The Programmer and The MBA
September 11, 2012
I’d like to write about higher education today. My BS is in Multidisciplinary Studies, a custom blend of classes that I found interesting enough to finish. I received it from RIT after failing out of one college for lack of motivation. In fact, I had earned a full ride at Fordham University, and had selfishly ignored my homework to spend quality time in the greatest city on Earth.
I’m lucky enough to have studied CS at Fordham, and while I was never officially enrolled in a computer class at RIT, the name is associated with technical excellence so my degree ended up being very impressive on paper. I don’t mean to say that I can’t program computers – I’m an extremely gifted engineer and I know Xcode as well as the next startup founder. However, my course of study included media and entrepreneurship classes, so I have a unique perspective on the Business School vs. Engineering School argument currently raging across this country.
As you might have guessed, I’m on the side of the engineers. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, so of course I have sympathy for other introverts, but that is not my reason for joining this argument right now. I’m blogging today because computer nerds know how to make software, they tend to get exploited by people who don’t, and it is ruining America for everyone. Our economy is completely dependent on computers at this point, and I am astonished that so many of our “leaders” still haven’t figured out how to use Microsoft Outlook.
The members of the Business School claim that they’re learning how to work with other people and building skills that are needed by large companies. I’m skeptical about this. A company won’t grow large enough for these skills to matter until it has built something profitable. An MBA assumes that large companies already exist and demand specialized management skills. It is only useful as long as those assumptions are true.
Unfortunately, another problem is not affected by economic conditions. Computers follow instructions, but humans do not. A student can’t really learn how to manage people by listening to another person. The student must discover those skills by herself. Don’t forget, especially if you’re training to be a manager in the Ivy League. Every empire ends.