need not be an English major. On the other hand, the graduate school will want to know that you have studied a lot of literature, one way or another, and that you have mastered a body of literary theory. And a school of social work will want to see not a given social science but relevant learning. As will a programme in public health, or a law school, and so on.
It therefore follows that students in Individualized Studies must keep their post-York goals in mind as they assemble the components of their degree. And they should pick their extra-curricular employment, services, and adventures with an eye to the whole self they are assembling.
It is very valuable, in third year or so at York, to begin to network with potential schools and employers. Sound them out carefully: what do you want to see in applicants? Schools are usually very happy to dialogue with potential applicants. Employers, unlike schools, vary in their treatment of the job pool, but very often one can find a good informant or helpful office. The best advice is to treat the world with the same flexible, canny initiative that Individualized Studies demands of its majors in handling York.
Be assertive, and keep your ears and eyes open. And when you see a path for you, go for it! Flexibility and inventiveness pay off.
Want to discuss more specific career options? Please contact the Program coordinator directly to arrange an appointment.