Industry News

The Future of Startups: A Home for Liberal Arts Majors

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Mark Cuban boldly predicts that tech startups will need to hire more liberal arts majors to succeed. Seriously?

In an interview with Bloomberg's Cory Johnson at the NBA All-Star Technology Summit in New Orleans, Cuban argues why he thinks liberal arts majors will be in high demand in the coming years, “No finance. That's the easiest thing — you just take the data have it spit out whatever you need. I personally think there's going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering, because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data. And so having someone who is more of a freer thinker.”

Although hardware and software engineers continue to top the salary charts, tech startups are learning that employees with liberal arts degrees offer important value. As trained storytellers, liberal arts majors help companies go beyond the numbers and humanize their sales and marketing efforts, driven by engagement and a broad understanding of the world that can inform their respective positions.

Over the last three years, Sage Corps has sent 200 college students to intern with tech startups on 5 continents, in 8 international cities. Our data has increasingly shown that any student can be “entrepreneurial” and make significant contributions to early-stage startups. 50% of our students are women, 47% are minorities, and are studying 80 different majors, many of which are liberal arts-focused, including economics, psychology, history and philosophy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2022 around 2 million more Americans will enter the workforce as educators and sales associates. As the tech industry advances, these opportunities won’t just be in academic institutions or retail stores. Startup ecosystems will continue to grow and evolve, creating demand for coaches, trainers, leaders and business developers. The Liberal Arts are far ahead of other areas of study in serving this demand.

The soft skills developed through a Liberal Arts education are some of the most valuable in the workplace. Soft skills refer to the way employees relate to and interact with other people. The Multi-Generational Job Search Study 2014 by Millennial Branding said employers ranked the following as the most highly desired qualities in candidates: communication skills, a positive attitude and the ability to work in a team, all of which can be labeled as soft skills. Additional soft skills often sought out by employers include critical thinking, problem solving, writing, the ability to communicate directly with customers, and fitting into a company’s culture.

Software development and processes will continue to become more and more automated. Content is immediately available, and plug-and-play widgets are multiplying exponentially, meaning fewer people in the tech space. However, the need for non-tech employees—people needed to make the widgets look good, write supporting documents, and maintain human connections with customers—continues to rise.

How Global Internships Are Changing the Way Graduates Get Jobs

AN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY

It’s no secret that today’s economy has gone global. We are a connected community, and will only become more so in the future. Often times, a single product or project is completed by numerous people on different continents, speaking different languages, and living in different cultures. 

10 years ago, the idea that a small business or startup could do business internationally was less than popular. Today, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t deal, in some way, with someone overseas. 

GETTING AN EDGE ON THE COMPETITION

The more that technology allows us to connect to one another, the more global opportunities emerge. Although it is becoming easier to work across borders and seas, only seven percent of American graduates have global work experience (IEE 2015).  That means that of the nearly two million students that graduate from college each year, only about 120,000 have gone abroad to intern or work. 

According to the Job Preparedness Indicator Survey conducted by the Career Advisory Board at DeVry University, employers expressed that “Global Outlook” was an area where there was a significant gap for graduating seniors. “Global Outlook” is one of the top five desired attributes that employers seek in employees, but many companies report that job applicants are often missing this experience. 

While it’s fairly common knowledge that any type of internship experience is better than no experience, students often limit themselves to local opportunities which may not always provide the high level of professional training or the skills needed to navigate different cultures to compete against other recent graduates. 

Gaining global aptitude requires students to leave their native country, experience foreign environments while gaining professional and cultural skills. Although the price of traveling and living on a new continent may be high, the return on investment can potentially be huge based on the very low number of students enrolling in such programs.
 

WHY GO GLOBAL?

Students with internships are in demand. The National Associaton of Colleges and Employers reports that 73.7 percent of employers would prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience. Students with global internship experience also have a higher chance of getting hired. 42.3 percent of students with an internship experience receive at least one job offer versus 30.7 percent of students without an internship. Lastly, students with global experience tend to make more money. Recent graduates that have interned generally have a higher salary by over 20 percent. (NACE 2015 Job Outlook Survey)
 

Where in the world will you work? This photo features Sage Corps program city Hong Kong.

Where in the world will you work? This photo features Sage Corps program city Hong Kong.

HOW TO FIND OPPORTUNITIES

The task of finding and securing a global internship may seem daunting, but students have a plethora of resources available online. Organizations, such as Sage Corps, help place students in foreign countries with startups making an impact in their communities. Whether studying abroad during the semester or looking for a summer experience, Sage Corps supports top-level students on an on-going basis from admission through their professional experiences after returning home. 

Our connectedness via technology and the internet have afforded today’s students the ability to easily access information about finding international opportunities. Now it’s up to them to take advantage of those opportunities and get ahead of the competition.