OMG! Business Loves Humanities? Seriously…What?

Business Insider’s Max Nisen wrote a piece on the usefulness of a humanities degree and encourages people to ignore haters. I think that means Business is in love. Ok, Humanities, just play it cool. Just brea – OMG Business is looking our way!

The Love Letter

What does business like so much about us? Is it how mature we are after all of these centuries of study or the way we say “always already”? What’s that Max Nisen? You say it’s mostly about analyzing, writing, and working well with people? You say we are valuable because we do what computers cannot?

Well, it seems like business only cares about what the humanities can do for business. Such a one sided relationship. What is in it for us? The unemployment rate will be fairly low (if you have a graduate degree),  career mobility is easy with our transferable skills, and “everybody will be secretly jealous of how well-read you are.”

Somehow I don’t think playing to our potential elitist pride with that last one will win us over, but financial and emotional stability are important in any relationship. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try this relationship out for a bit.

Nisen does end this love letter with one little caveat: “If immediate employability and student loans are the biggest issue, liberal arts aren’t necessarily the best choice. When starting salary is the biggest concern, there are better options.” In other words liberal arts and the humanities may be a financial risk for those who are not doing well enough financially. Did Business Insider just neg the humanities? If you are into that sort of stuff, then maybe it can be a beautiful relationship.

In All Seriousness

The take away is that the rumors about the humanities have been unnecessarily alarmist and exaggerated.  Though a liberal arts degree of some sort may not have a clear career track outside of teaching, in practice the education from such studies has proven to be useful in the job market.

Not only does a liberal arts degree engender necessary and valuable skills, but Nisen also argues that you will “stand out from the crowd in the coming STEM glut” because with “large and highly publicized demand for STEM graduates, many perfectly rational college students are going to go in that direction. Over time, there may be a glut, just like we’ve seen over the past few years in law.” Standing out in a manner that seems beneficial to the potential employer may just lead to an interview for that job you really want.

Perhaps the most exciting piece of of this attempt to change the conversation about humanities degrees is the fact that people in the humanities engage in independent research and therefore learn on their own. “As for the skills part, people who are sufficiently motivated can learn to code on their own or from myriad online tools. And there’s nothing that says that a humanities major means you never take a science class. And a lot has to do with the ability to learn and adapt on the job.”

The ability to learn on your own and adapt to changes in the job market is crucial because, as some believe, the jobs that we need to train students for are not even created yet. You need to be able to learn and your feet and go with the flow to do well in the unknowable future.

So if you are considering a major in the humanities, don’t get discouraged by the rumors. Learn the facts, take inventory of your interests or what you enjoy, and determine what your financial situation is. Weigh the pros and cons based on evidence, not hear-say. It could lead to a beautiful relationship.

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