Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), otherwise known as the blagger’s degree. Or is it?
In the UK, students have traditionally majored in one subject. When I finished PPE, I felt like I’d spent three years not really mastering anything – except maybe the ability to read quite quickly and splurge out essays at regular intervals.
How could a graduate in PPE know each of their individual subjects as well as a single honours graduate in politics or economics, for example?
Upon graduating, I thought maybe I had been the victim of a ruse. I felt like I didn’t really know anything.
I may have been right. But that didn’t matter. One thing that’s amazing about PPE is the fact it’s multidisciplinary. And many are increasingly arguing that we need more multidisciplinary thinking in the workforce.
As a result, PPE is now offered at many more UK universities than it was ten years ago and other universities have started to offer combined arts and sciences degrees for students who don’t want to specialize when they’re still teenagers.
Studying politics, philosophy and economics together makes you start to see each subject’s limitations. Understanding ethics helps your study of politics, studying politics and philosophy can put your study of economics into perspective. In my view, the more you benefit from studying across different disciplines, the more critical and curious you become.
It is actually a perfect grounding for developing what some commentators refer to as ‘sensemaking’.
Sensemaking is all about the ability to connect the dots to create new ideas and it’s being heralded as one of the most in-demand future skills by author and consultant Christian Madsbjerg.
Why? Because there are more data and information than ever before. And in the face of ever-quickening change, there is more potential for disruption. As a PPEist, your ability to connect the dots could put you at an advantage in the workplace of the future.
Steve Jobs once said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”.
Visionaries and leaders need to be nimble enough to see things before their competitors. And a multidisciplinary study of the humanities might be just what they need.
So how does this translate into roles after university?
According to Oxford University’s website, a PPE degree can lead to:
“..banking and finance, politics, journalism and broadcasting, law, industry, teaching, social work, accountancy, business management, management consultancy, advertising and the many branches of the public services, including the Civil and Diplomatic Services and local government.”
But I’d argue it could lead to a large number of other jobs in growth areas across the technology sector.
A typical Product Manager Salary in the UK is £50,000. If you want to earn more, head stateside where the pay climbs to $137,996 (£105,000) in San Jose, California. In fact, product managers command some of the highest salaries in Silicon Valley.
Product management skills are coveted, argues Ken Norton, a former Google product manager and partner at GV, Google’s venture arm, because “in the long run great product management usually makes the difference between winning and losing.”
Product managers must shepherd a product from concept to completion by setting the vision, understanding customers, enforcing timelines, managing teams, and keeping an eye on the business model.
A product manager at a tech company doesn’t necessarily spend their day coding. But helping to coordinate different parts of the puzzle to help make innovative new products.
As the article in Quartz (qz.com) continues:
“The best product managers possess a broad set of skills which allow them to somehow manage wearing these multiple hats,”.
For more information on what makes a good product manager, check out this article here.
Data science involves multiple disciplines. The reason that you may not need a degree in data science, and why data scientists are so highly sought after, is because the job is really a mashup of different skill sets rarely found together.
A PPE graduate who is at the more numerate end of the spectrum might be well-suited to what many polls cite as one of the best jobs around today. Data science involves a mix of statistics and computer science, but it also suits people who have strong interpretative skills.
In an article titled The Hard and Soft Skills of a Data Scientist, Todd Nevins provides a list of soft skills becoming more common in data scientist job requirements, including:
- Manage teams and projects across multiple departments on and offshore.
- Consult with clients and assist in business development.
- Take abstract business issues and derive an analytical solution.
So what do they do exactly?
Data scientists analyse and interpret complex digital data, such as the usage statistics of a website, especially in order to assist a business in its decision-making. A data scientist takes raw data and marries it with analysis to make it accessible and more valuable for an organization. To do this, they need a unique blend of skills – a solid grounding in math and algorithms and a good understanding of human behaviours, as well as knowledge of the industry they’re working in, to put their findings into context. From here, they can unlock insights from the datasets and start to identify trends.
Oh and a Senior Data Scientist in the US can earn an average salary of $128,011 per year.
A reluctance to specialize, an expert in blagging and a love of new ideas can make the PPEist well-suited to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship requires you to use lots of different parts of your personality. My life involves storytelling, analysing data, researching, tech, marketing and management. It forces me to get acquainted with new disciplines and stay on top of the latest thinking in so many different areas. It rewards me for being curious, which is good because the PPEist often is.
Granted, entrepreneurship is not a road to guaranteed fortune. It can be a complete rollercoaster. But if you’re used to having the biggest reading list of all your friends and still having a social life, then you might well have the resilience and self-belief to make it as an entrepreneur.
These are just three more ideas on top of all the usual traditional options that people associate with a PPE degree. Keep an eye on the Start Me Up Blog for more inspiration. If you like the idea of gaining experience in any of the fields above, then find out more about our Bali internships – experience an amazing tropical island and improve your CV at the same time.
Read our blog about 6 of the most successful philosophy graduates!