by Kaitlyn Sutton

Although Anne Long ‘81 has held executive leadership roles within Fortune 500 companies and is a nationally recognized business consultant, she admits that she had no idea where her career path would lead her when she graduated from Temple with a political science degree.

“I found a Canadian life insurance company that only hired liberal arts majors, and they had a training program where they said, ‘We can teach you the business side of things. Business majors think they already know everything about business, so we like to hire liberal arts majors because they think differently.’”

Long, the newly elected chair of the College of Liberal Arts Board of Visitors, was one of several distinguished alumni on campus last week for a panel discussion sponsored by Board of Visitors member and 2014 Liberal Arts Gallery of Success inductee Leonard Mazur ’68, titled “Back to the Future: Your Liberal Arts Degree and the Changing World of Work.”

You need to really dig deep to learn who you are, and you get a great opportunity to do that here.

The panel, which included Liberal Arts alums Winsome Bowen ’85, Dr. Anthony Buffone ’93, Phil Charron ’92 and Joyce Salzberg ’69, focused on the valuable role the liberal arts continues to play in a seismically shifting job market. Facilitated by Dean Richard Deeg, who interspersed pre-submitted student questions with personal anecdotes that drew laughter from the packed room, the panel was immediately followed by roundtable discussions where students had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with each panelist. 

"Right now we have a workforce that has three different groups,” said Dr. Anthony Buffone, Board of Visitor and President of Strategic Identity Consulting, LLC. “We have our Baby Boomers, our Gen Xers and our Millennials. We have three separate work styles. One trend we're seeing with Millennials is that they aren't staying as long in a job. They'll stay as long as it works out for them, and then they'll leave. So companies are adapting to that, to get you your training real fast to get you up to speed as soon as possible."

Millennials — those born between about 1980 and the mid-1990s — really are the job hoppers people say they are. A 2016 Gallup report uncovered that 21 percent of Millennial workers had left their job in the last year to do something else, a number that is more than three times higher than that of non-Millennials.

Reflecting on Millennials entering the workforce, Phil Charron, Senior Vice President for Philadelphia-based experience design firm Think Company, said he is not surprised that workplace culture is evolving, especially regarding liberal arts graduates who enter the job market with a blend of intellectual curiosity and the capacity to communicate their talents and needs so effectively.

"Workplace interactions are changing,” Charron said. “You guys [Millennials] are changing the way that we work in a very positive way. In this world of subscription-based software, we have started giving people the environment that they want and the work that keeps them happy.”

One student’s question regarding passion led to a discussion about finding and sustaining happiness within a career.

“Follow your curiosity,” Long said. “You need to really dig deep to learn who you are, and you get a great opportunity to do that here."




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