Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

ingly refered to as “letrasados,” a play on words with the term “retrasado” (delayed or “disabled”).

that in tech companies, developers only make up 15-25% of the workforce, as revealed by Michael Litt in Fast Company Magazine. The rest deal with services that need people with humanities skills: “Sales teams need to understand human relation- ships. Marketing teams have to understand what gets people excited and why. Internally, [the] HR teams need to know how to build a community and culture so the company can continue to thrive.” Each of these departments is equally important as the developers who do the coding, and they all require knowledge of humanities skills. Even those with humanities degrees can be valuable players of the technical team--software, user in- teraction (UI), and user experience (UX) designers need to understand usability, or as Litt puts it, “the uniquely human ability to draw upon experience to design an elegant solution that real people will actually find helpful.” Coding skills are important in these positions, but become only the tool with which to carry out the idea. I know many of my STEM friends upon graduating felt just as lost as a person with arts & humanities degrees often feels. They were caught between limited options such as research jobs or more ex- pensive schooling. I realized at this moment I had a leg-up: I searched for jobs in writing, non-profit, administrative, and other places where my crea- tive and adaptable skills would lead me to suc- ceed. In the end, I did end up teaching, but I’m teach- ing because I love it, not because my degree lim- ited my options. After graduating with my English degree, I moved to Spain to serve as an English language assistant in public bilingual schools. In those two years, I learned so much about so much--about my culture, my language, my na- tive-English-speaker-privilege. I learned about Spain, Spanish, and endless cultural references. I learned about how to and how not to nurture the future empathetic, global citizens. And I learned that prejudice for the arts and humanities extends over boundaries. Spanish students at age 16 can choose to continue their education and prepare for university, choosing either sciences or hu- manities. They affectionately refer to these two choices as being “de ciencias” (of sciences) or “de letras” (of letters). Those who choose “letras” jok-

This little joke constantly reminds us of the inher- ent social bias that those who study humanities are in some way less smart, less motivated, or not able to study the sciences even in other cul- tures, and even in cultures that we deem as more “artistic” or “emotional.” Spain’s long history of famous painters and playwrights, its famous ar- chitecture, and its famously expressive and pas- sionate people would make anyone think that perhaps humanities would thrive here. But here too, students feel the pressure of the technical needs of a globalized world and the competitive sentiment of “keeping up” with other richer and accelerated countries, like Germany, England, and the United States. As for you, if you’re pursuing (or even entertain- ing the idea of pursuing) a degree in arts & hu- manities, know that you have infinite professional options in front of you. Take a moment to think about the skills and attributes you have gained (or will gain) by pursuing your degree. Now, con- sider your individual interests, hobbies, and val- ues. Don’t try to think inside the boundaries of the careers you already know about. Imagine a job tailored perfectly to you and your skills. What would you be doing on a day-to-day basis? Are you coming up with creative solutions or are you about making existing designs or programs work? Do you want to work on a team or solo? Are you interacting with customers, clients, or coworkers the most? Jobs have all types of hidden challenges that are perfect for the humanities-minded brain. Teach- ing is not your only career option, as fulfilling as it may be. There’s a plethora of jobs--some of which you might not even know exist--that require the unique skills that humanities students have mas- tered. Not to mention that many of them can be combined with other interests. Love technology? Become a video game story writer. Obsessed with art? Look into museum curating.


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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