Utility of Quantitative & Technical Skills with a Liberal Arts Education

Class to Careers Conference, American University, January 10, 2016

Beth Soderberg | @bethsoderberg


About Me

  • Independent web developer and digital strategist
  • Public speaker
  • Community Representative, WordPress Training Team
  • Co-Organizer, WordPress DC Meetup
  • Co-Organizer, WordCamp DC
  • Co-Organizer, DCFemTech Inspire
  • Co-Organizer, DCFemTech Hack for Good

My Time At AU

Freshman Year

  • Intended Women's & Gender Studies and Psychology double major
  • Switched to Psychology and Fine Arts (Painting) major in second semester
  • Joined and became President of Active Minds Chapter
  • Summer job: receptionist at dental office

Sophomore Year

  • Switched back to Women's & Gender Studies and Psychology dual degree in second semester
  • Became an AU Ambassadors tour guide
  • Joined Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity
  • Summer job: tour guide at AU

Junior Year

  • Served as Day & Overnight Hosts Chair for AU Ambassadors
  • Served as a teaching and research assistant in the Psychology Department
  • Volunteered with the Barker Foundation
  • Stopped working with Active Minds chapter at year's end
  • Summer job: tour guide at AU

Senior Year

  • Served as Coordinator for AU Ambassadors program
  • Wrote thesis on the impact of health and beauty norms in the wedding industrial complex
  • Graduated with B.A. in Psychology and B.A. in Women's & Gender Studies

After Graduation

  • 2008 - 2010: Executive Assistant & Online News Editor, Feminist Majority Foundation
  • 2010 - 2012: Online Communications Manager, Feminist Majority Foundation
  • 2012 - 2013: Web Developer, Feminist Majority Foundation
  • 2013 - 2015: Front End Developer, APCO Worldwide
  • 2015 - 2016: Senior Web Developer, CHIEF
  • 2016 - present: Independent Developer & Digital Strategist

My Learning Curve

  • Accessibility
  • Ajax
  • API Integration
  • Code Inspectors
  • Command Line Tools
  • CSS
  • CSS Preprocessors
  • Data Migration
  • DNS Management
  • Font Management
  • FTP
  • Git
  • Google Analytics
  • htaccess
  • HTML
  • Illustrator
  • Image optimization
  • JavaScript
  • jQuery
  • Local servers
  • Photoshop
  • PHP
  • SEO
  • Security
  • Server Management
  • Sketch
  • SSH
  • SQL
  • Task Runners
  • Text editors
  • Webmaster Tools
  • WordPress
  • XML Sitemaps

Quantitative Skills

"Quantitative skills (QS) involve the ability to handle data and use numerical evidence systematically. QS can include anything from the ability to design surveys or experiments to assess and use quantitative evidence from surveys, digital media, archives and open data."

Stand Out and Be Counted: Quantitative Skills, by British Academy

collecting and interpreting data from email, social media, and digital advertising campaigns

interpreting polling to allocate resources for political campaigns

surveying hundreds of schools to analyze the state of women's studies programs in the U.S.

collecting and interpreting data on website traffic and user's interactions with websites

managing budgets and forecasting the implications of financial decisions

Technical Skills

"Technical skills are abilities and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. They are practical, and often relate to mechanical, IT, mathematical, or scientific tasks. Some examples include knowledge of programming languages, mechanical equipment, or tools."

Technical Skills List, by Alison Doyle

editing a document so that it is formatted properly

knowing how to use the admin panel of a website to update content

building websites, adding on new features when necessary and fixing errors when they happen

using customer relationship software to manage member and donor records

interfacing with vendors who manage mail servers, internal office networks, and other technical pieces of a business

Quantitative and technical skills are often "hard" skills.

"Soft" skills make people successful, regardless of "hard" skills.

Vital Soft Skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Listening
  • Public speaking
  • Collaborating with other people

WP RoundTable Episode 98: Beth Soderberg, LLC

Absorb all you can from every position, even the unexpected/unrelated skills.

If you have the opportunity to learn a skill, embrace it even if it is hard/scary.

Identify the skills you need and then seek out opportunities to acquire them.

People will frequently tell you what you're good at.

Learning Resources

Online Courses

DC-Specific Things

Thank you!