Non-Technical Majors in Technical Jobs

Inside Higher Ed recently posted an article about ConAgra Food’s pro-active attempt to hire employees outside of technical majors for technical positions. The company is seeking students with strong critical thinking and leadership skills who can learn the specific technical skills necessary for IT positions. Jim Bretl, who directs the Career Center at Creighton College where ConAgra is heavily recruiting, offered his thoughts about the kind of employees ConAgra is seeking:

In a meeting about the program a few years ago, Bretl remembers Schutté saying, “I don’t just need coders and programmers, I need thinkers.”

“They want people who can analyze information, who can write and present,” Bretl says. “They’ll teach them the details of the system they have, but it doesn’t matter if the student is an English major or a philosophy major.”

A poster over at Engineering Blogs offers an interesting perspective on why English majors might be well suited for some IT jobs:

Even if you majored in a technical field, the odds are very good that 90% of what you learned in college will be obsolete within ten years.  Communication skills, on the other hand, never go out of fashion.

The discussion is highly relevant for technical writing students, who often bring valuable non-technical skills to technical positions.


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