I went to a private liberal arts college that, for all intents and purposes, required me to get multiple minors. While I majored in Business with a focus in Marketing, I also hold minors in Creative Writing and Psychology. Speaking from experience, Business - as a general study - leaves a lot of room for influence from other studies. Literature, Music, History, Science, Philosophy - all of these studies offer skills that matter and are useful in a business field. I would argue that it’s important, if not necessary, to be well rounded, though.
If you can analyze your job and your field from an outside perspective, you’ll have a better overall perception of each deal and decision you make. And “liberal arts” degrees will help provide the thinking skills to make high-level decisions in the business world. I thought we could go a bit more simple than that and cover some broad university studies and how they can help with business specifically. Here are some examples of how other fields of study can inform your business career positively.
Literary Arts (English, Literature, Writing)
In Anne E. Cunningham’s study What Reading Does for the Mind, she discovered that reading not only makes one smarter, but it keeps them sharp as they get older. There’s no question that being smart helps with, well, everything. But reading more, as well studying literature and English, will improve one’s reading comprehension. There are countless reasons for a business professional that this is a good thing - contracts, e-mails, important files and documents - but at the end of the day, just know that you will use reading and writing in everything you do for the rest of your life, and the more you know about it the better.
Being knowledgeable about the past is a great way to stay wise about the future. The skills and criteria you use to analyze history are the same ones you use to test facts, testimonies, and speculate on the outcomes of new plans and ideas. As well, a history degree can affect the personal side of business. Making informed decisions on who to work with involves a fair critique of one’s past dealings, which means analyzing others’ testimonies on said person and the outcome of each event. Of course, market analysis will use many of the same tools history does, particularly eye witness evidence.
Science is built on hard evidence and facts. Yes, every study should be built on facts and evidence, but science specifically asks for tangible, concrete evidence. There is less room for speculation in the mind of a scientist, and always room for skepticism. Of course, conclusions are made, but science specifically prepares the mind to admit it has been wrong and correct its course. Particularly, product manufacturing and testing must be proven as close to “beyond the shadow of a doubt” as possible, and a scientific mind will bring the criteria for such a thing.
If there’s anything that people everywhere are terrible at, its reasoning. To think through problems, to properly argue or discuss things - people are taught from a young age to think with their emotions. Even if an introductory philosophy class was required for all college students - or heck, even high school students - they might be able to think more critically. At least teach them some logical fallacies, for crying out loud. Any way, this obviously helps in decision making and dealing with other people. If the motives and reasons for your business decisions are based on false premises, assumptions, or conclusions, a good knowledge of philosophy is useful for deciphering such things.
The study of communications is, in essence, just the study of all kinds of human interaction. The study focuses on three types of human communication, which are verbal, written, and nonverbal. The non verbal section focuses on media as well as body language. I don’t need to explain why good people skills are good for business, but maybe I should say that Communications backgrounds are highly effective in PR and Press fields and in person business deals.
Psychology is the study of the mind and again, much of effective business is learning how to read people. Understanding people and being empathetic enough to know where they’re coming from goes a long way when interacting with others and doing business deals. It allows you to call bull on people’s promises, intentions, and actions. Specifically there is an important aspect to psychology called emotional intelligence, which means being able to detect and be aware of others feelings and opinions. It has been said by some to be “a key to communication” - applicable in any kind of workplace. It allows you to make an informed guess as to why someone may be acting irrationally, or how to persuade them to act in the best interest of both of you.
There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of technology-based jobs in the field of business. For instance, cyber security, IT (fix-it jobs), and technical business jobs (SEO for instance). Just the knowledge of how to use technology well helps in business, maybe more than any other degree. Even the most niched technology degrees, like a business degree, will take you just about anywhere.
Last but certainly not least, those with education degrees put themselves in unique positions for business professions. Teaching requires a knowledge of not only how to teach, but how people learn. In training, this is a rare quality many trainers have. Many of them are just upgraded employees, but to actually be able to teach someone properly takes skills and is something higher paying companies look for. In just having an education degree, you open yourself up to jobs that pay more than the average high school teacher.
What’s your experience with a well rounded college education and your business job? Let me know over at Twitter @Robolitious.
I'm a writer and musician residing in Boise, ID in the United States, although I spent a small amount of time (about three years) living in the UK growing up, due to my father's occupation. I graduated from the College of Idaho with a Bachelor's Degree in Business and a focus in marketing in 2014. I spend a large amount of my time writing nowadays, having contributed content to the Sonic Bids blog, Small Business Can, Small Business Bonfire, Pyragraph, and many more. As a serious musician with a passion for the business side of things and a strong interest in marketing, I tend to keep one foot in the music niche and one foot in the business niche. Feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to [email protected]!