Humanities Alumnae Finds Work in High Tech
A small fish in a big pond – that’s what being a humanities major at Michigan Tech can feel like.
There don’t seem to be as many job offers for humanities students as there are for engineers at Career Fair. Humanities courses are often considered “filler classes” by other students who ask the infamous question “Tech has a Humanities Department?” all too often.
Yes, Tech has a Humanities Department, and its students are just as crazy smart as the others. For example, meet Kayla Herrera.
Herrera graduated from Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, Culture and Media (CCM). She also earned a minor in journalism and a certificate in writing. Even without a degree in engineering or technology, today she works for one of the most recognizable names in the tech industry.
Herrera says being a humanities major at Tech was interesting because of the feedback she received from people. Often, she heard she wouldn’t be able to do anything with her major. She also notes that venturing into a Career Fair that was centered around engineering was difficult. “I received my share of negative feedback.”
Maria Bergstrom (HU), an advisor in Tech’s Humanities Department, says “Although humanities students sometimes feel like there aren't as many jobs for them at Career Fair, the reality is that every one of those companies likely has someone working in communications, writing, marketing, media or other related jobs. I am really proud that almost 50 percent of humanities majors attended the Fall 2016 Career Fair.”
Majoring in CCM gave Herrera the career flexibility to move from journalism to social media. After graduation, she started as a journalist for All Day Media, a news and media website, and then worked for CinemaBlend, a popular entertainment website. “My switch from journalism to social media happened somewhere while I was working as a Games Editor for CinemaBlend, when I took over their Facebook page,” she says.
Today, Herrera is the head of social media for Google Play. She started out as a journalist but then made a leap into the world of social media.
Last August, she was hired as a social media strategist for Google. In this position, Herrera is in charge of the Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr pages of Google Play. Everything that gets posted on these social media platforms must be approved by Herrera first. “I also uphold partnerships with movie studios, television studios, game developers and book publishers,” she says.
When asked about the success of humanities students, Bergstrom says, “Our students learn how to sell themselves and their skill sets to employers. The ability to write well, communicate with both customers and fellow employees, see the world through a global perspective, understand and make connections between different types of information, these are all really valuable skills. Michigan Tech humanities students often work in positions that help bridge the gap between technical professionals and the general public."
Herrera’s advice to humanities students at Michigan Tech is to brush off any negative feedback you may receive. She also recommends choosing a versatile major and emphasizes the importance of showcasing your skills outside the classroom.
For example, Herrera did freelance work for various publications in order to build her résumé. “Employers expect you to have experience when you graduate. It’s impressive, and it shows you’re a hard worker,” she says.
Herrera notes it was her father, a mechanical engineering alumnus from Michigan Tech, who pushed her to pursue her passion. He told her to never settle in a career and to strive for what she wanted to do in life. “He taught me to not be afraid, to never doubt myself and to keep trying, no matter what.
“When you sit in a job interview and you can talk extensively and passionately about what you are doing or want to do, you’ve found your passion.”
While her career options appear limitless, each day Herrera brings her passion to the social media platforms of Google Play.
Those who want to find out more on Herrera and her career are invited to a special CCM event from 1 to 2 p.m. tomorrow (April 14) in the Peterson Library on the third floor of the Walker Fine Arts and Humanities Center. Herrera will interact via Skype from San Francisco.