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3 Reasons Why Silicon Valley Needs Leaders with Graduate Degrees

Posted by Shelly Quance on 6/22/17 6:39 AM

  June 22, 2017    

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Technology and Silicon Valley are practically synonymous. People from all over the world come to this corner of California with dreams of disrupting the market with the latest technological advancement. It’s famous for an ultra-competitive environment saturated with the best and the brightest minds in technology and entrepreneurship.

So, how do you break in and set yourself apart from the competition in Silicon Valley? You’ll need a graduate degree first, but in order to lead you must have an entrepreneurial spirit to go along with the letters after your name.

Read on for three reasons why Silicon Valley needs leaders with graduate degrees — and what leaders with graduate degrees need to do to succeed in this iconic place.

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Silicon Valley needs leaders who evolve.

Technology goes much deeper than coding, numbers, and gadgets. It’s about advancing the world through the latest innovations. If you want to come up with the next great idea or lead a start-up team, you need to prove that you can evolve through your education. That means using your graduate degree to show a spirit of adaptation and intellectual curiosity— and here are some advanced degrees in technology that may help keep your skills in innovation up-to-date.

An MBA or Master’s in Engineering are great degrees to give your resume a boost, but you must apply that education to the ever-changing world of technology. Through your graduate degree (and the research that goes with it), you can prove that you have an entrepreneurial spirit. An evolutionary approach to education will give you a unique edge — even in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley needs leaders who think creatively.

Did you know Steve Jobs took courses in calligraphy? And Peter Thiel of PayPal fame was a philosophy major in college? It’s a well-known secret that some of the most successful leaders in technology have degrees outside of the STEM world.

In the Washington Post, Vivek Wadwha cites a 2008 Harvard and Duke study that proves this point: Of the 652 U.S.-born CEOs and heads of product engineering , only 47 percent held higher degrees — and only 37 percent held degrees in engineering or computer technology. The rest span the academic spectrum: business, accounting, finance, healthcare, arts and the humanities. “Yes, gaining a degree made a big difference in the sales and employment of the company that a founder started. But the field that the degree was in was not a significant factor,” Wadwha writes.

So, don’t let your interest in the humanities or philosophy keep you from pursuing a career in Silicon Valley. Your creative thinking and degree may be just what they’re looking for!

Silicon Valley needs leaders who break convention.

Those who survive and succeed in Silicon Valley are not the ones who keep quiet and do their work. Leaders in this ultra-competitive place need to have the courage to break convention. That’s the only way to disrupt the market. A graduate degree will give you the chance to learn from experts, create an expertise of your own, and take chances with new ideas.

Peter Thiel said, “The question of thinking for yourself and breaking convention is very important in Silicon Valley and other places.”  So, if you want to be a Silicon Valley leader, pursue a graduate degree that equips you with the education and skills you need to create, focus, and grow yourself and those around you.

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Topics: Graduate School Resources, Industry Research & Advice

Posted by Shelly Quance

Shelly Quance has spent almost 20 years working in higher education marketing communications. She currently serves as Director for West Virginia University’s Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment where she works collaboratively with College leadership to develop, implement, and evaluate creative and effective comprehensive communication and marketing plans to increase graduate student enrollment.


About the Blog

Deciding what graduate school to attend can be daunting at times, and navigating the admissions process can be that much more difficult. We hope to make the journey from considering graduate school to enrolling in a graduate program easier by publishing content that will be helpful to you as you discern if, when, and where, to pursue your next degree.

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