Why You Need Passion

Following one’s “passion” in a time of financial crisis and a tough labor market may seem frivolous and even risky. Yet employers and HR directors often tell me that the thing they like about humanities majors is their passion for the subject matter. Even if humanities fields (medieval philosophy, renaissance poetry, 19th-century French art, etc.) have few direct or obvious connections with the world of work, employers know that this underlying passion, usually fuelled by intellectual curiosity, is a rare and highly desirable trait, one that can be harnassed to other  pursuits valued by the marketplace.

Steve Jobs perhaps explains best why passion, or “loving what you do” is so crucial for a long and successful career:

See also this NYT piece on how Jobs channeled his passion for culture and style into product development:

Want a Job? Major in liberal arts…

This is the title of a recent article in the NY Daily News. More and more companies are rediscovering the value of a liberal arts education. If you’re a student in the College of Humanities, make sure you know precisely what skills are valued and learn how to talk about them in a way that will later be appealing to employers.  
(thanks to Kristen Matthews for the link)

Humanities and Innovation

Students in vocational fields (engineering, business, finance, etc.) often think about general education courses, and especially humanities courses, as a check-list of useless hurdles to get past in order to graduate. Tuition-paying parents and career advisors under pressure from higher ups to get students to graduate quickly can often reinforce this view by discouraging students from double majoring or even minoring in “impractical” fields such as literature, philosophy or foreign language.  

Could it be that a purely practical approach to education is all wrong?

If we take Steve Jobs as an example, the answer is clearly “yes”. Jobs is “great” not simply because of his technical education but because he was an innovator. He was able to imagine the technological products and services people would desire before they existed. How was he able to do this?

A new book, The Innovator’s DNA, studies successful CEO’s and cites five common traits of innovative behavior: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and
networking, which they claim must be coupled with a “ceaseless
curiosity and willingness to take risks.” Breakthrough ideas, they argue, do not come from purely disciplinary or linear thinking, they are fueled by diverse experiences and ways of thinking, i.e., the kind of experiences and thinking that come from intellectual exploration and not from blind focus on one simple goal (studying one discipline, quick graduation, making money, acquiring trophies of success, etc.).

This information on innovative behavior could, of course, easily evolve into a new kind of check-list in students’ hands. Jobs himself has a better idea: open your mind… study the liberal arts. Jobs: “The reason that Apple is able to create products like iPad
is because we always try to be at the intersection of technology and
liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both.”

Read more on Jobs and The Innovator’s DNA here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/technology/steve-jobs-and-the-rewards-of-risk-taking.html?hp

Read more on Steve Jobs and the Humanities in an earlier H+ post here: http://humanitiesplus.byu.edu/2010/01/steve-jobs-touts-liberal-arts.html

Slate Magazine Needs Interns for this fall

If you’re looking for an writing/editing/research internship in DC or NYC, explore this opportunity at Slate. They’re looking for students studying culture and/or politics. More here: http://www.slate.com/id/2299133/

Fall 2011 Deadline for Summer 2012 “Critical Language Scholarship Program”

A program of United States Department of
State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language
Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes overseas
in thirteen critical need foreign languages. 

Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)
institutes provide fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and
structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks for U.S.
citizen undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students.

Arabic, Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi,
Turkish, Urdu: Beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

Chinese, Japanese, Russian: Intermediate or advanced level.

Countries may include: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh,
China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South
Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or others where the target languages are spoken.

If this interests you, act soon. More details here: http://www.clscholarship.org/

Choosing a Career by a Salary Chart is Shortsighted

Consider these two facts:

1. 40% of all Yale students graduate in a
humanities/social science discipline. 

2. Among the Stanford Business School’s MBA graduates of
47% majored as an
undergraduate in either the humanities or a social science.

What’s going on here? What secret about the humanities are these Yale and Stanford students in on? Why would they spend so
much money and energy on so-called “useless” disciplines that many people in the media say “lead to nowhere”?

To understand this conundrum and to avoid making an inappropriate career choice based on popular mythology, make sure to understand what you want out of life and to take the proper, evidenced-based steps to get there. You might be surprised to discover that you can follow your passion and make a good living. 

Read more: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/05/26/oh-the-humanities-why-not-to-pick-a-college-major-based-on-a-s/

*Thanks to Ed Cutler for the link.