What skills are most important to succeed in today’s fast paced, technologically advanced world? More specifically, what characteristics might be the greatest indicators of success in Silicon Valley? Conventional wisdom would stress mastery in STEM: science, technology, engineering and math.
However a degree in these fields is no guarantee of success according to recent in-depth studies at a local company you might have heard of: Google. In fact, an advanced degree in STEM was at the bottom of the list of those qualities Google rated most highly.
In contrast to the hard skills of STEM, according to an article in the Washington Post, “The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”
So for every parent who is pushing his or her student to excel in STEM lest their child is forever unemployable, I would advise easing up. For every high school or college student who is single-mindedly focused on hard sciences as the only pathway to success, I would urge opening your mind!
The fields of science, technology, engineering and math are beautiful to study if that’s what you genuinely love. But we should not preclude the value of studying Humanities and Social Science both for their intrinsic worth as well as the practical application they can have following graduation.