It has now been three years since I began working on TalentEgg. I came in “guns blazing,” with strong opinions on everything from resumés to the value of an arts degree to the campus recruitment process as a whole.
One major lesson that I’ve learned over the past three years is the value and/or importance of being able to separate your personal convictions from your business goals. In most cases, I’m happy (and feel lucky) to say that TalentEgg as a company allows for a lot of intersections, i.e., the things I believe in are naturally executed through what we do at TalentEgg.
However, in other cases, this isn’t possible. For example, my belief in the value of an arts and sciences education. Or perhaps, more accurately, my belief that the value of a business education is grossly overestimated/overcompensated. Especially in business, too many employers let students’ majors dictate their hireability.
An article was published on the Career Incubator (our online magazine) today talking about how you can get a job in marketing without a marketing degree. It was generally well received, but it also started an intense debate between me and Zaki Zaheer (@zakizaheer), a York University marketing student and Marketing Director/co-founder of Water Creative, on Twitter about whether it’s possible for someone without a marketing degree to have a successful career in marketing.
Zaheer says he believes that in order to be a competent marketing professional, you must have a degree in marketing:
“how much do [non-marketing-majors] know in practice about the implementation of CRM – properly and customer retention etc. and ofcourse the development of a marketing strategy/ies and segmentations market research and the analysis of it.”
This, along with many other things he said during our conversation, truly blew my mind. Although certain professions, such as accounting, engineering, medicine, etc., require testing and certification, the general sphere of marketing and business are not professions and require no certification at all.
Is it possible that people still believe that knowledge such as “developing a marketing strategy” or “segmenting a market” is rocket science, whose complexity can only be deciphered by someone who is formally educated in business?
Most smart, hard-working people can be successful in business if they want to be, if they make the right choices, if they connect and collaborate with the right people, if they demonstrate that they’re committed to success. At the entry-level, an arts grad with the right on-the-job training (through internships and graduate training programs) is better prepared to succeed in the business world than a business grad with no work experience at all.
I know from my own experience running TalentEgg that you don’t need a business or marketing degree to be successful in this industry. None of the core team members at TalentEgg has a business degree. We’re all arts and science grads (two economics, one psychology and one journalism) and we’ve figured out how to successfully market our products and services just fine through research, trial and error, and common sense.
After three years of working in and on the business of TalentEgg, I sometimes find myself very far away from the Lauren who started with fierce determination not only to build a great company, but to change campus recruitment as a whole. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become a bit complacent on issues that I used to be really passionate about in order to focus on the day-to-day execution of TalentEgg: marketing, sales, business strategy, accounting, human resources and more. (Surprise! I didn’t go to school for any of those either.)
So, thank you, Zaki Zaheer, for reigniting my passion to continue to fight to give smart, ambitious, capable students the chance they deserve to connect and be recruited by top employers, regardless of their degree title.
October 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm
Urgh to Zaki. I don’t have a business degree. Actually, I don’t have any degree, but I can–cockiness aside, more so confidence–probably implement all of what he said better than any ho-hum business grad.
October 23, 2010 at 11:48 am
Couldn’t agree more. Business degrees are overvalued, but that may be a flaw in the education system and how we align our academic program choices to careers. A degree in business gives you the tools, but using those tools is a different story.