The Daily Beast
recently published a photo gallery detailing the 13 most useless majors
. On the list? Philosophy, commercial art and graphic design, history, and journalism, among others.
I just so happen to be a journalism graduate—and a proud one at that. I graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia
(Go Tigers!) with a magazine journalism degree in 2004. And although I can’t speak to any of the other majors on the list, I adamantly disagree that journalism is useless.
Why a journalism degree still matters
The publishing industry has experienced what can only be described as an upheaval. From the explosion of online media sources to the steady disappearance of classified ads, there’s no denying that print media is nowhere near what it once was—and will continue to diminish as more users opt for digital, mobile content sources.
I’ve witnessed the change firsthand. I’ve built my career in Kansas City, having worked for the Kansas City Star
and later as a regional magazine editor—a job from which I was laid off as a result of declining revenue. I tried valiantly to make a go of it as a freelance writer and author, and although the work was (somewhat) steady, there wasn’t enough of it.
Enter Shelly Kramer
, founder of V3 Integrated Marketing
. A few blogging assignments quickly turned into project management and other digital marketing-related duties, and voilà
—just a few months later, I accepted Shelly’s offer to become V3’s chief content officer.
Although I now reside fully in the digital marketing realm (except for some occasional freelance work), not for one second do I regret my pursuit of a journalism degree. Skills such as writing, researching, and interviewing have been invaluable assets as I create a variety of content for clients
I rely on other journalism-related benefits, too, such as knowing AP style and having (and maintaining) a voracious appetite for knowledge and information. I think anyone who works in creating digital content could benefit from taking a few fundamental journalism classes, if not going all out and pursuing a journalism degree
. The industry is changing, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t change with it.
Pursue a useless major
If you’re disheartened because your major of choice happened to fall on The Daily Beast
list, cheer up! I passionately believe that you should study (and learn) what you really love instead of letting a few statistics make life-changing decisions for you.
Because here’s the thing: No career is guaranteed. Following the path to your dream job won’t be easy. You’ll probably encounter unexpected obstacles and consider opportunities you wouldn’t have dreamed of just a few years (heck, even months) ago.
Trust me—I’m living proof.
I’m not ashamed to say that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and MySpace weren’t around when I was in college. I’ve had to learn a whole lot about the social space and digital marketing since I started working for V3. But the foundation of skills and knowledge established by my journalism degree are assets that I couldn’t have otherwise developed—and that’s why I advocate the pursuit of schooling that you think will best prepare you for what you want to do. I may not have predicted that I’d wind up in digital marketing, but I did know one thing: I had to write. And that’s what I do—every single day.
One more piece of advice? Embrace change. If you had told me just two years ago what I would be doing now, I would have laughed in your face. By taking a risk, following my instinct and trusting a support network comprising my boss, husband, family, and friends, here I am—busier, more fulfilled, and happier than I imagined I could be.
That’s exactly what I want for you, too—and why I think the Daily Beast list is a load of crap. Whether you dream of pursuing architecture, music, or political science, that’s your prerogative—and it’s up to you to make it happen. Doesn’t seem so useless now, does it?
Katy Ryan Schamberger is chief content officer at V3 Integrated Marketing in Kansas City. She is a former newspaper writer and magazine editor.