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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Obscure concentrators, rejoice. Whether you want to become an investment banker, a teacher, a
journalist or even a Bollywood star, your University degree can help take you there - regardless of your major.
By Daniel Strauss and Jessica Vosgerchian ( Daily Staff Writers
Oct. 10, 2007 - Business School deeply and project are competi- that despite the stiff competition
alum Ajay Anand thought he was tive candidates for careers in law for entertainment jobs, he man-
destined to buy and sell securi- or business, which Poggi said are aged to find one with prospects
ties. Like countless other students, popular for theatre students, along for promotion soon after gradua-
Anand had set his sights on the withproducing,directingandother tion. Not all graduates are so fortu-
most glamorous and well compen- entertainment-related fields. nate. Especially in competitive and
sated career path he could think of "The degree you get at Michigan popular fields, many people find
- investmentbanking. is very flexible," he said. themselves pursuing careers only
"Iapplied fortheBusinessSchool Some students are able to bend tangentially related to their major
for no reason other than a friend their credentials with greater ease out of necessity - not choice.
told meI can make'six figures right than others. Brian Spitulnik, who graduated
out of graduation," he said. "I really Business School alum Jason Coo- from the University in 2005 with
didn't know alot about other career per, a former Michigan Daily photo a concentration in musical theatre,
options or what investnent bank- editor, also has his sights set on the found himself straying from the
ing was, except you could make X entertainment industry after turn- traditional path, but not volun-
amount of money." - ing away from investment bank- tarily. Spitulnik dreams of writing
But even the promise of a mam- ing. Cooper works as an executive and starring in his own shows, but
moth paycheck couldn't bring him assistant at a talent agency in Los when he moved to New York after
to go into the field after hearing Angeles, a job he compares to that graduation, he found himself tak-
about a friend's internship and the of the maltreated secretary Lloyd ing a variety of bizarre jobs to make
90 hour work weeks that are stan- in the HBO series "Entourage." ends meet as he auditioned.
dard for fledgling bankers. "It's incredibly low-paying, He sprayed perfume on pass-
And after completing pre-med demeaning work," Cooper said ersby at Macy's and handed out
requirements in addition to the He spends his 12-hour workdays fliers for Freezer Aid at a gay pride
Business Schoolcurriculum,Anand parade. There was also a stint play-
decided he didn't want to be a doc- ing in the musical "Gentlemen
tor, either. "The degree you Prefer Blondes" to a restaurant
It was at a month-long acting audience who was "sipping blue
camp he attended in India that he cocktails and chewing steak," Spit-
discovered his dream job was in get at M ichigan ulnik recalled. He worked as a per-
creative performance. * 1 sonal assistant for a while, helping
Right now, he's savingthe money 1SiVery ieX uie. a famous Broadway face whom he
he earns at a consulting job so he asked not be named. He sorted his
can return to India in a few years to taxes, coordinated meals and even
pursue film and music projects he convinced him to try out a dating
said are waiting for him. answering phone calls and listen- site. Later, he found himself in the
While Anand's story may sound ing in on meetings at a company hit show "Beauty and the Beast"
unusual, it's notuncommon for stu- that pairs the producers of reality - playing a knife.
dents who think they've got it all TV shows with networks looking "I remember being dressed as
figured out to switch careers mid- for the next "Survivor." a knife, doing that kickline at the
stream. According to a recent study Cooper said assistants at the end of 'Beauty and the Beast', and
conducted by The New York Times, agency are often yelled at, made thinking, is this what I'm going to
only 59 percent of University of scapegoats and sent out for too- do with my life?"
