You are sitting with your academic adviser planning out your classes for senior year. She tells you that in addition to your required courses, you still have one more elective to take. She suggests Intro to Poetry. You are a science major. You balk, maybe even laugh a little.
Don’t blow her off just yet. She knows something you don’t. What you are missing is that extra skill that will set you apart from your fellow graduates. She has suggested poetry because she knows it is the last class you would ever choose for yourself, but she also knows it has potential to make your name stand out against the sea of biology majors who will become your competition for a job. Do yourself a favor, and take the poetry class. It will be worth your time.
• The business world is looking for someone well-rounded. Today, networking is key. Connections in business can start on a personal level, and the advantage lies in exhibiting interest in aspects of life other than your direct field of study. Not many people want to talk about work after they have clocked out. It’s time to show a little culture. You might find yourself networking with a biologist that loves to read and has an appreciation for the written word. Knock their socks off with your personal analysis of what Theodore Roethke was eluding to in My Papa’s Waltz.
• Sentence structure is just as important in your scientific reports as it is in Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise. You want your future manager or fellow scientist to actually want to read your report rather than have it placed at the bottom of their to-do list, right? A poetry class will teach you to vary your sentences, give your words a voice and make your scientific findings worth reading. You will learn how to turn the mundane into the interesting. Your work will sound a little less textbook and a little more passionate. You will be able to convey the facts in a manner that is interesting to your intended reader, and your work might even cross over into the more general population. Before you know it, your research and hard work will have an impact on a larger society that you would have failed to reach otherwise.
• You need that grant. Your work depends on it. You know your research is about to advance the scientific world, but you can’t fund it on your own. You must enter the staggering world of grant writing. Your competition? Every other scientist on the planet. Your goal? Obtain the money you have your heart (and research) set on. Your strategy? You took a poetry class. You understand the importance of making your words “stand on the page.” In other words, you know how to state your purpose in a way that will stand for itself. Your research will serve as an excellent complement to a well-stated proposal sure to win over the grant committee.
Give your adviser the “go ahead” to sign you up for that poetry class. Regardless of your major, reach outside your comfort zone and hone a skill completely unrelated to your chosen field. It won’t kill you, and it might even get you the right connection, right grant or right job.
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