You’ve heard the rhetoric before: Liberal arts majors are broke and can’t find jobs. Their skills are less useful than those with STEM degrees. Even former President Barack Obama took a famous jab at art history majors before apologizing.
But consider this: the potential value of a liberal arts education in the growing tech sector and related industries.
That’s the argument put forward in George Anders’ new book You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education. After penning a Forbes cover story on the demand for liberal arts majors at technology companies, Anders received a torrent of responses from readers. He realized he had found a “big, uncovered story.”
“It just seemed as if there was this tremendous disconnect between public rhetoric that said ‘you’ve got to go the STEM route and there is no route but STEM’ and then all of these interesting new job openings that were coming up for people with liberal arts degrees,” Anders tells USA TODAY College. “It was this hidden strength of the economy that nobody wanted to write about or talk about.”
While researching for the book, Anders talked to graduates who had applied their humanities and social science degrees to careers in digital marketing, user experience and digital design.
Among the success stories: NeKelia Henderson, a Georgia State grad who majored in English and has a job at a digital ad agency, telling stories with numbers. And Josh Sucher, an anthropology major who now works in user experience for companies like Etsy.
Anders says companies are looking for five key qualities in potential employees:
– an eagerness to tackle uncharted areas,
– the ability to solve murky problems,
– well-honed analytic methods,
– keen awareness of group dynamics,
– and an ability to inspire and persuade others.
These traits are often elements of a liberal arts education, regardless of what field you’re pursuing, Anders says.
“Liberal arts in any dose can take you to interesting places,” Anders says. “But going the full distance for a major and particularly doing some of the larger projects that you’ll do later…