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Richard Grubman '84, Investment banker

Art & Archaeology

Why I chose art and archaeology

I entered Princeton with the intention of majoring in chemistry. It was the subject I had enjoyed the most in high school, no doubt largely as the result of a couple of terrific teachers. But by my sophomore year I was hooked on art history, and I decided to major in it purely out of passion. My subsequent happiness and good fortune at Princeton seemed to validate that it was the right choice.

Shortly after graduation, I reported to my first job, one for which I had no relevant experience and yet for which I did not feel unprepared. I went to work on Wall Street with a host of other recent college graduates, the majority of whom had majored in one of the ''major majors.'' But none of us really knew what to do when we got there, not even the economics majors. No one had received a vocational education in investment banking, but we were all hardworking, intelligent, and articulate people willing to learn.

Like any first job, I alternatively loved and hated it, depending on what I was doing. Over time the love outweighed the hate as I crawled up from the bottom of the totem pole, and I learned to better navigate toward areas I enjoyed more. Today, 20 years later, I still work in financial services because I continue to like it and find it satisfying.

Value of academic choices

Early in my professional tenure it became clear to me that Princeton had prepared me well, regardless of what department I had chosen for my major. I had learned how to critically and analytically read, write, think, research, and communicate -- the building blocks for success in almost any pursuit. These skills are universal to the development of any craft, be it in commerce, the arts, or science, and they are taught in every department at Princeton. Each and every major can satisfy the vocational considerations that are on the minds of students and their families. Engrossing yourself in a major that engenders passion is more important to your educational and post-educational success than the choice of the major itself.

Art and archaeology captivated me, and I was inspired to work hard and reap the benefits of a Princeton education. It was a far better choice than the prospect of being less engaged or unhappy in another department that I might have thought was a more practical choice for my future. My advice to incoming freshmen is to take all the risks you can, as they are not risky at all. Do something you're passionate about. It will maximize your personal development and serve you well, no matter what career you choose.

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