This article explores the $2.8 billion start-up company, Slack Technologies, which was founded by a philosophy major. Reflecting upon his unusual path into technology, the founder states: “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.” Due to his liberal arts background, he is not shy about hiring non-technical majors to join his staff of almost 200.

Each new technological innovation typically creates more jobs around the technology than the technology itself creates. With the automobile revolution came the need for marketing, salesmen, driving instructors, road crews, and more! The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2022:

  • some 1 million more Americans will enter the workforce as some type of educator
  • another 1.1 million will earn a living in sales (and not just as department store cashiers)
  • software engineers will represent 3% of overall job growth by adding just under 280,000 workers

Using data available on LinkedIn, there are some emerging trends that support this prediction. Looking at one school (Northwestern), almost 3,500 graduates moved to San Francisco, a place heavily focused on technology. Of these, 14% entered sales and marketing jobs, 6% entered education, 5% took a consulting job, and 5% took a job in business development. Non-tech majors are getting jobs in a tech-centered market!

 

Matthew Breazeale
Lower School Head
Trinity Academy