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What can you do with a Classics degree? A conversation with Inge van Baren, Senior Learning Consultant Global Risk & Compliance for ING Bank


A professional headshot of Inge van Baren
Inge van Baren, Senior Learning Consultant Global Risk & Compliance

"the skills and mindset that I gained from studying Classics still help me every day. For example, text comprehension. I’m not easily thrown off by long texts full of incomprehensible jargon (which is the case for basically any risk or compliance policy). I can get to the core of the text quickly and translate it to something people actually understand."




What does a Classics degree entail? If I do not want to be a teacher, what jobs can I have after choosing a Classics degree?


Younger Classicists may not have met anyone who has had a successful career after a Classics BA, or perhaps they have, but they would never have guessed! This series is here to show them the different paths that life may take and inspire them to thread their own.

This week, I spoke with Inge van Baren, who

 

NB: I ask relevant questions about the degree and also its routes into employment. And I will be honest, transcribing the answers even when they are not necessarily what I want to hear, up to the very last question — would you do it again?



1.       What aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most?


Apart from of course the beautiful languages, fascinating literature, and intriguing history of the classical world, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the Classics department. People studying classics are a special breed. All my fellow students were extremely motivated, highly intelligent, and really passionate about languages, history and philosophy. This created a truly inspiring atmosphere that stimulated me to excel. And the yearly Classics Gala was epic 😉.


2.       Looking back, was your degree what you expected?


I had to work harder than I expected, but it was also a lot more interesting than I had envisioned.


3.       If you could go back and speak to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give her about choosing a degree?


Pick a degree that you’re passionate about and don’t worry too much about your future career. If you want to become a doctor, then, of course, it is wise to study Medicine, but most jobs do not require a specific degree. When I applied for a job at an Executive Search company, my Classics degree was actually the main reason I got hired, even though the job didn’t have to do anything with Classics. My manager felt my degree showed I was a quick learner and a go-getter, so I probably could learn any job in no time.


4.       What was your first job after finishing your degree?


Classics Teacher at a secondary school.


5.       And what other jobs have you had in your life, related or not to your degree?


I have also worked as a headhunter and corporate training coordinator. In my current role, I develop Risk and Compliance training for a large international bank.


6.       In your professional career, what learnings from your Classics degree have been most useful?


In my current job, I obviously don’t need any knowledge of Greek or Latin, but the skills and mindset that I gained from studying Classics still help me every day. For example, text comprehension. I’m not easily thrown off by long texts full of incomprehensible jargon (which is the case for basically any risk or compliance policy). I can get to the core of the text quickly and translate it to something people actually understand.

7.       Do you consider that anything you learnt was useless?


I’m not quite sure if studying the use of particles in Pseudo-Longinus or analysing the place of the caesura in long stretches of dactylic hexameters really helped me move forward in life. But at least it was a good lesson in perseverance.


8.       How does classics inform your work as learning consultant for a global bank?


I have already mentioned how my text comprehension skills serve me well in my current work. But studying classics also taught me how to do proper research, how to write comprehensible texts and how to ask questions. As a student I was stimulated to question everything and everyone, even my professors. In my job I develop training courses on topics in which I am not an expert. But my background in Classics helps me to quickly sort out complicated topics, ask critical questions, and challenge the experts. And once I have gathered all the information, I can write it down in a way that other people can understand it.


9.       Would you do it again?


Yes, definitely.

 


 

 

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