Liberal Art Majors Will Be More Desirable Than Engineering Majors

We can all agree that technology boom is happening. Everyone wants to be in the tech industry, and there is never ending influx of wannabe software engineers because they want to make the big bucks. In fact, I now see more people (if they think they are smart enough) opting to down the path of software engineering than investment banking (or other lucrative finance/accounting). Berkeley’s EECS program increased by 3–4 times its size and its CS program increased by 10+ times since I last graduated in the last decade. Literally, I was told that students had to stand to attend the lecture because there were not enough spaces to house them. Yet, despite all these, I strongly believe that technology alone is not enough, rather we still need to supplement our education with liberal arts or humanities to truly stand out in this world today (I am trying to be more liberal…)

When technology first underwent its transformation, we praised tech talent and found a new feature or anything on a device to be truly outstanding and clearly noticeable. Similarly, when had access to more data such as company salaries, admittance rate to colleges, average SAT scores, and other data that we did not have before, we were ecstatic. Tech “trumps” Arts any day.

Now that every tech device has insanely number of features that we can hardly use everyday as well as insanely number of data that not a single person can go through them in their lifetime, technology alone no longer make anyone or any company stands out. With the influx of tech inspirant eager to make a mark, the supply is increasing, even though on the surface there seems to be a never ending demand for tech talent.

But really, how do we know that tech talent is getting squeezed? Here are few things:

  1. Companies are outsourcing their software engineers to other lower cost countries such as India and China
  2. Applying manufacturing principles aka AGILE in getting lean production from software engineers
  3. Influx of data and trend that computer and software that can easily output data in various table format via SQL

Yet, with all these data output, will engineers help us figure out how to best use these data? Most likely no. The reason being engineers are great at figuring how to do something once a project is fully scoped out. But to really be comfortable with ambiguity and look at things from a broad angle, that is training that liberal arts students can fully grasp. Liberal Arts are the one who can see things from different angles (by training with all these seemingly random requirements) that tie all angles together. They help answer the emotional, the behavior, the psychology, and just how humans interact with the world. With endless technology resources at their fingertips in transforming technical requirements into human-friendly experience, that is when a product developed become fully delighted by the world.

Another example is between Android and iOS. In one of the products I was help launching with the help of engineers, iOS just have a nicer design and intuitive feel even to the developers. One case, although seemingly simple, impacted the way we want to implement certain features. This case was how the keyboard was displayed…Apple decided to overlay the keyboard on top of what was viewing, while Android decided to shift up all contents when keyboard gets pulled from the bottom. What happened was a feature we were developing taking the entire surface for Android and worked perfectly as we intended for the iOS. As most are aware, Apple products were perceived to be simpler to use while Android products have more functionalities. Yet, almost everyone that I know of…once they go Apple, they hardly go elsewhere if price was not a factor.

Just having a logical, technical brain no longer make anyone competitive, though not having one might put you in the prehistoric age (joke). To fully take advantage of the technology revolution, liberal art majors who can grasp the technical concepts in a humanized way will end up become the future commodity. What that means is that for most individuals and companies alike, tech talent alone won’t get you where you want to be.

Rather…be more “Liberal”.