Student stories

Co-op student’s humanities background gives her an edge in tech research

Lindsey Willis

BC Ministry of Technology, Innovation, and Citizens’ Services

To some, Lindsey Willis might not seem like the ideal candidate for a co-op placement researching tech innovations. A double major in history and Slavic studies, she has no formal schooling in business or technology. Instead, Lindsey spent her time at UVic studying Russian literature, the history of the Middle East, and other topics well within the humanities canon. But that humanities background ended up making her the perfect fit for an eight-month co-op position as a technology and market intelligence research analyst for the BC Ministry of Technology, Innovation, and Citizens’ Services.

“They saw how research comes to someone in humanities a lot easier,” Lindsey explains. “We write all the time; we write essays and do research very quickly. So they really liked how I could push out so many research projects in a short amount of time.” Lindsey’s position normally goes to an MBA student, several of whom applied alongside her.

The job itself involves researching tech innovations and producing written materials to help guide policymakers in their decisions. Some of the issues Lindsey has examined include the potential security risks of different technological devices and the logistics of incorporating drones and other technology into the workplace.

An enthusiastic undergraduate scholar of history and literature, Lindsey did not originally see herself working in a tech-based environment. And the apparent incongruity of her background certainly is not lost on her co-workers: “You hear people … like, when I say my background is in the humanities, they’re like, Oh. That’s interesting. Why do you have this job?” She laughs. “I get that sometimes.”

But Lindsey believes that the skills she picked up in the humanities have been key to her success in tech research. “It was very eye-opening to realize that I could research technology, because I have research and writing skills.”

After her co-op term officially ends in May 2017, Lindsey will stay on with the ministry temporarily. In the long term, she looks forward to applying her passion for research and analysis to any number of fields, including customer experience analysis, intelligence research, or foreign service.

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