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How have you been influenced by individuals in unrelated fields in college?

I am enamored with science and technology, and plan to major in electrical engineering in college. One aspect I have carefully considered in the colleges that I applied to are versatility and strength of programs across several disciplines. I would like to become acquaintances with English and finance majors, to learn their perspectives and allow them to influence me despite having little to do with engineering. I believe in tackling problems from many dimensions. My question is: in what ways has someone in a completely different area of study influenced the work in your area of expertise? How has this unexpected development shaped your way of thinking? #engineering #college #networking

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Andrew’s Answer

Jack, I currently work in IT, but I my original degree was a BA in English. I've always had an interest in computers, but never really considered it a vocation when I was going through undergrad. I did not immediately go into the IT field. While I've since gone back to school for a second bachelors in Computer Science & a masters in Management of Information Systems, I feel the English major has given me a huge leg up in my career. I have done a lot of technical writing and requirements work, and have been able to pull upon the strong writing skills that were developed as part of my English degree. I think my combination of liberal arts & technical background has also put me in a position to 'translate' between business & technical teams. This has been very useful when gathering business requirements and then trying to turn them into something that technical teams can use.


I think it's great you want to expand your horizons & get different perspectives. Regardless of what field you want to go into, having a broad scope of perspectives is key. I would even suggest, if your class load allows, consider a minor that's not directly related to your major. This could give you some skills & knowledge in a seemingly unrelated area that might in the end benefit your primary career. Best of luck to you!

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Samuel’s Answer

As a technical engineer and leader of other technical engineers - I thought it would be difficult to relate to others when pursuing my Masters Degree. What I discovered is that every single person I encountered had something to offer me in terms of education. The most important and useful (albeit unexpected) bits of information I learned were from teaching majors. They showed me how to make technical details and reports accessible to all and how to convey messages effectively. This truly helps me every single day - I am so grateful for that.

I hope this helps.
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Nicole’s Answer

Hi Jack W. Thanks so much for your question. I see that you posted this question a little while ago so I hope my answer to you (or others who may read this response) is still helpful.

What a fantastic question!! Generally speaking, my influences come from people who are interested in trying to solve problems. And that type of engagement runs across many different areas of life and society. Whether the question is how to improve student engagement in the classroom or how to build a fuel efficient home or how to keep your brain sharp during quarantine (all examples of how I have been influenced in my life and work), there is no shortage of individuals, tasks or broader needs that have influenced the work in my area of expertise.

Though my work is primarily in data science and cloud computing, I am influenced by technical and non technical partners who are trying to make sense of problem...what occurred, when did it occur, how long did it last, will the problem come back and more. By raising these types of questions and challenging me to come up with answers that are "good enough to pass the smell test", I become a stronger team member and thus am able to collaborate more effectively for when the next problem set comes along.

My way of thinking...I would say that my way of thinking hasn't changed much in that I have always attempted to collaborate and work well with others. If anything, my sphere of knowledge has grown because of my willingness to open my mind to lots of different problem sets and have taken the time to not only share my perspective but take in perspectives from other knowledgeable partners.

Best of luck to you and continue to keep an open mind on how to get better and do better!

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