Here's my situation:

I'm almost 26 y.o.

Nationality: Russian, currently living in Toronto.

I have just finished my undergrad degree in Computer Science and was thinking of maybe getting a job in IT and staying in the country for a while.

I also have a degree in Econ/Marketing from a reputable university in Moscow. Normally, Russian 5-year degrees evaluate to Master's in Europe. I am not so sure about Canada, but I could still put it on my resume, I guess, and explain the situation, if asked. The question is, should I? The whole thing was a terrible mistake I made at the age of 17. You can't easily change majors or take courses from unrelated fields in Russia, so, if 2 or 3 years in you realize you don't like what you have been studying, well, tough luck. You can either quit and receive nothing or plod on. Guess, which way I chose. Naturally, after getting it, I went overseas to study something I was really interested in. At least, I received a lot of transfer credits for my CS degree. The only work experience I have in marketing is a 6-month internship, which was almost useless in terms of acquiring practical skills in the field.

tl;dr Will a degree in an unrelated profession confuse the recruiter? I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want a job in Business. I really do not want to tell the above story on an interview. People tell me I'm wrong and education is always an asset.

What do you think?

  • There have to be companies that would love to have a programmer who understands economics and marketing. – user8365 Sep 18 '14 at 14:03

If I see an entry-level CV which looks something like this:

  • Age 17: left school
  • [mysterious gap]
  • Age 22: started undergraduate degree
  • Age 25: applying for first job

One of the first questions I'm going to be asking is "what did you do for those five years?" Note that "I did a degree in [unrelated subject], but I realised that it wasn't what I wanted to do" is a perfectly acceptable answer, but you're almost certainly going to be asked this question whether you want to talk about it or not. I'd just put it on your CV; even if you're not interested in doing it as a career, having a software engineer who at least understands that marketing is important is better than a lot of people.

  • +1 for knowing marketing and business flow can sometimes relieve explaining to you about the things you need to build for other people. Sometimes that is a big plus if field of work is related with much financial tools building. – Cardiner Sep 18 '14 at 9:33

Spending five years and getting a Master's in Economics is nothing to be ashamed of. At least, you did something with those five years and you got a degree from it. It beats the hell out of getting nothing, and it sure beats having been in prison for the last five years.

Your education was a mistake, if you choose to perceive it as a mistake. Did your English get better as a result of those five years? Did you learn how to communicate more effectively both orally and in writing? Can you apply your education to work on Big Data problems? Right now, our American universities are graduating a bunch of students who can do the mechanics of Big Data analysis but who are anything but problem domain experts, with predictable results when they work without problem domain experts. Your degree in Economics should make you knowledgeable in something.

I suggest that, instead of making a snap judgment about your education being useless, that you do some research and work out how your education can help you achieve your objectives including, I presume, going into software engineering work. And who knows? You might emigrate and bump into some who graduated from your university and who might be willing to help you, because you both graduated from the same university. Speaking of emigration:

Canada, by the way, is not in the habit of accepting unskilled and uneducated people for the purpose of immigration, so if you didn't have your degree in Econ, forget about going there.

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