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Having just read the "Tell us about yourself" thread in 'Andy's Fashion Forum', I'm amazed at the range of occupations there are on the site, and felt like some of this knowledge should be tapped for the young member of AAAC forums who are thinking about potential careers.

What sort of advice would you give to people chosing their career, or yourself if you got to chose all over again?

How important do you think your degree choice was in your career? Should I just chose something I enjoy and go for it, or should I think about my career choices first?
As a mentor, the advice I give the most is: There is no such thing as "job security." There is only "market security." This is an absolute statement and the world is much grayer, but I am usually trying to wake up people that are RIP or ROAD.

Most people are "good at something", but fail to acquire skills and credentials that keep them marketable; either as an employee or a business. They incorrectly focus on "getting and keeping their job."

I was watching Jamie Dimon CEO of JPM Chase speak just today and he said the top talent always finds good paying jobs.

Along the same thought path, don't think about getting your "degree" think about "credentials."

Following the "get degree, get job, punch clock 9-5" roadmap can work, but it leaves you on the tail end of the dog sometimes.

Lastly, before taking career advice from someone look at them critically and ask "is this person really fulfilled."

I made my own way pretty much, but I ended up with client relationships with two really neat, older, successful businessmen - guys that live life to the absolute fullest. They both made money and they really know how to use it for good - to make their lives and the lives of others better. When I really need advice they're the ones I ask for it.

Here's an anecdote I share that one gave me: "Nothing looks better in the driveway than a Ferrari, but nothing feels better coming out of a turn than a Porsche." This man had owned several of each. Who but a man that had owned multiple of each could tell you that and you could rely on his advice? Take business and career advice the same way.

Find a good mentor.

Good Luck!
 

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From what you are saying, the package of skills I am going to need will change over time, and will be developed on the job. Would you therefore advise that I get a degree in order to broaden myself and add to my education, therefore go for something like a liberal arts degree, such as philosophy (probably one of my favorite areas of study)?
Well, that depends.

Is it your desire to be a teacher or professor of philosophy?

When evaluating your choices ask yourself what marketable skills you learn in a specific curriculum?

While studying philosophy may make you better at something else it may or may not be marketable. For example, I think I would feel better if my doctor studied philosophy (she makes some very narrow-minded recommendations sometimes), but I'm glad her degree is in medicine. :icon_smile_wink:
 

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In my experience, one's undergraduate degree does not necessarily correlate with your ultimate career.

The folks with an undergraduate major in an unrelated field and a masters in planning required some on the job training. In the long run the people with the BS topped out sooner than those with the broader perspective that came with an undergraduate degree in something other than planning. History and English seemed good majors in terms of providing a foundation for long term success.

So, by all means consider following your preferences in choosing an undergraduate major with the expectation of further career-specific graduate training.

Hope this helps,
Gurdon
I agree that biggest difference will be in the immediacy of getting a quality job with only the undergrad. My Wife only has an undergrad in Accounting, but she got a great job as a clerk while still in school, and worked her way up through staff accountant jobs to Controller. Today she is Controller/Accounting Manager of a $150M company. It took her 5 years to become a Controller at her first company out of University ~1996 and she has been one since. However, she is topped out; i.e. she cannot jump to CFO position without a CPA and/or MBA. She had some big pay raises along the way, but has been making about the same money for the last 5 years (at the highend of non-CPA Controller pay.)

While the example given works and there are many exceptions to general rules; there are some that may not. For example, having an undergrad in accounting makes a much better MBA-Finance IMHO. They say Accounting is the language of Finance, but they don't necessarily teach you that language in a finance major.

I had one specific example with an MBA-Finance major that didn't really understand the difference between Debt and Equity partly because she had never prepared I/S and B/S. She knew what Debt and Equity were in finance terms, but she didn't understand how they work because she had never made the accounting entries. Also there is a completely different perspective on valuation from accounting to finance. Accountants are pretty much book value people. Finance people believe whatever crazy valuation model you give them! LOL just kidding all you mortgage securitization guys! But, seriously, Finance focuses on net cash flows and being able to put your FASB hat on can make you the only one thinking 'outside the box' sometimes. Which is counter-intuitive because FASB is the box, but Finance guys don't usually know where that box is.

