When the Worlds of Literature and Data Collide | Analytics Pros

When the Worlds of Literature and Data Collide

Posted by Cathie Johnson on May 9, 2014

Earth_Eastern_HemisphereWhen I taught college English, when I stood in front of my students, there was one skill I really wanted to teach them: critical thinking. I have always been a passionate believer in using our minds to find connections in the world that are unique, exciting, and brand new. We live surrounded by possibilities. And while human nature, and history, proves that all life is cyclical, and we tend to repeat ourselves, I firmly believe there are always new insights to be found and creative ideas to sculpt. Guglielmo Marconi would never have dreamed of trying to wirelessly connect North American with Europe if he hadn’t thought critically about his process and taken risks.

As a teacher I wanted my students to think for themselves. I hoped for them  to develop analytical skills that allowed them to ask questions, to wonder how the world worked, to continually ask: why?

I try to live my life in this same way — in a way that pushes me to question how I fit into my surroundings.

Which is why I’ve found myself asking how I ended up at Analytics Pros.
How is this my world, now?
I never anticipated I would end up working for a company that, as my mother points out, “is so techy!”

But here’s the thing: the more I taught English the more I noticed students didn’t value the skills learned in English 101 as, say, their math, business, or science courses. Liberal Arts degrees (based off my experience as a student and a teacher) aren’t ranked as highly in some student’s minds as perhaps a STEM-focused route. And I understand this. Students view their education through a telescope that is pointed towards possible employment after graduation.

And maybe they are right.
I understand.

After trying to find my way in the world of Higher Education, working part-time as an adjunct professor, not knowing if I’d have a class to teach the following semester, not having health care, not being supported by administrations, not even having my own desk — I understand.

Trying to teach students the value of imagination, risk-taking, creativity, and critical thinking, was difficult. They are facing an increasingly competitive job market. And increasing student loans.

Telling students it’s important to know how to write clearly, is a challenge when some of them think in 140 characters.
Telling a student to take risks and follow their passion, even if their passion is painting, isn’t easy when that student is a single parent also taking care of a dying family member.

Real life doesn’t always provide space for dreaming.
I started to wonder if the things I loved had a place in the working world.
Until I came to Analytics Pros.

People here thrive in an environment of creativity. Everyone here is excited to learn, to engage, to solve, to understand, to analyze why, how, what, when, let’s use that information to help you improve. Analytics Pros is directly connected to the way our world is growing and changing and it is adapting along with it.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my first month at Analytics Pros: skills I gained while obtaining a liberal arts degree are applicable at a Google Analytics company.

I hear a lot of people talking about the need for more education support in science, math, and technology. I hear we need more encouragement for young girls to pursue science and math. I hear that, because the job market is showing growth in STEM areas, we need more education in those areas.

And I completely agree.

But I also think we need to find a marriage between the two worlds. If we support and encourage both the arts and the sciences, we will be more fully developed and empathic people.

To see the need for this marriage you don’t have to look any further than the blog post, A byte or a bite?,  by our very own Caleb Whitmore. In it he discusses his trip to Haiti in 2013 and examines the connection between human stories and the ever-advancing world of technology. To understand why technology exists, we need to understand ourselves and the people around us.

What makes us human, is our curiosity, whether you’re a writer trying to analyze the structure of a Eudora Welty short story or you’re an engineer analyzing the structure of a building.

What has been beautiful about working at Analytics Pros, is realizing we have more in common than we might think. After years of studying literature, art, psychology, and poetry, I never envisioned a path that would bring me to Google Analytics. But now that I’m here, I feel humbled and grateful and excited. Who knew?

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