THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Drink deeply: Broad background better than business
Current college fad: racking up double, triple, and even quadruple majors in order to impress future employers. This strategy is fraught with irony because, in effect, someone who has a triple major screams, "Don't hire me. I'll be a management disaster!"
My advice to all you triple majors is to dump the excessive course load and get a life. If you want to impress employers, use college as a time to demonstrate creativity, curiosity, quick learning, and good social skills. Here's why:
A triple major exhibits no creativity. The most creative act is to choose a path for your life. College is an early opportunity to decide what you want to do with yourself, one course at a time. Cramming your schedule full of required courses for two or three majors is a rejection of creativity.
In effect, you allow someone else to dictate your path for four years. Business visionaries set paths to goals that other people could never have thought of. Practice being a visionary in college by choosing a path no one else could choose.
A triple major is not for the intellectually curious. If you love learning, then you'll take whatever classes you want and you won't worry if they add up to another major. People who need their courses to add up to a major are people who are conditioned to learn only for an external reward. Employers need people who will be curious even after the grading system is over. In college, learn for learning's sake, not for the department head's approval.
A triple major is for the timid. A broad education teaches you to learn diverse topics quickly. Practice learning something new by taking courses in each of the departments in your college rather than cowering in the safety of topics you're majoring in. Business requires a wide breadth of knowledge– writing, finance, technology, psychology, sociology. You can't learn every idea in school, but you can learn to pick up new ideas quickly.
Once you're committed to choosing just one major, stay away from business. In college you need to learn how to think broadly and critically. How you think is much more important than if you know how to map a brand strategy.
You have your whole life to study business; college is your time for Shakespeare, Schopenhauer, and science experiments. In this new era of downtrodden, low-key CEOs, one CEO stands out for her star power: Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard. And guess what her major was? English.
Finally, take some blow-off courses. You need time to develop social skills, because when it comes to business they cannot be stressed enough. Go to parties and make conversation with someone you didn't think you liked. Figure out how to like something about that person because that's an important part of management– figuring out how to like even the most unlikable people.
And stop by during your professor's office hours. Don't have something to say? Make something up. That's what life will be like with your boss. Face time will be everything, and you'll have to be savvy and strategic about how to get yourself in front of him and make him enjoy talking to you.
Learn how to make people like you. The smartest are not promoted. The most likable are promoted. Dump the extra majors and use college as a time to learn about yourself. The more you understand yourself, the better you'll be able to relate to other people. That's what will really help you succeed in business.