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Why am I majoring in business?

| Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Last semester, my advisor at Mendoza’s Undergraduate Advising Office asked me a simple, but tough question: “Lauren, why are YOU majoring in business? You know, you don’t necessarily have to.”

It would seem obvious that no, I don’t have to, but here’s some background. My name is Lauren, I am a sophomore in Breen-Phillips Hall, double-majoring in Mendoza’s newest Business Analytics major and Visual Communication Design. Most people on campus are surprised when they learn that I’m in the business school. Truth is, in high school I thought I wanted to major in marketing, but then I did one marketing Student International Business Council (SIBC) project and learned an important thing: Marketing is NOT for me. Good to know, let’s cross that one off the list. Well, then, I told myself that I was ‘undeclared’ and tried to be open-minded towards all of the classes that sophomore business majors take: accounting, finance, statistics, marketing, management, IT management — the works. This last year, I’ve crossed off a few more; accounting presentations made me realize the last thing I wanted to be was an accountant; finance with the legendary Carl Ackermann, while entertaining, taught me I could care less about inferring future stock prices and debt-equity ratios; and management felt like I was not learning any real applied skills, at least at the intro level — you see the pattern here.

Like I said, people are surprised when they learn that I am a business major, and to be honest, I can see why. I have three design jobs on campus (including as the graphics editor of The Observer), spend most of my time on projects for my few design classes and am the type of person to pick up and leave for a weekend to attend a hack-a-thon across the country and do design things.

So let’s circle back. Why am I a business major? Why am I sacrificing flexibility, study abroad, stable workloads and interesting classes to dedicate over 60 credit hours to classes I don’t necessarily have a lot of personal or career interest in?

When my dad asked me the same question over winter break, I didn’t have a ‘good’ answer for him. There is the surface-level answer which cites rankings, employment statistics, practicality, well-roundedness and future prospects, but I would say it comes down to the psychological principles of sunk-cost fallacy and escalation of commitment (which I learned in a management class; thank you, Mendoza). I tell myself, “You’ve invested this much, you’ve told so many people you’re a business major and you might have come to Notre Dame because, at the time, it offered one of the best biz schools in the country.”

So here I am, still a business major. And a design major. I usually neglect to mention the first and emphasize the second, even though Mendoza is my home college. I’m majoring in business analytics because it is brand new and so far, I have not encountered an introductory class that has explicitly indicated this major would be a bad fit for me. Oh, and machine learning and sports data analytics sound like cool electives. We’ll see. Is this what the Notre Dame Career Center means when they challenge us to identify our Values, Interests, Personality and Skills (VIPS) to make an informed decision?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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