Branching Out Beyond Art History & East Asian Studies

by Irene Tieh

Before I arrived at Penn in the Fall of 1994, I had to decide on whether I would enroll into Wharton or the College.  At that time, I did not have any proof that I knew Chinese (Chinese language classes were rare back then) and had to forego the dual degree Wharton/College program.  Everyone I knew told me that the obvious decision would be Wharton but I really wanted the opportunity to find out more about myself at college.  Born in Taiwan but raised in Texas, I really wanted to have a better understanding of both eastern and western cultures which was why I decided to major in both Art History and East Asian Studies.

I learned from Professor Nancy Steinhardt that I could submatriculate at the same time and earn a Masters degree by the time I completed my Bachelors.  The Fine Arts library granted me my own shelf space since I accumulated such an enormous amount of books for completing both degrees.  The ability to read, write, filter and discern vast amounts of information really helped me throughout my career.  Most importantly, studying both eastern and western cultures through art and history enabled me to pursue a global marketing career.  Each marketing position I took on for either the art, beauty or education industry required me to wear several hats.

Since I double majored and submatriculated at Penn, the extensive demands of those job positions did not overwhelm me.  I became more efficient at managing and prioritizing my workload.  I also felt more prepared to conduct competitive market research and as well as present findings in a boardroom since I did so much research, writing and presentations at Penn.  Furthermore, I had the cross-cultural communication skills that enabled me to work with several different countries and markets at the same time.

Now that I have spent several years marketing products and brands, I am applying my learnings and best practices to help individuals figure out how they can continue to flourish at college or in their career.  What matters is not what you majored in during college but what you do with the skill-sets you acquired along the way.  Keep learning, nurturing and applying your skills sets!

*Irene Tieh will be contributing to @PennCareerDay on Twitter during our International Careers week (October 17th-21st) to discuss her studies and career in China.  Check back next week for Irene’s full bio!