February 25, 2016

You identified two problems but do not propose any solutions to either one; and you missed the two real problems.

This open letter from a young customer support employee of Yelp in San Francisco to her CEO has garnered a variety of comments that display a common bifurcation: some are sympathetic to her struggle to get by in a very costly region on a modest salary, while others wonder if the letter is an Onion parody of clueless entitlement: An Open Letter To My CEO .

I am sympathetic to anyone who arrives in a very competitive "big city" with no local contacts and not a lot of experience or specialized training. That describes me when I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area a few decades ago.

My B.A. is in philosophy, which has a similar market value to your degree in English, i.e. near-zero. But this doesn't mean my training in philosophy has no value; it simply means you can't walk up to a potential employer and say, "Hi, I have a degree in philosophy, hire me."

The value is only reaped by applying what you have learned . Studying philosophy taught me a number of specific analytic skills: to seek out false assumptions and identify problems and potential solutions. If you can't frame the problem accurately and coherently, it's impossible to identify any useful solutions.

These skills have served me well, despite my "worthless" degree. Though nobody had any sound reason to pay me a lot of money simply because I had a B.A. in philosophy, life presents a constant flow of problems that need to be analyzed in ways that enable the development of solutions.

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