According to a recent Gallup poll, students who pursue the most popular field in college in the U.S. are not too happy.
The study, published earlier this month, concluded that of the four major college areas of study, students who choose business show the least amount of interest in their own work.
A random selection of about 30,000 people who studied areas of social sciences/education, sciences/engineering, arts and humanities, or business were asked if they strongly agree with the statement, “I am deeply interested in the work that I do.”
For college graduates between the years 2000-2014, social sciences/education came out on top with 40 percent agreeing with the statement. Sciences/engineering comes next at 38 percent, followed by arts and humanities at 36 percent. Business graduates agreed only 34 percent of the time.
Isaac Doustar, a senior business and economics major, said interest in your own work is a key to success.
“I genuinely show 100 percent interest in my own work,” he said. “I believe if you don’t have 100 percent interest in what you’re doing it could be one cause of failure.”
Doustar is the chief operating officer of his father’s cosmetics company, Doucce, and is also working on a new makeup line. He said “the flexibility you acquire when you’re the boss is great.” But for those without the opportunities or drive to start their own business, Doustar said it is probably more the work being done than the attitude of the worker.
“Business graduates most likely show the least interest in their work because they tend to end up at a firm with a mid-level position which has them doing little work of importance to them,” he said. “The ones who do show interest in their work tend to end up towards the top as officers of a corporation.”
Even financially, business majors don’t find themselves with much of a lead. The same study also asked participants if they consider themselves financially thriving—little economic stress and increased financial security.
For graduates of 2000-2014, business came in second at 30 percent, leading social sciences/education and arts and humanities by five percent. Science/engineering graduates agreed 35 percent of the time.
Professor Mark Palermo, who teaches upper level MBA courses at Stony Brook and has over 20 years of business experience with companies like Chase and Gordon Brothers Capital, says the ambiguity of a MBA degree might be the cause of a lack of interest.
“A business degree is very general,” he said. “People who graduate with a degree in business can end up almost anywhere. Compare that to an engineer or computer scientist who moves to a lab after graduation where she continues to study the things that interested her to begin with.”
As for his interests, Palermo said a history of college tutoring and educating colleagues have his passion leaning more towards teaching.
“I thoroughly enjoy both,” he said. “Teaching is what I like to do the most, though I am well-suited to both. I have had a lot of fun and excitement in my business career and I love passing on some of that experience to the next generations.”
Ernestico D’Ambrose, a fast-track MBA student in his last year and the director of communications and public relations of the MBA Association, shares the same level of interest as Doustar, but with a twist.
“My interest is 100 percent in my field, but not in business,” he said. To D’Ambrose, the business field is more of a stepping-stone or a foundational layering.
“Business education is more of a tool to understand the housekeeping for an idea,” he said. “My work is in human services, whether as an EMT, a direct support professional, or a consultant.”
Though it may not be the most interesting or lucrative field, business will continue to draw students from around the world like it did for Professor Palermo.
“The world of business represents the social contracts that we make in order to produce and distribute the things we want from the raw materials and resources available to us,” Palermo said. “This was my first draw to business. Of course markets don’t always work, and understanding why and when they fail is sometimes even more interesting.”