Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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In Defense of Liberal Arts

February 5, 2009

Yesterday I read a post from a fellow Brazen blogger complaining that she felt her liberal arts degree was useless. What did it prepare her for? She felt she had nothing to offer companies compared to her college-of-business classmates.

I beg to differ. Choosing liberal arts was the best decision I ever made. Yes, lots of engineers and business students look down on me and think they’re more prepared for life than this little political science student.

But, at the risk of offending all of them, I can confidently say: I’d never, ever trade my liberal arts education for business or engineering or anything supposedly more career-oriented or more lucrative. And here’s why.

1. Liberal arts teaches you to think critically. This is a skill that many of my engineering friends scoff at as a “soft” skill. It’s underrated, but a skill that’s highly valued in business. Our courses were filled with heavy analysis and forced in-class discussions. We pulled all-nighters writing analytical and persuasive papers while my business friends  were at the bar, thanking their lucky stars all they had was multiple choice tests.

But at the end of the day, we learned how to analyze and examine problems from every angle. We learned how to think outside the box, try new things, take risks, defend our opinions logically, and creatively problem-solve.

Math problem sets won’t teach you that.

2. Liberal arts teaches you to be a better communicator. Writing, reading, analyzing, discussing, debating, public speaking — all are components of any good liberal arts education. And really, few things are more important to a successful career than being able to communicate with people and write well – skills which recruiters are looking for more and more.

Liberal arts majors can also carry on a conversation about almost anything thanks to our extremely well-rounded curriculum. As one commenter on the original post said….  “I also find people with liberal arts majors more fun and interesting to be around – they tend to be curious and open-minded.” We like learning about the world – and discussing it with people. This is extremely useful when you realize how important social skills are to any successful career.

Engineers…not always known for their social skills.

3. Liberal arts majors are passionate about what they do. And thus,  they make better workers. We chose our majors for no other reason than because we love learning about that subject — I knew I loved politics since I was a toddler (I wish I was exaggerating. I’m not). And we’ll try our hardest to seek out jobs that we are just as passionate about, too.

I know far, far too many business students who aren’t passionate about anything they’re learning at all — many have admitted to me that they just picked business because it seemed like an easy ticket to a cushy, high-paying job.

Would you rather have an employee who just wants a nice salary, or an employee who’s genuinely passionate about doing a good job, and wants to make a difference?

Once upon a time I used worry that my liberal arts degree put me at a disadvantage compared to professional-track majors like accounting, business, and engineering. I may have more uncertainty than a nuclear engineering student about what kind of job to pursue with my degree – but that’s not for lack of options. It’s because liberal arts degrees give you, if anything, more options.  Instead of limiting yourself to one career track, you can do almost anything. The skills and knowledge that a liberal arts degree arm you with will take you far – as long as you take advantage of them, and know how to market your degree.

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Hello from Southeast Asia!

January 7, 2009

I’ve spent the last week backpacking through Cambodia and Vietnam, and am heading to Thailand tomorrow. It is phenomenal. You should visit Southeast Asia at some point if you haven’t already!

I’ll be back with more substantial posts when I’m back in the country again, after Jan. 17!

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We’re in the Washington Post.

December 4, 2008

I’m speechless. My entire video interview is featured in the WaPo.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/12/04/dee_dee_meyers_offers_advice_f.html

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FishbowlDC

December 4, 2008

My interview made it into FishbowlDC! Check it out.

And the original interview is live at Citizenjanepolitics.com!

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Guest Post!

December 1, 2008

I have a guest post up today at Monica’s blog, Life in the Middle Lane. Check it out and leave a comment. Don’t be a lurker! 🙂

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Still on the run

July 23, 2008

Mehboba Ahdyar, the only woman on Afghanistan’s 4-member 2008 Olympic team, is still missing after disappearing nearly two weeks ago. Now reports are surfacing that she may be claiming political asylum in Europe, that she may be dropping out of the Olympics, that her parents may be imprisoned in Afghanistan if they can’t convince her to return. Not surprisingly, this story hasn’t really gotten as much press attention as it deserves. Because, you know, the American media has important things to cover — like Heidi and Spencer, or Sean Preston holding a pack of cigarettes.

The Olympics are supposed to be a symbol of pride and unity, hope and change. Countries send their best talent to represent them. A good team can give even a country rife with civil war and poverty something to cheer about side by side. Just look at the Iraqi soccer team of 2004! The Olympics give the world a chance to unite over something, if only for a few weeks every four (or two) years, all politics, gas prices, and wars aside. It’s considered a victory to see countries like Afghanistan and Iraq participating, but at what cost? Their female athletes still struggle against all odds to compete. The two Afghan women who competed in 2004 faced constant threats from extremists. One even left Afghanistan after the Olympics with her family out of fear for their lives.

“This is important,” Robina Muqimyar, track sprinter and one of the two Afghani women who were the first to EVER compete in the Olympics, said back in 2004. “The women of Afghanistan will know they can do anything, if there is hope in the heart.”

Did anyone even hear her?

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Future Perfect

July 22, 2008

A blog I’ve become obsessed with lately is Jan Chipchase’s Future Perfect. Jan Chipchase has to live what is possibly one of the most interesting, exciting lives on the planet. I first read about him in the New York Times a few months ago:

If you need to reach Jan Chipchase, the best, and sometimes only, way to get him is on his cellphone. The first time I spoke to him last fall, he was at home in his apartment in Tokyo. The next time, he was in Accra, the capital of Ghana, in West Africa. Several weeks after that, he was in Uzbekistan, by way of Tajikistan and China, and in short order he and his phone visited Helsinki, London and Los Angeles. If you decide not to call Jan Chipchase but rather to send e-mail, the odds are fairly good that you’ll get an “out of office” reply redirecting you back to his cellphone, with a notation about his current time zone — “GMT +9” or “GMT -8” — so that when you do call, you may do so at a courteous hour.

Keep in mind, though, that Jan Chipchase will probably be too busy with his job to talk much anyway. He could be bowling in Tupelo, Miss., or he could be rummaging through a woman’s purse in Shanghai. He might be busy examining the advertisements for prostitutes stuck up in a Sao Paulo phone booth, or maybe getting his ear hairs razored off at a barber shop in Vietnam. It really depends on the moment.

Chipchase is 38, a rangy native of Britain whose broad forehead and high-slung brows combine to give him the air of someone who is quick to be amazed, which in his line of work is something of an asset.

–“Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?”, NYT, April 2008

(Can you say dream job?)

His blog is amazing. Chipchase travels the world in a quest to view life from every perspective in every corner of the world and research how his company (nokia) can help make life easier for every person he meets. No person is insignificant to Chipchase in his line of work; he wants every single story to be heard. On his blog, Chipchase posts pictures and thoughts from his travels. Some seem very simple — children’s haircuts in China, unique cuisines in Tajikistan — but if you stop to think for a second it’s amazing. This guy has been everywhere, all over the world, studying how cellphone technology has changed the world, but he can still appreciate how amazing even the simplest thing can be. Pretty cool.

“Future Perfect is about the collision of people, society and technology…Future perfect is a pause for reflection in our planet’s seemingly headlong rush to churn out more, faster, smaller and cheaper.

Somewhere along the way we get to shape what the future looks like.”

http://www.janchipchase.com