Illustration by Marissa Espiritu/22 West Magazine

STEM & the Arts: The Benefits of Working Together

By Melanie Perez, Contributor

Illustration by Marissa Espiritu

After high school graduation, the university hunt follows. You yearn for the ideal major, one that guarantees career success.  

“In my youth,” remembers junior mechanical engineering major Emilio Bautista, “there was a Russian grandma in my high school that would tell me I was doing well in my science studies.”

Given the impression of a guaranteed career in STEM, Bautista mentioned the connection between STEM careers and financial stability. “[The Russian woman] hoped that I would do science because the arts would not have security,” said Bautista, adding that it’s difficult to get a job in the arts because you have to be incredibly talented to receive even some appreciation.

At universities, there is ongoing conversation about selective majors which promise employment after graduation.

The goal of most students applying to STEM majors is to be guaranteed a job after graduation. According to Economic Modeling, in 2016, students enrolling in STEM degrees increased by 39 percent in California, while humanities degrees dropped 3 percent.

Junior art history and psychology major Araceli Munoz disagrees with the assumption that liberal arts majors are more likely to be unemployed after they graduate.

“I’ve heard that liberal arts majors learn more skills that jobs want,” said Munoz. “[STEM majors] can only go into STEM-related jobs, while a liberal arts major can get any job. I’ve learned more from history and psych than I ever did in a math and science [class].”

Parents, schools, colleges and students are reacting to the market’s emphasis on STEM jobs. Legislators have also taken the initiative to defund college programs that do not move towards a job in the arts. STEM programs are heavily pushed in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, while art programs are removed from schools for being perceived as just extracurriculars and not potential careers.

Majors such as sociology, psychology, history and public relations keep getting talked down.

According to Odyssey, these majors are valuable for their creativity and the information they bring about interpersonal communications, making them “vital to the success of society.”

Consider this: majors should not be pitted against each other. It is better to appreciate different disciplines that are taught and recognize the unique skills they can bring to the world. iPhones are an example of a remarkable innovation to the world built through creativity for human accessibility. It is the perfect combination of technology and human interaction.

“People should not shame others about what they are doing in their lives,” said Gesmundo. “I am a big believer of doing what makes you happy. I feel like there is a lot of available jobs for the arts.”