Silicon Valley has a reputation for being filled with egghead coders who popped out of college as brilliant engineers (or who never finished college in the first place). Films like "The Social Network" have played a big role in popularizing this impression. Google, too, is notorious for putting job candidates through grueling programming tests. Against these geniuses, what hope would a humanities or social science major have of getting a job at one of these companies?
Quite a lot, actually. In fact, liberal arts graduates joined the ranks of tech companies at a faster clip in the past few years than their engineering and computer-science counterparts, according an analysis by LinkedIn of its own users. And of the recent liberal arts grads the company examined, as many as 2 in 5 now work at an Internet or software company. That's a staggering number.
Coding isn't the biggest role for these folks — that is, liberal arts majors who graduated from college between 2010 and 2013 and who lack graduate degrees — but programming is still surprisingly high on the list. According to LinkedIn's study, it's the third most popular job.
Most emerging liberal arts majors go into the tech sector after holding one other job first, but a substantial number go straight into the industry, too. Fourteen percent of liberal arts majors from schools in the top-20 wind up at tech companies as their first jobs, for instance.
At a time when many tech companies have come under fire for a lack of diversity and a monoculture that valorizes the "brogrammer," this new data suggests hard technical skills aren't the only things they are hiring for.
"The philosophy behind liberal arts, which encourages diversity of skills and flexible critical thinking, transfers to the workplace in various forms," LinkedIn wrote in a blog post summarizing its study.
This doesn't change the fact that most college students might benefit from a learning to code, as our economy becomes more technologically oriented. Encouraging more young Americans to pursue science, technology, engineering or mathematics has been a big priority for the White House.
Still, don't automatically count yourself out just because you spent college reading Shakespeare or Hobbes.