This off-topic ramble is in response to a couple of discussions I’ve had recently about the value of marketing degrees in relation to actual careers in marketing…
I have an undergrad degree in Journalism and an MBA. I own an ad agency (at least we call it that for shorthand). I value formal education, but not because it trained me or made filled my head with a bunch of stuff I couldn’t have learned any other way.
In fact, the most important thing my formal education taught me, especially my MBA, is how to live within and effect change within the traditional business world. It taught me the language, values and cultural mores of that world.
But it was the 15+ jobs I held before that (frozen food manager, retail salesperson, UPS truck loader, bowling alley mechanic, etc.) along with excessive reading, talking and learning taught me how to be a marketer. That is, it my crazy life experiences that has/continue to help me understand people and the world around me.
I recommend that everyone take the time and effort to get a college degree. Even better if you pick a school that’s away from home, not the choice of your parents, and pay for it yourself. Then take eclectic classes (American Radicalism, African History and World Poetry were three of my favorites). Sure, take some marketing and business classes, but don’t let them fill too much of your time.
A degree in psychology, history or mathematics can set one up for a wonderful career in marketing. Just about any degree can. We should all stop treating college like it is a trade school. For most of us it isn't. Things simply change too fast. College is foundational education that helps you see the world from different perspectives and, yes, learn how to learn.
One last thought: I'm always tentative to hire people with business and marketing degrees. I find that path is often (but definitely not always!) a reflection of a lack of curiosity or love for the unexpected. That's a generalization, of course, but a person who has chosen that path, especially if they went straight from high school to college to study business or marketing, carries the burden of demonstrating that they are more adaptive, interesting and inquisitive than that life path suggests.
I don’t mean to offend or demean anyone with this post. We’ve all had different ways of getting to where we are today. What works for one, may not work for another.
Best of luck…with whatever route chooses you.