The Humbling Truth of Data Skills – They Are Incomplete Without Compassion

COVID-19 is a tragedy. When schools closed and stay-at-home orders increased; pandemonium. All of a sudden, we are afraid for our loved ones, a friend’s hug is an overstep, Amazon is out of stock and panic has taken over. When our generation’s biggest health crisis began, it brought with it a virtual reality that has been foreshadowed for a long time. Students began looking for technical courses because before it was recommended. Now it’s the only option; without a digital education, one is hard-pressed to find their dream career.

As a student of the Humanities majoring in English and Philosophy, I belong to a group of students, who fall behind the digital curve of tomorrow’s workplace. With my summer internship cancelled, I was lost on what to do while staying indoors at home in India, which has been on lockdown for 1.5 months. I was worried, because most virtual internships required a specific set of skills, most of which I am yet to attain. Like me, there are several students looking to repair lost opportunities, but falling short because of the uncertain job climate. But on the flip side, many of us are safe in the comfort of home while first responders risk their lives to contain the crisis. Ultimately, it all boiled down to a choice – be grateful or be worried.

Even though I chose gratitude, it goes hand-in-hand with compassion. Acknowledging the privilege of education and momentary health begets a duty towards the community. In a climate where it has been easy to feel like an island, I am grateful to have been able to seek out those groups that value compassion as the core of their strategy for impact. Reaching out, offering service, and making a conscious effort to maintain higher levels of empathy are increasingly important as our world grows steadily distant. Doing so has helped me maintain and revitalize relationships, such that it has emphasized both compassion and digital skills as vital tools to make a tangible impact in any industry.

In our new data-driven world, less attention has been given to the evolution of compassion than that of artificial intelligence. The coronavirus pandemic has reinstated the depth of both these fields, and I have learned that there can never be enough knowledge in either of them. Even though the transition from a physical to virtual setting has jolted me out of my comfort zone, it is a reality that I believe is increasingly important to accept. But even then, I have found myself leveraging the importance of compassion in the purpose of digital models of marketing, innovation and statistics. While artificial intelligence continues to grow in its reach across businesses, it is accompanied by a constant partner in soft skills.

Through all the uncertainty and fear COVID-19 has brought, it has also proved that any pursuit for the greater good – alongside a strong set of technical skills, requires an even larger reserve of kindness, compassion and resilience.

Article summary: In our new data-driven world, less attention has been given to the evolution of compassion than that of artificial intelligence. In this post, I share how the coronavirus pandemic reinstates why values like gratitude, compassion and resilience are essential complements to a growing demand for technical skills.

By Mamta Saraogi
Bates College, Class of 2021

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