Technology is a staple in Higher Education: students are expected to have personal computers, lecturers are expected to commit themselves to blending an online component into a classroom environment, and universities are expected to enlist the help of an IT team to maximize functionality of various platforms. The IT team: individuals with extensive knowledge in software development and implementations. Sounds like your IT dream team, right? Not quite. A group of like-minded individuals will get the job done, but may not maximize their own functionality. Instead, it may be beneficial to consider bringing non-traditional team members into your IT cohort. Hiring team members with different skill sets will bring fresh eyes or highly useful abilities to your projects. Below are a few examples of such diverse skill sets:
A Different Way of Seeing
The visual artist brings an entirely new skill set to your IT project.
The visual artist may seem out of place in any position that is not marked web designer, but think of how higher education has trained these students; they are trained to, quite literally, see the world differently. Visual artists spend their college careers learning about color. The color wheel may seem like just an illustrative tool, but partner the color wheel with the theoretical approach of color and the visual artist brings an entirely new skill set to your IT project. Color theory seeks to explain why humanity responds to certain colors the way they do. Having a visual artist on your team might save your project from having the user be displayed a green background color, a color that does not increase productivity. Furthermore, the visual artist has the knowhow to discuss typography, being able to choose and defend fonts that will make your project look clean and organized rather than cluttered paragraphs on paragraphs.
People Interacting With People
There is no one better to deal with an unsure or upset client than someone that can empathize with them.
The academic side of Higher Education always has to defend its investment in Humanities students, but you will not have to by having one on your team. Across the board, all Humanities students are trained in similar skill sets. If your project requires a written component, the Humanities major, who has spent a good deal of time honing their written communication skills, will be able to effectively adapt idea to written text. If your IT project is being sponsored by a client that may be difficult to deal with at times, it is best to let your Humanities major sit and talk to them and try to reach an agreeable solution; after all, the Humanities are the study of people and the world through a specific lens, and science has already shown that Humanities students often times have the highest emotional intelligence scores—there is no one better to deal with an unsure or upset client than someone that can empathize with them.
Following the Data
Lastly, consider how valuable a social science major would be to your IT team. Social science majors have extensive experience researching and crunching data. A social scientist could conduct research to discover how best to prioritize your IT team’s main objectives based on the changes consumers feel are most necessary. On the flip side of the research coin, social science majors spend a lot of time reading the research of other social scientists. This makes them the ideal candidate if your team needs to be briefed on what the current findings or literature of the field says. It is also common knowledge that disputes do happen. It is natural for not everyone to agree all the time about the best way to go about an objective. The social scientist would be a great person to have around; with their discipline focused so heavily on interpersonal skills and teamwork, they have picked up some very useful conflict mediation skills that could save any team from going south.
Nontraditional backgrounds can add a plethora of good facets to your IT team, and they come with a variety of skill sets.
This has just been a brief overview of what some team workers with nontraditional backgrounds can bring to your IT team. While it may be concerning to hire a team member with no technical experience, remember that technical experience can be taught on the job and all of these team members have proven through their specialized areas that they have the desire and capacity to learn that can easily transcend into other areas. Nontraditional backgrounds can add a plethora of good facets to your IT team, and they come with a variety of skill sets. The best thing to do is consider some of these questions and how they relate to the current project at hand: what does your team need to do for this project? In what areas does your current team need to be made stronger to better serve the project? The IT world has long been considered a one-sided coin of science and math, it is time to flip the coin and allow every appropriate skill-set to be utilized as we move forward as a collective in this digital age.
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