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Consider Hiring A Liberal Arts Grad Student

Broad thinkers who can research, construct solutions and communicate results are out there.

Consider Hiring A Liberal Arts Grad Student

By Mark Swartz


Steven Jobs famously said, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough…It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

When hiring for new positions, you probably get applications from history grads, music majors, sociology students and related. Bright young people educated broadly. Taught to communicate clearly and persuasively.

Does your company need more soft-skilled people? Consider the benefits of recruiting from liberal arts programs.


Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

There’s so much emphasis lately to bulk up on STEM talent (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Business grads too. All that technical and commerce brain power is indeed vital.

Surely you don’t need a philosophy major. Or literary studies grad. Anthropologists, geology savants and art students…what could they possibly add to your mix?

They must be doing something right. More than half of bachelor’s degrees among current professional leaders with higher education, across 30 countries and all sectors, are liberal arts.


Honed Communication Skills

Those learners write a ton of essays. And give oral presentations. In the process they absorb how to form their thoughts coherently. Then articulate them effectively.

Proper grammar and correct spelling count. So do logical construction and flow of ideas. These skills gleam when dealing with workplace information. If you count on lucidly written documents and oral reports, here’s where they’ll come from.


Powers of Persuasion

Writing essays and answering spoken questions is mainly how liberal arts students get graded. You can bet they’ve learned a thing or two about selling their ideas.

Contemplate the steps involved. First extensive research is required, often unguided. Next comes organizing and prioritizing the data. Drafting (then editing) arguments in support of the thesis drives this process.

It’s what persuasive communication is about. Embracing the needs of different professors – who serve as readers and listeners – is a form of customer-centricity.


Interdisciplinary Thinking

One of the great things about liberal arts and humanities is the cross-pollination of knowledge. Students almost always have to take electives outside their major. This promotes holistic thought.

Comes in handy for problem solving and exploring multiple factors. Your company has all sorts of stakeholders. Shouldn’t you balance your STEM specialists with broadly trained people as well?


Built-In Soft Skills

Employers often gripe that their staff lacks certain traits. The basics desired by employers include relationship-building, conflict resolution, independent thinking and leadership abilities; attributes developed and honed through studies in the social sciences and humanities.


A Sample Case In Point: Music Grads

Very few music majors make it to performance big leagues. Of those who don’t, many seek employment in traditional fields. On the surface they may not seem valuable to you.

Until you look at their training and experience. Music grads have been practicing their craft for many years. They’ve had to develop heightened focus and discipline. A strong work ethic and a drive to improve is internalized.

Most have played in bands or ensembles which require teamwork. Also they’ve performed in recitals, facing down pressure and stage fright. Could you use more of those qualities?


Good Fit

Given the preponderance of leaders with liberal arts backgrounds, new hires with similar credentials make sense. There are natural links between people with similar educational histories.

Another reason why they fit: Humanities and Social Sciences grads complement your STEM and business recruits. The latter two can concentrate more fully on technical matters. The “artsies” communicate and take integrative approaches inside and externally.

If they can comprehend ancient Greek dialects or write a thesis on post-modernism’s origins, they can be taught to contribute in your work environment. As Mr. Jobs said, technologists and creatives combine to make the Apple shine.