Do business majors have an advantage?

Does a particular major give you an advantage in today’s job market? If you were to look to the enrollments in professional school programs around the country you might come to the conclusion that there is a benefit to these ‘vocational’ programs.

Do you want to be an accountant or an engineer? Do you need an undergraduate business degree to find a job in business? If you want to be a filmmaker and didn’t get into a film program is your career over?

If you’re not planning to be an accountant or an engineer, it really doesn’t matter what you choose as an undergraduate major. What is important is that you choose a major that you enjoy. If you are actively engaged in your studies, you will do well and it will be reflected in your GPA. You should seek out internships that will give you an opportunity to demonstrate the practical application of your education.

David Brooks writing in The New York Times imagined an alternative universe to today’s trend to vocationalize higher education.

“Just once I’d like to have a college student come up to me and say, “I really wanted to major in accounting, but my parents forced me to major in medieval art.”

As I write this I know there are many of you who are doubters. But let’s look at your competition. With the exception of the University of Pennsylvania, none of the Ivy League schools have an undergraduate business major. Employers hiring at those schools are looking at traditional liberal arts majors.

Check out the bios of the folks who are leaders in your particular field. You may be surprised to see how many theater, philosophy and history majors are leading Fortune 500 organizations. And those filmmakers? How many of them have succeeded because they know how to tell a story and select a score to create the perfect visual image without knowing all the technical aspects of film?

The message here is to look at your undergraduate education as a time for intellectual exploration. There are so many career options, even in an economic downturn. It just does not make sense to narrow your choices prematurely. Take electives, get out of your comfort zone. Don’t go for the easy classes, take the ones that challenge you to think and stretch your capabilities. This is what will prepare you for the workplace after graduation.