Running Your Own Business…as a Humanities Major?

PomonisThe gap between graduating and starting a business may seem vast.  On Wednesday, Tony Pomonis, an alumnus of the University of Illinois Department of English, and former owner of Merry-Ann’s diners will talk to students about strategies for bridging it.  Come hear what he has to say Wednesday, November 11, from 5 to 6pm in EB 119.  You may have heard some of his story at our Fall 2015 Department of English Alumni Career Panel.

The connection between studying fields like English and succeeding in business is real.

[W]hat good is a degree in the humanities in the real world of products and customers?…Far more than most people think. It all comes down to this: Is it helpful to know your customers? Deeply understanding their world, seeing what they see and understanding why they do the things they do, is not an easy task. Some people have otherworldly intuitions. But for most of us, getting under the skin of the people we are trying to serve takes hard analytical work.

….Studying a moving target like this requires a completely different approach than the one needed to study nature. If you want to understand the kinds of beings we are, you need to use your own humanity and your own experience.

Such an approach can be found in the humanities.”

Along with the logic of the position is the sheer range of notable business people who built their success on a solid foundation of study in English, history, philosophy and the like: innovators like Christina Brodbeck, the former U of I history major who helped found YouTube, developers like Matt Garrison, former U of I English major who founded the R^2 real estate company,  manufacturers like George Vlagos, former U of I English major who started Oak Street Bootmakers.


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