What Does a Classics Major Know About Coding?

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My fall semester spent studying environmental policy in the EU opened my eyes to the intricacies and excitement of the energy industry. After one semester of readings and lectures, as well as a trip to the Paris Climate Summit, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to pursue an internship in the energy industry.

Great for me, right? I finally had an answer to the painful question, “What do you want to do after graduation?” The issue, however, was that I’m a classics major. I study Latin and Attic Greek; I read philosophy as homework; I perform poetry in Latin for tests. The energy industry, especially renewable energy, relies heavily on complex geographic information systems, data mapping, and countless hours of data manipulation and coding. I’m not even allowed to bring computers to some of my classes. I was overwhelmed with self-doubt as I filled out applications: Thoughts like, “This is a waste of time,” and “no one is going to take me seriously” stopped me mid-page in my cover letters. After all, what does a classics major know about geospatial coding?

So I did what every member of Generation Z does when faced with crippling self-doubt: I looked to Google for an answer.

I found my answer in a message board about the advantages of majoring in classics: studying ancient texts helps you develop ways to think about language analytically, in ways that other disciplines do not. If I can learn to read and write in Latin and Attic Greek, then by Jove, I can learn to code in a new language. Much to my surprise, that bold, somewhat unfounded assumption of mine, was right. I am six weeks into a position as a GIS intern at a solar development company, and I’m learning to read and write code for object relational databases. I realize now that I shouldn’t have panicked about choosing the wrong major, or being unemployed indefinitely. Davidson has equipped me with the curiosity and work ethic necessary to learn and do well in any industry.

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Amanda Lee '17

Amanda Lee ’17 is a classics major and German minor from Jacksonville, Fla. She is interned at a solar development company in Charlotte as part of Davidson’s Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Internship program.

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