Thursday, September 13, 2007

Employers, are you in the IQ business?

Hiring college graduates and looking for someone with brains? Hire an economics major.

From The American, a new business magazine:
Rich Karlgaard, the technology entrepreneur who is publisher of Forbes, tells the story of a trip he took with Microsoft’s Bill Gates in the early 1990s. On the flight, he asked Gates, “Who is your chief competitor?”

“Goldman Sachs” was Gates’s surprising reply.

Gates went on to explain that he was in the “IQ business.” Microsoft needed the best brains available to make top-shelf software. His primary rivals for the smartest kids in America were elite investment banks such as Goldman or Morgan Stanley.

“Microsoft must win the IQ war,” Gates said, “or we won’t have a future.”

If trends hold, then Microsoft’s future in the war for IQ looks bleak. The brightest students these days are headed into finance, but Microsoft is fighting back, targeting colleges with an innovative strategy. The answer may be a little robot.

First, what do the trends say? Recent enrollment figures are ominous. The number of smart kids studying computer science peaked a few years ago and has dropped dramatically since. The number of new computer science majors today has fallen by half since 2000, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Merrilea Mayo, director of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable at the National Academies, says the drop-off was particularly pronounced among women.

Meanwhile, elite schools are reporting that the number of economics majors is exploding. For the 2003–2004 academic year, the number of economics degrees granted by U.S. colleges and universities increased 40 percent from five years previously. Economics is seen by bright undergraduates as the path to a high-paying job on Wall Street or at a major corporation.
Read it all here. Emphasis added.

Want to prove to employers that you are intelligent? Pursue an economics degree.

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