From Liberal Arts to Tech Start-up

Last summer, I attended a conference in San Francisco that included leaders in education, media and technology; the purpose – to explore the hyper-connected world of work that is rapidly changing and for which we are preparing students to enter. It was fascinating. We heard from Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Goolge, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn and Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times all discussing how technology is changing the workplace and the impact that will have for students entering the job market.

According to college alumni office records, there are over 140 Whitman graduates working in the top technology-based organizations in Seattle and San Francisco alone. We will see that number continue to grow as current start-ups grow and new start-ups emerge. A liberal arts degree is highly relevant – and valuable – to these organizations. Start-ups move fast. They are rapidly changing, evolving to meet market demands, adjusting how and where they meet their customer and expanding to seek out new consumers. An employee that is adaptable, eager to learn and capable of applying their knowledge to new situations is invaluable in that climate.

How does a Whitman student or graduate find their fit in this ever-changing profession?

This is the focus of the 2015 Sava and Danica Andjelkovic Endowed Lectureship. This year, the SEC is hosting Stephanie Silver ’10 – an Art History major currently working as a Project Manager at Dynamit and Scott Silver ’05 – an English major currently working as a Front End Engineer at Square for a series of events to explore this topic from different viewpoints. Please join us, Monday, March 9th for any or all of the below events to discuss, explore, ask questions and get answers to your questions about how a Whittie can find their fit in start-up tech organizations.

March 9th, Noon-1:00P | Room 207

Positioning Yourself in a Tech Start-up workshop

Open to all students, faculty and staff. Lunch is provided.

RSVP here


March 9th, Noon-1:00P | Room 110

Becoming a Developer with a Humanities Background workshop

Open to all students, faculty and staff. Lunch is provided.

RSVP here


March 9th, 7:00-8:00P | Kimball Auditorium

Whitman in Tech discussion with the Silvers, Professor Albert Schueller and Professor Matt Reynolds
Open to the public. Reception to follow.

RSVP here

Not Just Another Service Saturday

On Saturday, February 28th, 15 students gathered to explore Fort Walla Walla, clean up trash and litter, and learn more about  how the issue of homelessness is manifested in our public parks. This event was focused primarily on the last point, and we spent a significant amount of time discussing the purpose of public parks, and reflecting on the service that we did.

Before we left for the park, we brainstormed some uses and purposes of public parks. In that discussion participants started to think about alternative purposes for public parks, and 20150228_084908_resized-2explored some of the privileges and assumptions that lead to the standard list of public park uses. Our grand total total list of ways that public parks are used included various kinds of recreation, community events, conservation, a boon to property value, memorialization, shelter or privacy, sanitation facilities, dumping, and cooking. In that morning of discussion, we scratched the surface of why some of these uses are valued more than others, and how that value translates into policy. I urge all of us to continue to think critically about these uses, especially the next time you go to your neighborhood park!

Once at the park, we talked to a parks department representative about the relationship between the department and people living unhoused that use the park. 20150228_114041_resized-2Then we went into the undeveloped, wooded area of the park and picked up several dozen trash bags worth of litter. After the morning of service, we convened in a Ft. Walla Walla Museum conference room to discuss our experiences and how they relate to the issue of homelessness. Participants did a roots to fruit activity to map out how the service they did connects to underlying issues causing homelessness.On one end, we brainstormed a list of fruits or direct outcomes that we can point to; these included litter, encampments/shelters, drug and alcohol use, lack/attempt of hygiene, eviction, police warning notices, and people reporting shelters.Different groups chose a particular fruit or a few of them and drew a tree to visualize how they are the results of underlying social issues. Check out all the tree diagrams below! This discussion was concluded by discussing how we’re going to take these experiences with us beyond the event. The level of thought and commitment from the participants was downright inspirational, and I hope others are moved to continue learning more about this complex issue.