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Liberal arts in startups? Time for tech to sound less technical

Written by Guest Author · 2 min read >

Liberal arts in startups? Time for tech to sound less technical

By: Guest Author

Liberal arts in startups? Time for tech to sound less technical

Convention says that startup jobs are for the people who studied computer science, IT, or software engineering. But most people wouldn’t guess that some of the most in demand degrees in startups across the world are in the humanities or liberal arts. There’s a caveat there though – you’ve got to be good at what you do, and you’ve got to be able to work across and understand every other piece and parcel of startup life.

For young people and/or recent graduates with humanities qualifications, the startup climate can serve as an incubator. Most humanities majors don’t quite understand how transferable their knowledge base is to fields like business, finance, design, or project management. That’s because they haven’t taken the time to sit down and learn it. By completing an internship, or after a few years of working in a startup, you can take your humanities degree and grow your skillset into something that’s as applicable and practical as a degree in any technical field.

But don’t just take our word for it, see what humanities people have done for some of tech’s hottest companies. Slack’s cofounder and CEO, Stewart Butterfield has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Canada’s University of Victoria and Cambridge accordingly – and they’re in philosophy and the history of science.

“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true” – George Anders, Forbes.

Butterfield hired prominent blogger Anna Pickard, who holds a theater degree, to design Slackbot – which instantaneously differentiated the Slack service from its competition. You see, while AI makes our lives easier, people don’t want their robots to sound like robots. Just as five years ago we dreaded putting up with a customer service recording (Say “I don’t have an account number…now say it again”), today we don’t want to chat with bots online that sound like, well, bots. In order to make their products and services sound more relatable to your average consumer, tech startups are progressively seeking people who know how to convert tech jargon into clear, concise, and relatable messages. As author George Anders puts it in the above article, “The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.”

So if you’re struggling to finish that epic novel, land a cozy tenure position at an ivy-league, or can’t find the right stage for your one-man show, perhaps you should leap on the wagon and head west to Silicon Valley. Or you could come to Cape Town, South Africa and work with the team of humanities sympathizers at Eventerprise. Either way, as students with degrees in the liberal arts are now joining startups at a faster rate than their tech counterparts, the future isn’t so grim after all for those outside the STEM bubble. While tech startups while always need people that know how to code, they’re progressively needing even more people to understand how to make their product stand out to those mind-boggling consumers.

Learn more about our career opportunities at Eventerprise.