March 23, 2016 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: counseling, liberal arts, spotlight
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Liberal arts students can thrive in tech careers because of the strength of a liberal arts education and the profile of students who are drawn to it, says Alice Harra, associate dean of students and director of Reed College’s Center for Life Beyond Reed.
“[Liberal arts graduates] are curious and want to solve problems using a multi-disciplinary approach,” she explains. “In addition, the value of strong writers, good listeners, and clear presenters cannot be underestimated. These skills are in short supply today. A surprising number of tech firms—from Apple to Air B&B to Switchboard to Urban Airship to Puppet Labs—have liberal arts founders or early employees.”
Harra says tech companies are putting engineers on teams with social scientists and humanists—philosophers, designers, artists, sociologists, anthropologists, performers, and more—as a competitive advantage.
“The liberal arts students I know are very nimble,” she notes. “Prepared by an intellectually rigorous education and trained to think across disciplines, they can move between tech and non-tech roles at companies, allowing quicker talent movement and growth. When a liberal arts student has pursued a balanced academic life, there are few entry-level employees more powerful and valuable in the tech sector.”
How can college career services offices make the connection between liberal arts students and tech companies? Harra has several suggestions:
Harra will present “Why Liberal Arts Majors Thrive in Tech Companies” during NACE16.
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
Median number of students to professional staff member
Median square footage of the career center
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent frequently discussing career readiness competencies with faculty
2018-19 Career Services Benchmark Survey