Communications, teamwork, social skills, and creativity are vital for organizations.
I am terrible at math and science. In high school, I was in Honors English making straight A's on my assignments and tests yet, at the same time, I was in remedial math classes where I struggled to make passing grades. When I went off to college in the autumn of 2005, I looked forward to taking creative writing courses with the hopes of one day working in publishing. As my college career stretched on, I noticed that the students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) departments got more attention for their achievements in what they found in the chemistry labs or the devices built to improve quality of life in poor, rural areas of the world, and rightly so. To work towards finding cures for diseases and to build structures providing clean water to remote villages deserve to be lauded, but students who were majoring in business, history, art, and foreign languages were not as championed.
Because my college required each student to take a course in all areas of study meant that I had to brave the chemistry lab and I will neither confirm nor deny how many accidental fires and bad chemical interactions I had a hand in. On the flip side, my friends who were majoring in STEM all came to me with their English papers and were crestfallen when I would return their work covered in red ink. They may have been blessed with an understanding of complex mathematical equations and scientific wisdom, but when it came to spelling, grammar, or reading comprehension of classic literature, it was starkly different.
When the market crashed in 2008, it seemed like if you had a degree in arts or humanities you were completely out of luck when it came to job prospects. Science and technology are key to innovation, especially during a time when startups and smartphones were taking over. With new innovations changing the tide of e-commerce, those in arts and humanities had to adapt to writing, designing, and marketing for the internet instead of print media.
All of a sudden, those schooled in writing were enlisted to ensure all communications and marketing messages were spelled correctly and conveyed an organization's message, while graphic designers were relied on to whip up digital advertisements that could reach a nationwide audience. The scientists, software engineers, and tech wizards alike changed the digital landscape, but those whose talents were more creative and artistic took the reins. It's not enough to build an innovative computer program, you need a manual, a marketing plan, and a whole host of materials that engage investors and stakeholders in its future. All of these components are created by those whose strengths are in words, critical thinking, and art.
Even with the need for creative minds, it seems that colleges and universities believe STEM is the only route for students to take in order to be successful in today's society. This narrative couldn't be more wrong, the human touch will always be needed in any industry. Robots can't write blog posts, design clever advertising imagery, or build relationships between businesses and consumers.
With 10 years out of college and a career in creating content for the digital world, I now find myself back in school pursuing an MBA. While I slowly tackle the necessary math problems and graphs, I also churn out lengthy required essays. I was able to adapt my English and creative writing degree into a viable career in internet marketing but now I can supplement it further by knowing the best business practices.
STEM is not all there is. Let the creatives be creative. Let those who want to understand and preserve history do so. Let those who care about design make their art. Let the writers write. Articles in Forbes even insist that strong writing skills are career-savers. Put them together with experts in STEM and you have the most valuable combination that an organization could ever possess.