Spotlight Magazine: Alumni Interview Project

The AHSC’s Spotlight: Redefining the Arts and Humanities Graduate

As any student could attest, university life is all about questions—the ones we ask ourselves, the ones others ask us, and ultimately, the “Big Question:” what are you going to do with your degree?

                Arts and Humanities students feel the pressures of this question acutely. An Arts and Humanities degree is sometimes seen as limiting in terms of career options—and so it is, when the students receiving these degrees have been offered a limited view of what their degree can do for them. Enter: Spotlight.

                Over the past six years, the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council has released Spotlight, an annual publication of alumni profiles. Each year, a team of student interviewers speak with and ultimately write a profile on a graduate of the Arts and Humanities centred around the alum’s experience as a Western student and the career path they have forged in the years since graduating. Their stories showcase the range of available pathways for graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. In Spotlight, we aim to dispel those long-held misconceptions about graduates of the Arts and Humanities as unemployable or lacking in critical skills for the workforce. Spotlight exists to prove that the workforce needs people with creativity, innovative ideas, critical thinking and close reading skills. These are skills that have led our graduates to careers in both the corporate and creative worlds.

                We’ve been fortunate over our six years to feature alumni from every corner of the workforce, showcasing as many possible uses for an Arts and Humanities degree as we can find. Two years ago, as an interviewer for Spotlight, I was assigned to interview Kim Mason, Senior Vice President and Head, RBC Private Banking Canada. At the time, that felt like a career path far outside my own understanding. Not familiar with financial jargon, I worried about my ability to conduct that interview like a professional, and even wondered what the value of an English degree was in a discipline so far outside the realm of what I considered possible for A&H students. I was enlightened by our interview— as I am by so many each year— by the ways in which an Arts and Humanities education is applicable in the business and financial sectors. Empathy, creativity, communication, team-work—all key elements of an Arts and Humanities education and all pertinent to Kim’s position as a leader. But what surprised me most was not that Kim could explain the value of her Arts degree, rather, it was that she had immense pride in it. “Be true to yourself,” I remember she said. “And celebrate the fact that you were smart enough to get a degree in the Arts and Humanities.”

                All that said, there is no ideal Spotlight participant. The beauty of this project is that it is most successful when it showcases a range of degrees, careers, and stories. Our alumni have always been candid about their doubts and course corrections. They assure students that it is okay to change your mind or choose a different path, and students benefit from the assurance that there is no single path for a graduate from the faculty. Students aren’t looking for the biggest job title or the most degrees. There is no expectation for a Spotlight participant to have the perfect Arts-based job, nor a career far outside the realm of the expected A&H path. We’re looking for passion for the Arts and Humanities and an understanding of its worth  in an age that increasingly values the creative mind and process. want alumni who are interested in redefining the Arts and Humanities graduate and in reassuring and inspiring a new generation of A&H students. We want to hear your story.

Interested in sharing your story?
Contact us for the 2022-2023 issue of SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight 2022
Spotlight 2021
Spotlight 2020
Spotlight 2019
Spotlight 2018