Makes You Different: New degree programs offer competitive job opportunities

Before applying to college, Annabelle Cotton, a junior digital storytelling and interactive design student, was torn between studying computer engineering and studying English and media studies. She didn’t just want to study programming, but she didn’t just want to study humanities either.

“I found out there was this major where I could only do half and half of that — still working with people, but still working in a STEM field that was really important to me,” Cotton, a peer -Advisor at Pitt’s School of Computing and Information, said. “When I found out that Pitt majored in this, it generally validated my decision to come to Pitt.”

Pitt has added several new majors since 2018, giving students the opportunity to pursue a broader range of careers after graduation. Majors such as Digital Narrative and Interactive Design, Museum Studies, and Public and Professional Writing prepare students for a variety of positions in the competitive and ever-evolving job market.

Cotton said the university began offering the DNID major in 2019 and required students to take a combination of computer science and English composition courses. According to that SCIs site, Offered jointly by Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and SCI, the DNID major teaches students how to build interactive storytelling systems through games, literature, virtual reality environments, and other media experiences in a variety of fields.

Maria D’Anniballe, a college advisor and lecturer in the Department of Art History and Architecture, said the university officially began offering the museum studies major in the Fall 2020 semester. According to that HAA department Through this website, students in this program learn about the history and politics of museology and develop the critical and theoretical tools to address the ethical complexities of collecting and preserving works of art, visual and material cultures.

“[Museum studies] is flexible and interdisciplinary,” said D’Anniballe. “It allows students to envision a career that can have multiple paths.”

Dana Nowlin-Russell, the director of the Public and Professional Writing program, said the university began offering the Public and Professional Writing major in 2018 composition program Website, the PPW Major allows students to engage in rigorous intellectual work that deepens their engagement with writing as a form of social action and professional exchange that has an impact on the world.

“The PPW major is great for students going into industries where writing is an integral part of the job,” said Nowlin-Russell. “The major is intended to help students to develop skills for communication in professional spaces and in public spaces.”

Cotton said the DNID major prepares students for future careers in areas such as game design, graphics, user experience, user interface, distribution engineering and web design.

“If [students] If you want to work in a STEM company and want to do more human interface and experiential jobs, that’s your major,” Cotton said.

D’Anniballe said the museum studies major is ideal for students who want to pursue a career in museums or other cultural institutions such as libraries, historic sites, state and federal heritage sites, nonprofit organizations, or community-based programs. She also said that students pursuing a degree in museum studies often do a double major in a different field.

“It’s a major that also allows our students to combine their interests in art, art history and objects of art with other majors,” said D’Anniballe. “For example, we have a number of dual majors that study museum studies alongside other majors like anthropology, communications, history and art history.”

Nowlin-Russell said students can pursue a variety of careers after graduating with a PPW degree.

“From working in non-profit organizations, universities and public bodies to law firms, marketing and advertising companies, there is so much you can do,” Nowlin-Russell said.

Cotton said she landed a position as a sales engineer at in the summer of 2021 ChartMogul, a software analytics company based in Berlin, Germany. She said she helped design ads for the company and worked on the website. She also said the company sent her to a conference in Silicon Valley for a week, where she spoke to customers, gave demos and identified customer issues that could be worked on.

“It was about figuring out how to explain how the technology works to buyers who don’t have a technical degree, they’re just buyers for their business,” Cotton said.

According to Cotton, programming is a skill that almost every applicant possesses when applying for a tech job. She said that as society has started to move towards more personalized technology and AI, “being well-rounded” is the most important skill that tech companies are looking for. She said the DNID major taught her programming, math, communication and creativity, which enabled her to acquire a wide range of skills.

“It will really set you apart, especially in today’s job market,” Cotton said. “That will make you special.”

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