Let’s get down to business

The Easy Way Out

The treacherous journey through Sproul Plaza is one that few ever become fully equipped to handle. But with my sourest face possible and noise-cancelling headphones, I almost feel prepared for the onslaught. I survey the landscape, making quick note of the presence and position of the flyerers. They are everywhere. Prospects of making it to the other side unscathed look bleak, but a potentially safe path materializes. I cut for the gap. Head down, phone out, I plummet forth into oblivion.

It’s all going so well. Nothing stands between me and the freedom of the other side of Sather Gate. Suddenly, an aggressive student materializes out of thin air and thrusts his pamphlet-filled hand in my direction. “Are you interested in business?” he intones as he desperately tries to unload upon me his pamphlets and, let’s face it, his problems. By the end of the trip through Sproul Plaza, I have amassed four different business fraternity pamphlets.  Defeated and disheartened, I throw them all away, not even bothering to recycle.

Though we try to avoid these hapless flyerers, their tireless efforts to convert the entire UC Berkeley undergraduate student body into Haas applicants is nothing short of valiant, and they should be commended for their work.

For an entire semester, this column will heroically discover and share the easy ways to get through life. Read closely. Care deeply. Live better.

Let’s begin with business school and why it will make your life easier.

Centers of higher education such as our own are exciting and diverse petri dishes of knowledge. At UC Berkeley, there are students and professors knowledgeable in academic disciplines ranging from nuclear chemistry to Celtic studies. These people come together to tap into and contribute to the vast body that is human knowledge. Haas students come together to tap into and contribute to the pursuit of money.

After two years in Haas, business graduates are equipped for high-paying and thrilling jobs in management and accounting. Although there are Haas students who plan to use their business degrees to start nonprofits or do other good deeds, there are better — more difficult — ways to get there.

The practical skills attained as a business major are taught in classes such as UGBA 105: Leading People. This is a class in which students study the social theory behind leadership “from a behavioral science point of view,” according to the course catalog. Essentially, having completed the course, students will know the necessary requirements of leadership. That’s great! UGBA 105 should be a prerequisite to run for president! If only Herbert Hoover could have taken it.

The undergraduate Haas School of Business also requires UGBA 100: Business Communication. I don’t quite know what differentiates business communication from regular communication, but I presume that businessmen and businesswomen communicate similarly to how we regular people communicate, namely through words, both written and spoken. This class is perhaps the best argument in favor of being a business major. Apparently, nonbusiness majors are expected to learn how to communicate effectively without taking a class designed to teach it. Is that possible? Can it be done? Unclear.

Committing to study a real academic subject is difficult. It involves finding a passion or deep interest and pursuing it to the best of one’s ability. This means hard work and dedication that might not immediately result in monetary rewards. Sounds hard.

Instead of seeking to understand or explain some important curiosity about the way the world works and pursuing that desire, all while feeling insecure about subsequent career options, simply commit yourself to the noble pursuit of making money. Though not particularly easy to get into, the undergraduate program in the Haas School of Business rids students of the responsibility and time required to really understand themselves and their own intellectual curiosities. For that reason, it’s the easy way out. I suggest you take it before some ridiculous hippie convinces you of anything else.

Karim Doumar writes the Wednesday blog on finding shortcuts through life. You can contact him at [email protected].

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