“I have decided that this is the year I am getting married,” declared Charlotte York on the HBO series Sex and the City. Desperate to be a wife, Charlotte found solace within a fictitious book called Marriage, Incorporated: How to Apply Successful Business Strategies to Finding a Husband. In it, she learned that she shouldn’t be spending so much time with her “dysfunctional single women” friends, but, instead, she should spend time with her married friends. Bachelor friends of married men were New York’s “best untapped resource,” per Charlotte. In other words, Charlotte sought nontraditional means to find her perfect “candidate” essentially, taking the law into her own hands to find her soul mate.
What does this mean when it comes to finding a job? Competition is fierce. In particular, people who have a more “generic” skill set (i.e., a liberal arts background and little specialized skills) have a difficult time differentiating themselves. They have to get creative, like Charlotte from Sex and the City. A recent blog post from the Wall Street Journal entitled “Have Liberal Arts Degree, Will Code” points out that liberal arts majors are turning “techie” by developing coding skills. One Duke University English and Theater studies grad found herself with a new career that earned $20,000 more per year after acquiring frontend web development skills.
It’s not a foreign concept to marry the liberal arts with technology. Apple cofounder, the late Steve Jobs, once stated in a 1996 NPR interview that “[I] think our major contribution [to computing] was in bringing a liberal arts point of view to the use of computers. If you really look at the ease of use of the Macintosh, the driving motivation behind that was to bring not only ease of use to people … but it was to bring beautiful fonts and typography to people, it was to bring graphics to people… so that they could see beautiful photographs, or pictures, or artwork, et cetera… to help them communicate.”
So what are some technical careers that can be enjoyed by people with liberal arts degrees? “Technical” careers are broad these days. For example, my sister works for Wells Fargo. They are such a huge company that their Human Resources department has its own marketing communications team. She helps build and push out HRrelated content to their company Intranet. Some HTML she learned as a hobbyist back in 1996, when she was an undergrad majoring in Sociology, gave her the foundation to understand tools such as Dreamweaver and MS SharePoint. She has no formal tech training; just a passion to learn and adapt to new technology quickly.
The point here is to take control of your career. There are skills in high demand out there, and you don’t have to have a Computer Science degree from Stanford to acquire them. Channel your inner Charlotte York: declare that this is the year you will find your dream job, and make it happen (just don’t break too many hearts along the way…).
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