Welcome to LSA's official Tumblr, run by the LSA Dean's Young Alumni Council. It is a space for the LSA community - students and alumni - to share personal stories, news, and anything/everything Michigan related. All members of the LSA community are invited to submit content.
By Katie Kent, 2012 BA International Studies & Spanish, minor in Program in the Environment
Technology is hot and software is on fire, while the liberal arts are taking a heavy beating. It’s much easier for recent grads of business, engineering, or computer science to find jobs. Meanwhile, some super-bright liberal arts majors struggle to land even a paid internship.
Out here in San Francisco, the demand for software engineers is astronomical. A handful of programs now take in former anthropology majors and morph them into professional software developers in just 12 weeks. After the program, they’re regularly hired at startups making a median salary of $85,000. (See here and here.) Many of the same skills can be learned for free online at sites like Khan Academy and Skillshare.
Why, then, should you even consider a liberal arts degree from an immersive 4-year college like Michigan?
Hint: Getting hired is not about your G.P.A. Itâs about what you can do and what you know.
In the The New York Times, Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, talks about the five qualities that Google looks for in every candidate, saying, “the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive.”
Interestingly, the attribute they look for the least in a candidate is expertise - so it seems that, at Google, it’s really about your ability to learn and figure things out, more than anything else.
One way to develop these skills is through a liberal arts education, but the author makes a point to note that this isn’t the only way.
Remember when Obama made that off-the-cuff joke about art history majors? Well, he recently apologized in a handwritten letter to a particular art history professor at the University of Texas who took offense.
The professor’s reaction was kind of hilarious. She posted on her facebook: “What I did NOT expect is that THE MAN HIMSELF would write me an apology. So now I’m totally guilty about wasting his time.”
I think my biggest takeaway from this is that people feel really special when you send them snail mail.
Last Thursday, LSA Student Government hosted an alumni panel that featured five of our very own DYAC members - Kate Balzer, Aaron Hodari, John Lin, Julia Stella and Neil Tambe. The event was targeted to LSA underclassmen, addressing common concerns that first and second year students often voice. The alumni panelists provided some assurance to underclassmen worried that their LSA degree won’t translate into marketable skills after graduation.