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Anthropological Entrepreneurship?

Anthropological Entrepreneurship?

USC College students choose unconventional career paths

By Kaitlin Solimine
July 2004

With the help of advising offices on campus, USC College students are becoming more creative in the ways in which they translate study into career. Take two current USC College students for example.

Jade Werner, an English major, is pursuing a career in non-profit management or theatre production. Teresa Wang, an anthropology major, wants to attend business school.

While on seemingly different career paths, Werner and Wang do have one thing in common: they are utilizing the same resources to navigate their way:  the USC College Career Planning and Placement Center and the College Advisement Office.

In place to guide students throughout their academic and post-academic experiences, the two offices offer a variety of advisement services, including career and graduate school counseling, workshops, internships, job listings, career fairs and resume days.

Peter Stokes, a student services advisor in the College who primarily advises students on graduate and professional school choices, has advised both Werner and Wang. He helps students who are looking to extend their education into masters or Ph.D. programs, assisting them on everything from exploration of possible programs to the requesting of letters of recommendation.

Through his work, Stokes has found that College students aren’t always pursuing traditional career paths. “USC College students, because they have been exposed to a variety of liberal arts subjects, are very well-rounded,” says Stokes. “A liberal arts education inspires intellectual curiosity and College students are quite imaginative in their academic and career choices. We’re here to help guide them through this process and feed their creative juices.”

Wang, a 40-year-old undergraduate student, knows all about imaginative choices. After working for more than 17 years in the technology sector, she returned to USC College to study anthropology and hopes to someday start her own management consulting firm. “It doesn’t make sense to most,” she says. “But, anthropology is directly related to management consulting as well as many other business-related endeavors. The sorts of behavioral and cultural observations that anthropologists make are essential in this line of business.”

Werner, nearly 20 years Wang’s junior, has a slightly different approach when it comes to melding (or not) study and career. “My approach to school right now is that English is what I like to study and theatre is what I like to do,” she says. “They don’t have to be one and the same.”

With the encouragement of the advising office and the career planning and placement center, both students believe that doing and studying what one loves will likely lead to a successful career.

“I still have no firm conception of exactly what my career goals are,” says Werner. “I have a loose idea of what I like to do and I believe that following what I love doing — and getting some guidance and advice along the way — will eventually turn into a career if I just try hard enough.”