Value of Liberal Arts, Even in Silicon Valley
My three years at Columbia affirmed my conviction that breadth of exposure, and depth of curiosity are the most important contributors to our dynamic economy today. I came to Columbia from Google, and I returned to the world of Silicon Valley venture capital upon graduation. A lot of people today are focused on narrow vocational training, but my time at Columbia taught me the value of engaging with a wide range of topics that pique your interest. From the history of Afghanistan to behavioral finance to the legal aspects of U.S. foreign economic policy, these courses grounded me in a global appreciation that I’ve brought to my work in technology. With “software eating the world,” we need more people thinking about the big problems, the heart attacks rather than the headaches. Oftentimes the founders of great companies that bring context to code are from diverse walks of life, impassioned by what they studied in the Liberal Arts, often mislabeled as a “useless degree.” On the contrary, I learned at Columbia more than ever that we need deep, critical inquiry into how we can apply these new tools to old problems. My book, The Fuzzy and the Techie, looks at this need for both human and technical, ethics and data, context and code, Liberal Arts and STEM, a concept I learned and that was rooted in my three years of graduate study across two Columbia programs.