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How to break into tech with an arts background

How Amelia's degree in Musicology helped her in data analytics.
Written by
Amelia Lim

Not sure if you have the right experience for the career you want?

That’s okay.

Many people, including me, have a career in tech without a tech background. In fact, many EntryLevel team members have a Bachelor of Arts degree!

For example, I studied Musicology and Asian Studies. I learned skills that I regularly apply to my tech job.

Here is my story of how I broke into tech, and how you can too. Read on for my advice!

My path to choosing an Arts degree

Others’ expectations

My family

Like many parents, my mother wanted me to have a high-paying, secure job so I can live comfortably.

I couldn’t blame her - this is what the Singapore (where I’m from) education system was built on.

My mother also highly valued education, because she only had a primary school education. She worked low-paying jobs, and didn’t want me and my siblings to struggle with financial stress.

Even though I understood this, I was still rebellious. I didn’t want to follow the path that was set for me - I was more passionate about music than science.

However, I was not disciplined enough to practise for hours and hours on the piano. So I knew I didn’t want to perform music...but at the same time, I wasn’t sure what career would be right for me.

Maybe you can relate to the uncertainty of being passionate about something but also not being sure how it fits into your life.

My friends

To add to the pressure, all my friends were graduating and getting jobs right away. However, they told me they felt stuck in jobs they hated.

I didn’t want the same fate as them. I wanted the freedom to explore and learn what I am passionate about.

Myself

So you might find it ironic that I still applied for a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at a university in Germany. I wanted my mother to have peace of mind and tried to live up to her wishes.

Changing my mind

My plan didn’t go so well, though. I didn’t enjoy what I was learning in Business Administration. Things felt repetitive and professors did not encourage critical thinking.

I decided to change majors and applied for a major in Musicology and a minor in Asian Studies.

The class size was small and the professor encouraged us to speak our minds. We were also encouraged to ask questions when we didn’t understand.

One of the music fields that I enjoyed the most was transcultural music studies. It consists of the study of multidisciplinary fields of “socio-cultural, historical, and global contexts,” which helped to complement my Asian Studies minor.

It opened up my mind to how consumer behaviour, governmental social policy, and cultural domain knowledge have affected or shaped the music culture in a particular country.

What I learned

For example, one of the research topics that I came up with was “how (expressive and economic) individualism and filial piety shaped the club culture in China, Beijings’ district, Sanlitun.”

You might ask me, how is it possible that a club culture can be shaped by the notion of individualism and filial piety, as they really do not have any relationship?

Surprisingly, they do, and they play such a pivotal role in shaping the business idea and business operations for the club culture in China. This is evidently shown in how businesses shaped their operations around how their consumers think and behave.

How my experience helped me break into tech: data analyst and marketing example

My academic studies have definitely helped me to think critically and write better.

For example, when I am writing a report about the data I have, I do not just give the numbers. I investigate further to find out what global/local events could have impacted the drop/rise in numbers.

Likewise, when I am doing the marketing strategy, I curate a more personalised individual’s story/ branding as I have done enough research to know what my consumers think and behave.

My advice for you

Do you feel pressured to pick a degree of study for a high-paying job?

Do you feel like you’re not going to enjoy studying that topic?

I suggest following your gut feeling and finding what you are passionate about instead.

Ask people around you or even strangers that have also taken the path you are considering, but ended up in a tech career. You can find people on LinkedIn to reach out to, most of them are happy to give you advice based on their experience.

I don’t regret my decision to take on an arts degree, because it has helped me grow a lot as a person. My arts degree also helped develop the way I think.

The critical thinking and writing skills have helped me put out reports and work in a more effective way!

If you ever need some guidance or advice, feel free to send me an email at amelia@entrylevel.net.

Next steps

  1. Sign up for our free email courses on Data Analytics, Product Management, or Growth Marketing to explore what topics you would like
  2. Follow our social media to get more free advice and motivation
  3. Check out our programs to explore more potential careers

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Learn more about our programs here.

Date originally published:
May 5, 2022
Date last updated:

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