The Corner

On Hiring Liberal-Arts Majors

David Kalt writes in the Wall Street Journal that he has changed his mind: He used to think tech companies should hire employees with computer-science and engineering degrees, but his experience has shown him that many of his best employees had liberal-arts degrees instead. His explanation for their success:

It’s very simple. A well-­rounded liberal arts degree establishes a foundation of critical thinking. Critical thinkers can accomplish anything. Critical thinkers can master French, Ruby on Rails, Python or whatever future language comes their way.

An alternative explanation: The employees he hired were critical thinkers, and oriented toward critical thinking, before they chose their majors; it’s part of the reason they chose their majors and were successful in them. Getting the degree, that is, was an effect of these valuable traits more than a cause of them. His conclusion that employers should consider hiring people with liberal-arts degrees may be right. But he could still be wrong about why he used to be wrong.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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