Top 5 College Majors for Internet Marketers – Since They Don’t Teach This Stuff in School
May 6, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
Think back (or forward) to your college days. What did you get out of the experience? Has it shaped you to be the best Internet marketer you can be? The Internet is still extremely young and many people don’t understand the economy of the web and how industries like SEO and online advertising work. There are no courses in any of the top universities covering Internet marketing and yet businesses online are growing at a rapid rate. When will the US schooling system catch up?
I’ve always had an interest for the Internet, from my first chat room on AOL to this very blog where I discuss some of my online projects. However, the fact of the matter is that everything I know in the realm of SEO and Internet marketing was self taught on my own time. No classroom teacher ever taught me anything on the subject. In fact, I’d be surprised if they know what any of this stuff means.
I graduated last year from Northwestern University with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences. While the field helped me to develop an analytical mind and good business sense, it didn’t really guide me towards the kind of work I wanted to do online. Don’t get me wrong. I learned a ton in college and don’t regret any of it. I think I gained a comprehensive education that has helped to shape me into be the person I am today. However, I was always itching to get online – and university life never satisfied me in that way.
The problem with teaching courses about Internet marketing, SEO, and online business in general is that everything is so fast-changing. The curriculum would constantly have to be changed and degrees would quickly become obsolete. While the laws of physics stay relatively constant, Google’s search algorithm changes in a matter of days.
I don’t blame schools for ignoring the Internet industry, but that doesn’t solve the problem at all. Online marketing is a booming industry that needs attention in the education system. I was lucky enough to stumble upon it independently, but most students will go through college oblivious to a career online.
Looking back, there are 5 college majors that I think would be beneficial for anyone looking to pursue a career online – either for a company or as an entrepreneur. Obviously these don’t directly relate to Internet marketing but I think the knowledge and experience gained in these fields can help set a solid foundation for the industry.
1. Computer Science / Programming
There have been countless occasions where I would think of new website ideas, only to be set back by my own programming limitations. I started off college as a Computer Science major but later decided that it wasn’t for me. It takes a special someone to become a superstar coder, but if you have the opportunity, I definitely recommend you get some programming experience. The Internet runs on a variety of technologies – the more you know, the easier it will be for you to excel.
2. Business / Marketing
Obviously a career in Internet marketing requires an in depth understanding of business and general marketing concepts. While I did learn a lot of things through trial and error and good old fashioned experience, classroom learning on the subject provides a solid foundation and great background information for further progress. If you have no interest in programming, a business or marketing degree is probably the next best thing.
3. Engineering / Math
I don’t know about you, but I hate math (I break the Asian stereotype I know). Nevertheless, a math or engineering degree will help you to develop an analytical mind that is instrumental for constructing complex online systems – say for example building a little search engine called Google.
Blogs have really taken off over the past couple of years and quality content is what separates the successful sites from the failures. An ability to write creatively and quickly while clearly conveying messages is a tremendous asset to have online. A writing degree in college isn’t considered the most lucrative in terms of job prospects, but it’s definitely an important skill for independent webmasters.
Likewise, there is always a demand for good design online. If you’re the artsy type and want to take your work to the web, an art or design degree might not be a bad idea. If you need inspiration, David Airey is a logo designer who does very well for himself selling design services online.
Do what you love to do
Finally and above all, find something that you are passionate about and genuinely love to do. If you go the programming route only because it has the most potential, you may find yourself hating life and rethinking your career later on. Save yourself the trouble and agony and study something that you are actually interested in.
Ultimately, it’s not really about what you study in college that will set your paths online. If you have the drive and the motivation to learn Internet marketing on your own, no college degree will matter. The ones listed above are merely just some suggestions that will help you to develop the background and the skills that are useful for Internet marketers to have.
Internet marketers, what did you study in college or what are your planning on majoring in? Vote in the poll and leave a comment. I’d love to see the results.