OTOH take 'mark to market' and how badly this has been implemented in banks. This is the opposite probem - too much accounting not enough finance perspective. Accounting and finance approach the same problem from different sides; knowing both is a huge advantage IMHO. It's something different than simply knowing that approaching problems from different sides and knowing how (critical thinking/analysis based on philosophy training) may or may not help you.

MBA-Finance majors take Accounting for Managers; Budgeting for Managers. If you apply to something like the CPA exam these types do not even count as a real accounting courses for your 36 (or 48?) accounting credits. In addition, you need certain amounts of business law, etc. that you cannot get only in a graduate program. You have to take some of these at the undergrad level.

So, your eventual career choice could be ruled out by your undergrad curriculum or could require extra credits beyond your graduate degree or a very narrow graduate program. For example, you can get a Masters in Accounting and probably meet the CPA educational requirements, but it would be cutting it close on business and law credits in the new/higher requirements (post Enron.)

Not that you want to be a CPA, but it's just an example that there are situations where picking a liberal arts undergrad can hurt you, even minimally requiring extra hours. IMHO if you are willing to accept extra hours, pick a more core undergrad and take the philosophy courses you want anyway. I did that with Econ. I just wanted to study it. I think I had almost double the upper division credits in my undergrad program... Summa cum Laude, of course! :icon_smile_big:

Pick a curriculum that has the information you want to learn and apply when you get out of school. I know guys that are in sales, but have BSEEs. They sell stuff for HP. :)

Sorry for going long ...
 

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Another thing to consider is that we are in a new era of competition. Some of the things people "got away with" - switching majors - in the past may not work out as well in the future. Look at how all these clones that went to Wharton have screwed up the world. After we get the economy going again, the attention is going to turn to preventing this sort of institutional incompetence. That is how, in 2004, the AICPA went from simply requiring a degree to stipulating the number and type of courses you had to take in your curriculum before sitting for the exam; and increasing CEU requirements to include areas like ethics. I would look for these trends to become more pervasive in other careers over time.

Sorry to focus on my own area so much, but I hope you can apply my experience to your specific situation easily.
 

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In 1988 I started at the University of Georgia and lived in a dorm at Russell Hall. I changed majors several times and worked in some dead-end jobs while trying to decide what to do in an MBA program. Another guy who started at the same time, lived in the same dorm, but majored in the field that I'm currently in, is now the person my manager reports to.

The only difference is that he made up his mind and pursued this career about five years before I did.
Ouch! I hope you at least have some compromising pictures of him ... :icon_smile_big:
 

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I decided a long time ago that I would never get anywhere in life if all I wanted was a job.

As I see it, jobs are for slaves. A "job" is something that is assigned to you. Someone else is directing your tasks. Someone else is deciding what you will be doing. This person makes these assignments for his benefit, not yours. This is the factual nature of employment.

As an employee, I always resented the employer on some level. On the surface, one must pretend to be enthusiastic and loyal, and to some extent and for some periods of time, it was true. But in the long run, the employment relationship is one of control and subordination.

I found that the only route to true joy and fulfillment is through entrepreneurship. This is especially true if, as you say, you are interested in business, such as sales, marketing, etc. But it applies everywhere. I had a brief experience in marketing right out of college, and I really enjoyed it. Opportunities in that field are literally everywhere.

But to (a) make it and (b) to find a path to real fulfillment, in a sales/marketing business or anything else, you have to get out of the mindset that leads to enslaving yourself to someone else's company.

Start a business, even if you have to get a job temporarily to make ends meet while you grow this business on the side. Provide real value to people. Find people who are eager to give you money for whatever it is that you provide.

When you spend your time with people who are glad to buy your product or service, so that every day is finding new ways for you and your trading partners (e.g., customers) to mutually benefit, then you will be rich and happy.

And stay out of debt.
Amen!
 
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