Dan Jackson is a self-described debater. There’s not much he likes more than sitting down with a friend, rolling up his sleeves, and slinging words about a controversial topic. The art of persuasion is what makes those amateur debate sessions interesting.
“We’ll bicker about whatever we can,” Jackson says with a laugh. “Politics or something connected to what we’re reading or listening to.”
During his sophomore year at the University, Jackson realized that his debating expertise could potentially feed into the major he’d declare. Having come to the U of M with the intention of pursuing a pre-law track, he’d soon concluded that it didn’t suit his strengths. Business and marketing, on the other hand, were singing a siren song into his ear. And the music seemed to be coming out of the Carlson School of Management.
“I came to terms with the fact that I didn’t want to be on a track. I wanted to pick my own classes, not have them prescribed to me. I saw that through ICP, everything is up to you. You get to justify the classes you want to take.”
Seeking access to Carlson’s marketing coursework, Jackson decided to pursue a major through the Inter-College Program (ICP), which caters to students wanting to design individualized degrees. ICP would allow Jackson to combine his interests while unlocking doors to marketing coursework he couldn’t access otherwise.
“I found myself looking around for ins to what I perceived as ‘the business world,’” Jackson says. “I figured it would be a good fit for me. My overarching goal was to create a degree that combined words, ideas, and persuasion. For me, marketing was the glue that bound those things together.”
Jackson worked with his adviser to wrap his mind around the ICP individualized degree, then set forth writing his proposal for what he wanted to accomplish. That proposal translated to a slew of courses from the marketing department at Carlson, with subjects ranging from brand management to marketing strategy.
Jackson’s ICP degree includes two concentrations: marketing and communication studies. Together, these concentrations are allowing Jackson to stack the building blocks for a career in the marketing industry. And that pursuit will likely put to use Jackson’s diverse coursework, and maybe even the skills he garnered through bickering with his buddies.
When asked about his choice to take the ICP route to reach his academic goals, Jackson says, “I came to terms with the fact that I didn’t want to be on a track. I wanted to pick my own classes, not have them prescribed to me. I saw that through ICP, everything is up to you. You get to justify the classes you want to take.”
Beyond that, Jackson appreciated that ICP forced him to be intentional about his education. “Asking yourself ‘why’ at every step in the process was essential,” he says.
Poised to graduate this spring, Jackson is ready to jump into the industry he’s been studying for the past few years. The path he’ll carve in the world of business, marketing, and communications will be his own. Just like his individualized degree.