Changes in the marketplace could mean your career takes many unexpected turns. You will need to be adaptable and agile, ready to apply your skills to many different industries.
Today’s university graduates may change jobs three times per decade of their working life. A humanities degree can not only help you master specialist skills to take the next step in your career, but also master a second and equally important skillset, known as ‘soft’ skills, to remain agile in most work environments.
Soft skills are transferable and valuable in whichever field you choose to work. They are categorised into five main areas: problem solving, communication skills, ability to work under pressure, project management skills and team ethic.
Soft skills give you the capacity to interact well with others, run a company more efficiently and see projects through from start to finish. You may face problems or challenges along the way, but you will be able to find solutions and produce a high standard of work even when you are under pressure.
Soft skills are particularly relevant to those with a career in the creative industries. At Curtin University, students in a wide range of humanities undergraduate and postgraduate courses receive practical training alongside experiential soft skill learning that fosters creativity and innovative solutions.
The Master of Arts for example, promotes strong communication and project management skills, and a cultural awareness that complements employment in a global market. This gives graduates the freedom they need to be versatile in future workplaces.
To see soft skills in action, read about the career paths of some Curtin alumni below and find out how soft skills and passion have helped them forge successful careers worldwide.
Are you an innovator? Can you solve problems through critical thinking?
At world-class visual effects company Luma Pictures, Curtin graduate Brendan Seals is transforming film sequences with visual effects. He has worked on films for the Marvel Cinematic Universe such as Spider-Man: Far From Home, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Black Panther, applying critical thinking to his craft.
Seal’s most recent work can be seen in Captain Marvel, in which the titular character tries to pursue an alien Skrull on top of a moving train in Los Angeles. Seals and his team combined sequences shot with the actors and stunt doubles in a studio with footage of LA trains and various digital elements to create the adrenaline-inducing scene.
“You can be taught how to use software, but at the end of the day, if you can’t use that software
with a critical and creative mind, you’re just a technician,” says Seals.
Are you a storyteller and a good listener? Can you state your case well and speak in a way that captivates your audience?
Carving a diverse career spanning 24 years, journalism graduate Michael Casey has written for the Wall Street Journal, published five books and established himself as a pre-eminent expert on blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Casey began his journalism career in Perth writing for The West Australian, where he won a statewide award for his coverage of the Myanmar civil war in his debut year. He soon became a prolific and respected writer on the topics finance and economics for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Australian and several other high-profile publications.
“I think the essence of journalism is storytelling, and essentially that’s the art form. You’re trying to capture people’s imagination,” Casey says.
“I really saw the things that I was interested in as being untold stories – stories that I felt needed to be told – and I wanted to be able to tell those stories because they inspired me.”
Ability to work under pressure
Can you meet tight deadlines and keep calm in a crisis?
Award-winning Australian actor and playwright Kate Mulvany draws on lessons she learned as a Curtin student, where she spent time writing, directing and performing at Curtin’s on-campus Hayman Theatre. Mulvany has since written more than 20 plays and taken on a variety of screen acting roles including appearances in Secret City, Fighting Season, and feature films The Great Gatsby and The Turning.
“I used to write scripts in class and then head up to the Hayman Theatre to ask the staff there if I could stage my plays. They would give me an AUD$80 budget; I’d audition actors and direct them,” she explains.
“We would often spend 17-hour days, seven days a week at the theatre getting a show up. We did it for the love and passion of performance, a motivation that continues in me today.”
Project management skills
Can you see a project through from start to finish? Can you negotiate the challenges you may meet along the way?
At the age of 23, Curtin alumna Iris Smit built a multi-million dollar enterprise with an innovative cosmetic product, The Quick Flick winged eyeliner stamp, which creates the perfect ‘cat eye’ look in just minutes.
Within a year of launching The Quick Flick online, Smit’s business was worth AUD$10 million, earning attention from beauty influencers including Huda Kattan and coverage in The West Australian, The Daily Mail Australia, Mamamia.
“I created the entire stamp and product packaging on my own computer, and I designed and built the business website as well,” says Smit.
“People aren’t just buying a product, they’re buying the whole experience of the brand. There was a lot of talk that people could copy The Quick Flick, but there are so many other aspects that make up a business.”
Do you work well in groups? Can you take on a leadership role in a busy team environment?
As director of the live-action movie Power Rangers, Curtin alumnus Dean Israelite was faced with the daunting task of adapting the original 1993–95 series for today’s audience, also ensuring it could stand apart from other comic book movie franchises.
During filming, he had the chance to work with well-established US actors Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader.
“As the director of the film, you are in charge of every creative decision that ends up in the final piece. It is your vision that ends up on screen,” he says.
“The best part of directing movies is the fact that you need to be versed and involved in so many different art forms: photography, acting, music, design, choreography, writing. Creatively, it is a very rich experience.”