They say that if someone is right-brained, he or she is more of a creative thinker. If someone is left-brained, he or she is more logical when reasoning. But some students tackle problems with both sides of the brain and start their journey to an artistic career on a less artistic pathway.
Though most might assume students in the Ross School of Business or College of Engineering would end up in math-heavy, structural careers, there are many students who would like to engage in something a bit more creative with their degrees.
Senior Kathryn Pamula is working on her BBA from Ross as well as a BA in Performance Arts Management from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She hopes to one day be a company manager for a Broadway show.
“I came into the University kind of knowing that this is what I wanted to do,” Pamula said. “I was poking around online and I saw there was a career for people who want to do theater but want to do management stuff.”
This is not an uncommon career path at the University. With prestigious schools such as Ross, the School of MT&D and the College of Engineering, it’s no coincidence students who have such aspirations would come here and blend the schools. However, there are also those who simply stumble into this mix of programs.
“I can’t picture myself sitting at a desk and managing a corporate budget — being one of a million,” said dual enrolled Ross School of Business and LSA junior Alex Schrader. “So I decided one day that I’m going to try something completely different. I was getting bored of my classes.”
After a trip to the theater with her mother, Schrader decided to sign up for MUSKET — and that was the start of her interest in theater arts.
Some students go the other way around, like engineering and MT&D student Charlotte Campbell, who started out in a creative setting but then didn’t feel challenged enough and transitioned to the technical side of theater.
“I get a lot of funny looks when I tell people my double major,” Campbell said. “They’re like, ‘Wait, how does that work?’ When I say sound engineering, they sort of get it.”
It makes sense that most people wouldn’t initially think creative careers need matter-of-fact thinkers to propel the industry. But after all, show business is a business — there is a need for a Wall Street brain on Broadway Avenue. The University provides an outlet for that.
“I think that there are a lot of opportunities within the management field,” Pamula said. “That’s one of the things I’ve learned from being here. There are a thousand different things you can go into. You can go into marketing, you can go into company managing, general managing or producing.”
Though there isn’t much crossover between schools, these students make the most of what they have. By taking marketing, strategy, logic design and other out-of-the-box classes, students with creative business aspirations are able to overlap their schedules to learn skills for both degrees.
“You do have to wear hats. I have to go to the business school and put my business hat on,” Pamula said. “The theater stuff is definitely a creative outlet. There have been some classes in Ross where it’s good to have a little creativity — but I’m not going to write a play about my finance classes.”
Campbell explained how her theater skills helped her excel in her engineering classes — not because of the content she was learning, but through the people skills she learned from it.
“It’s the study of people, bringing other people to life through stories,” she said of theater. “I like to think that I can bring a lot of that teamwork into engineering.”
Other ventures prepare these students for their real-world careers, too — not just classroom time. Both Schrader and Pamula landed internships in the theater, though they have business backgrounds. University clubs like MUSKET and Basement Arts also prepare them for real world experiences.
“I think it’s a learning process,” Schrader said. “Not everything in the theater you learn in the classroom, you just have to do it. I learned a ton from MUSKET last year that I never thought I would learn.”
Making it in show business, or any creative career, is difficult. Fortunately, these students have the advantage of a business or engineering degree that they can fall back on in case the artsy maneuver falls through.
“I have an option for myself,” Campbell said. “There’s a whole myriad of opportunities.”