Michigan graduates from 2002 are personal errands by the entertain- As it turned out, it isn't. In June,
employed in the field they studied ment tycoons they work for, but Spitulnik landed a part in the long-
in college. that people who hang on for two running and wildly popular musi-
That doesn't mean their educa- to three years are thought to have cal "Chicago" on Broadway. Of
tions went to waste. Eighty-three what it takes to cut it in showbiz. course, that's not in the cards for
percent of those surveyed also said "It's a crash course in the enter- every grad: Sone talented people
their undergraduate education pre- tainment industry," he said. "It's will never perform on Broadway
pared them for the work they're the most valuable education I've and some will wait years before
doing. gotten." they get a reliable performance
That's part of the beauty of a Senior year was complete with paycheck. Even though the Univer-
liberal arts education, said Greg investment banking interviews sity's musical theatre department is
Poggi, chair of the University's for Cooper, but after writing his one of the best in the country, with
Department of Theatre and Drama. senior thesis on documentary film many graduates going on to star in,
Eventhoughstudents inhis depart- production, he decided to move to produce and write Broadway hits,
ment 'earn specialized degrees, Los Angeles and work his way up to there are certainly musical theatre
University graduation require- film producer. Cooper said he was majors who find themselves in a
ments mandate that they round out one of the only Business School less-than-glamorous performance
their education. This means that seniors he knew who didn't have a jobs. Several people have spent
even students who spent their col- job lined up after graduation. time on cruise ships and at least
lege years learning how to breathe Cooper was lucky in the sense one graduate stripped to make a
Whether you sharpen your skills in business, medicine, law, athletics or otherwise during your time at the University, there's a
good chance you'll be working outside your area of expertise in the real world.
little extra cash.
This is where double majors,
which Poggi says are common
among theatre students, comes in
handy. It can hardly hurt to have
a fallback plan. Many students
discover early that their passion
lies outside their major, but just as
often, whether it's a midlife crisis
or the prospect of spending life on
a chorus line dressed as a piece
of cutlery, people switch careers.
Without a double major, some go
back to school for an extra degree,
but most often, a specialized educa-
tion isn't necessary.
The U.S. Department of Labor
estimates that the average 30-
something will have held nine full-
or part-time jobs. So while many
LSA parents might despair that
their child's major is too vague, a
well-rounded education might be
just what graduates need to stay
competitive when they switch
Adam Benson, a former Daily
sports editor, graduated in 1990
with a degree in political science.
Afterward, he interned at the Los
Angeles Times and then worked at
CNN and WXYZ, Detroit's ABC
1 affiliate. He liked broadcast
journalism but said the life of a
broadcaster - the moving around,
the unusual hours - got old for
him. So Benson made a switch
that actually took him closer to his
undergraduate education, and he
became the press secretary for U.S..
Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn).
"Television is kind of a young
person's game," he said. "You know,
you do that for a while, you move
around a lot. You-keep odd hours
and you get to a point where you're
like, you know, I need something a
little bit different. I felt a real need'
to do something that had deeper
meaning to me."
Benson is doing something he
likes, which means that, statisti-
cally speaking, he lucked out. Once
they settle in, it seems that many
people are hesitant to give up their
prospects for a pension, even if they
don't like the work. In a 2004 study
conducted by the University of
Chicago, 51 percent of Americans
reported low job satisfaction.
Some, people think switching
fields is harder than it actually is.
"Journalism is a great example
because we don't have a journalism
major, but we have plenty of stu-
dents who go into that field," said
Lynne Sebille-White, an assistant
director at the Career Center.
She said students' majors gen-
erally only loosely pertain to their
careers. There's nothing wrong
with that she said, so long as stu-
dents are able to prepare them-
selves in other ways.
It takes a lot of research though,
.she said, and "getting tapped into
the network that you want to
become part of."
Angie Justianknetshe wouldn't
be putting her degree in business
to its conventional uses when she
graduated in 2007. So right out of
college, instead of pursuing riches
or fame, she started work at a
non-profit organization, Teach for
Now Justian works 7 a.m. to 7
p.m., providing a math education to
seventh graders in New York-City,
many of whom haven't mastered
English or pre-algebra.
The job lets participants earn a
master's in education for free, but
the compensation falls far short of
the paychecks commonly associ-
ated with a Business School degree.
That doesn't bother her, though.
She'd rather be in the ranks of the
people who like their job.
"Right out of graduation, I didn't
really see myself at a deskall day
typingin Excel," she said.
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