02 December 2006


Unlike many of the more considerate bloggers out there, I simply disappeared rather than formally announcing a break. And it was a month long. Oops. Ah, but now we're heading into finals, which can mean only one thing: procrastination! And what better way to procrastinate than to write things and assume you have nothing better to do than read them?

I did my first alumni interview for my alma mater today and the student whom I was interviewing is also applying to my current institution. This worked out well for her since I was able to offer perspective on two of her choices, but now I have no formal way to notify my current school that while she's probably quite smart, she lacks that pizazz that I associate with the people I matriculated with.

In fact, she is planning on going to business school. She is the second person in the past few days that has expressed this future plan and in both cases I have proven to be a huge hippocrite. I have a business degree. I chose to get that degree. I switched out of a science degree to earn it. But I counseled both these young ones to get something else. Economics maybe, but not business. The unfortunate thing about a business degree is that is qualifies you exclusively for business jobs and you're actually still fairly likely to lose the spot to an engineer or an economist. Quant is in, so if you have the brains you are better served getting a more quantitative degree and taking the spot from a business major. I'm not saying you can't get a job with a business degree, but you better be a business kid with a whole lot of real math (not watered down business math). Well, at least in finance.

You know what the frustrating thing is? I was a business kid with a whole lot of math and do you know what I actually used when I got to my oh-so-coveted finance job? Differential equations (not required by business curriculum), writing (something employers ought to be looking at), statistics, databases, and programming. The last two also landed me my current job. It's a very good thing I got my business degree from the institution I did.

Business degrees prepare you for a job managing people, which is a job you won't actually hold in business for quite some time. Your first years are spent doing a lot of scutwork and the way you differentiate yourself is to teach computers to do the scutwork for you. That, and be able to form coherent, articulate sentences and say them without five "ums" and a "you know?". You spend four years learning how to effectively give orders and then graduate to 10 years of taking them.

There should be a new class added to the curriculum to supplement the strategy lessons: Interpersonal Politics. It should cover:
- How to get people to do what you want when you have no leverage
- How to differentiate the people you want as your allies
- How to recognise the ones trying to take you down
- How to maintain network contacts without looking like an idiot
- How to get around people in your way
- How to work with people that annoy the hell out of you
- How to deal with a boss that's dumber than you
- How to read between the lines

Actually, adding a class in No Limit Texas Hold'em wouldn't be a bad idea for the finance concentration. Poker is the Wall st. golf.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Ahahahaha, you have to program for your job? I remember when you were taking 100 . . .