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Computing English and communicating through code

The arts and sciences are thought to be opposed. It is a simple case of being either right-brained or left-brained, and people are meant to do one or the other.

Disregarding the fact that the brain is a complex organism and there is no such thing as being right-brained or left-brained, I am a person who is bringing them together.

Being the person that I am, I decided to pursue two bachelor’s degrees: one in computer science and the other in creative writing.

At first, they may see to be completely unrelated, but to say the two are diametrically opposed is just asking for disaster.

There’s a stereotype of STEM majors not knowing how to write, and for good reason: STEM majors don’t know how to write and communicate to non-STEM majors.

This can be a bit of a problem when our brightest minds don’t know how to explain why their discoveries are important.

There’s an obvious solution: teach STEM majors how to write.

In my studies, I’ve noticed things overlapping between the sciences and humanities. Shocking, I know.

The English language is like a flexible machine. There are slots where each part of speech go, and sentence structure is either one of four things: simple, compound, complex, or compound complex.

The parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns and interjections) can be tricky to identify within a sentence. However, by asking myself, “What is this word doing in this sentence?” I can identify which part of speech it is and adjust my sentence to what I need at that moment.

Take for example the sentence, “I enjoy the rain.”

In order to make sure I have the correct punctuation, I have to run a check throughout the entire sentence, beginning with the first word:

Computer graphic.png

And so forth until I have categorized every word.

This allows me to quickly categorize phrases, identify the independent and dependent clauses, place commas where they need to go and move on with my life.

No longer do I have to rely on my gut feeling (which, in my experience, is often wrong when it comes to commas), but now there is reasoning to where I place my commas.

Checking for grammatical errors has never been so easy.

While the applications of logical thinking can easily be seen, sometimes it’s hard to understand why STEM majors should take humanities classes.

For one, our society uses words to communicate.

Words are what bind our ideas to reality. It’s incredibly difficult to capture the nuances of ideas without using at least one word. Knowing which word to use and why it needs to be used comes with practice, and most STEM majors are going to get that practice through their humanities classes.

Secondly, whether or not it is something we should do, we judge the credibility of a person by the way they use their words, especially in writing. In this day and age, first impressions are often going to be made online.

First impressions are critical to getting a foot in the door in any kind of relationship, not just at job interviews. While most of us wish it isn’t true, having grammatical errors in any type of writing is akin to going into a job interview in sweatpants and a grungy t-shirt.

Finally, knowing how people think is critical to any job. Although it sounds like I’m a bit of a megalomaniac, knowing how people tick and how to play on their emotions is always an advantage in this competitive job market.

Most of these skills I learned from my English classes; specifically, my creative writing classes.

Creative writing gave me a critical understanding of how words can be used and how to communicate my ideas in writing.

In other words, I know how to write and do a pretty damn good job.

In even more words, I’m probably going to get a job, not just because I know how to program, but because I know how to write.

I already have two jobs and a third lined up because I know how to put sentences together and punctuate them correctly. To be completely honest, the computer science degree is really only because I felt like a minor couldn’t cover the subject as deeply as I wanted.

Despite the differences between my degrees, having two areas of emphasis means I’m a well-rounded person.

Not only am I learning the technical skills to pay the bills, but I am learning the soft skills that will get me hired.

Even if I don’t get a job in any STEM area, I’m not worried.

There’s going to be lot of job security as an editor if no one knows how to write.

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