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Am I a sell out if I work in digital?

Can I ask you, why do you think you are a sell out? Who would you be selling out? I thought a lot about this too, and like you I felt like I was giving something big up.

I thought back to why I decided to study humanities, and realised it was because I wanted to understand something bigger than me. I wanted to learn how to understand more than one culture, how people think, how to communicate, how society evolved over time.

I never had to give any of these things up in my career. Maybe, I am not a noble prize winning author, and probably I never will be, but I am using my skills, and focusing my work on something valuable to me.

Working in digital does’t have to mean compromising on your values, or selling out for a high paying job. The concept I find that most humanities students struggle with is, how am I going to discuss the likes of Proust in my everyday job, and use all of this knowledge that I have, and if I don’t where did I go wrong.

University is out of touch with the real world, and that’s not your fault

There is a huge disconnect between academia and employers, and at university we are taught how to solve abstract, research problems that don’t apply to the real world. After graduation, we find ourselves lost and confused as to why our First Class English degree isn’t getting us where we want to be.

It’s important that you stop thinking of yourself as an academic, and to stop focusing on your academic achievements. It’s not because they are not important, but because they can’t directly help you get a job.

You need to leverage the skills that you have and use them to seek out careers that require those skills as basic requirements. Then actually learn the skill-set of the new field you are interested in. Build on your academic skills with new practical skills. That’s the type of winning combination that employers are looking for.

Stop obsessing about the content of your degree

At university when you go to the library you can neatly find any book by its subject matter. The English books are on the first floor, Classics on the second, and History of Art on the third. University organises the world by subjects, but the world isn’t organised by subjects, it’s organised by skills.

You need to let go of the subject. I had to let go of Klimt, Kafka, Dante, Brecht and many more great minds of the past to understand that I am not giving them up, or selling them out, but I am using the skills I developed to understand their work to now understand problems I can solve for my employer.

If anything, they have taught me with their writing and art that what was once a common problem is still very much current. You are not saying goodbye to everything you dedicated the past 3,4 years to, you are embracing the lessons learnt and applying them to something new.

That doesn’t sound like a sell out to me, do you agree?

Written by

I am the creator of Digital for Students. I wanted to create a space to help Humanities Students learn more about digital careers. It's all the information I wish I had when I was throwing my graduation cap.

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Written by Nevena

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