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How Your Social Science Degree Can Be Useful in the Tech Field

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Many people assume that social science graduates work either as social workers, at nonprofits, or in academia. However, did you know that social science majors are also suited to work in the tech industry? Despite not having a presumed “relevant” degree, social science majors possess valuable skills that are applicable in the tech field.

Tech companies are on the lookout for people who can connect to customers in a genuine way

In the 90s, computers started to improve rapidly. There was increasing concern for digital products to adapt as user-friendly. Not only did they have to serve as purposeful and functioning, there was also a focus on the overall experience when one used the product. Don Norman, an engineer at Apple, was the first to call it “User Experience Design”. Many social science majors are exposed to social psychology, which is essential in designing products that prioritizes users. User Experience is also multi-disciplinary as it blends research, communication, programming and psychology一there is always something for someone.

Social science majors are valued for their research experience.

Whether you have experience in qualitative/quantitative research, conducting research in tech is similar to what social science researchers do. In the beginning of product development, UX researchers have to go through the “research phase” of the project: interview existing users, finding out their challenges and exploring possible digital solutions. Much of the research methodologies are exactly the same as the ones you find in sociology and anthropology一particularly interviews, ethnography and participant observation. In this way, they lead designers and engineers to improve or create a product. There is also a discipline called design research一where great research breeds great design. Design research is closely related to UX research. You can read more about it here.

Technology is tangled

Tech thrives with diversity. The IT world doesn’t only consist of computer science majors. There is a demand for talent in nontechnical fields including sales, marketing and social media. People of all backgrounds offer something different to the table. UMass Amherst’s very own sociology graduate, Adam Rodell, is currently a sales leader at Microsoft. His role consists of executive management/leadership and community outreach. During his time at UMass he had dabbled in not only sociology but history and chemistry. Adam’s unique college experience has set him apart in the tech world!

Majoring in the social sciences teaches you how to communicate well, a key skill in the working world.

Stewart Butterfield is the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria. He also happens to be the co-founder of Flickr and Slack! Studying philosophy taught him to articulate his thoughts well which is helpful for meetings. As tech constantly evolves, so do the direction of tech companies. The nontechnical side of business (uniting everyone to move in a certain direction) is more labor-intensive than ever. Having strong people skills is more essential than ever.

I hope this article encourages all you social science majors and inspires you to reflect on your future career in tech. It’s a good time to be a social science graduate.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Images: 1, 2, 3

Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst