Major mistake


I am definitely working online after graduation. Mark Zuckerberg was a psychology major, Bill Gates pre-law. Should I consider a different major, other than computer science?

Your question is a good one since you are already an experienced consumer for online marketing. In today’s digital age, who would not want a high-paying job at an internet company? The problem is that the skill set needed for online marketing in general is less clear cut than for other fields. This gives rise to the question of what to study to best prepare yourself for an internet career. Naturally, computer skills are indispensable, add to that some coding, social media, brand marketing, or even SEO training, and you are almost there. But you are forgetting one essential ingredient: creativity.

The majority of students opt for the traditional subjects and ology’s for their degrees and spurn the arts. Most that go into the internet or computing businesses have a STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) background. The aptitude to arrive at innovative solutions and think creatively to solve problems is fundamental to success working online. Marketing has shifted from simply slapping ads in front of faces to generating creative content that attracts the attention of readers.

Recruiters for online companies are seeking applicants with non-traditional talents and the ability to bring a new perspective to problem solving. Often, there is no mention of a degree in computer science or other traditional subjects.

Search engine optimization and brand promotion are positions in demand with online organizations. Every company needs to get their product to the top of the search engine list above their competitors. Skills for this role come more from journalism than computer science. You will need to call upon sociology and psychology to become an expert on pay-per-click marketing, explains webmaster at PromoCodeWatch, which entails working out how and why people click through to a website.

One important thing to remember is that your major does not dictate your career choice. Many positions now, especially online, simply did not exist a decade ago. Instead of focusing on the specific subject material, try to look at the skills you are learning at college and how they can be applied in the work place. Bosses will want to see the ability to work in a team and solve problems, bring a new perspective to the table, and respond to a dynamic environment. There is no specific major for this.

Having a commitment to a subject or field helps, as Steve Jobs once said ‘do something you are passionate about’. A degree in computer science is probably the right choice for you, however there are a couple of other college course options that may help broaden your skills. Do not shy away from sociology and psychology, for example, which can be applied to creating new internet concepts and businesses. Online companies have to pioneer new services in order to succeed. Your major is not a direct path to your future profession, so learn to incorporate new approaches.

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all…

President John F. Kennedy.

Written by John Regan, former Director of Sales, for equity research.


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