“Majoring In” helps students find college programs in gaming, esports, beer and wine
Interview by Jim Teece
Gaming, esports, beer, wine. It may sound like a list of everything your parents didn’t want you to do in college, but times have changed. Today’s students can pursue rewarding and lucrative careers in these industries. To find out more, we asked Majoring In co-founders Chris Cook and Vicki Purslow, long-time Ashland residents.
Q: Gaming, esports, beer and wine may be favorite past times for college-aged students, but most people have never thought about them as viable career paths. Your websites give a different message. Why did you create the Majoring In suite of websites?
A: We created our first website, Majoring in Wine, because one day Chris did a Google search for one of her winery clients for “wine education programs” and the only thing that showed up were some ads and old magazine articles. We were shocked that there wasn’t a comprehensive listing of wine industry programs throughout the US and abroad.
To test our idea, we had some SOU (Southern Oregon University) business students conduct research with high school counselors across the country to find out what advice they gave students looking into the wine industry as a career choice. As you would expect, very few counselors had any idea where to send their students. We also had these SOU business students contact wineries across the country to see if their hiring managers knew where to find newly-minted viticulture, enology and hospitality graduates, and the response was the same—they weren’t sure where to look.
This confirmed our suspicion that there was a need for a trusted, comprehensive and objective location for people looking to expand their wine-related education. We decided to create one!
Over the next three months, we had students researching college and university wine programs, scholarships and related information while we worked with a website design company to build MajoringInWine.com, which launched in July 2020.
With more than 100 accredited wine programs listed, we also included resources for scholarships, jobs and internships. And we regularly post blogs related to career options.
The response was so positive, we added websites for other programs in need of the same—MajoringinBeer.com (launched November 2020) and MajoringinGaming.com (launched April 2021). More sites are in the works. Our focus is on niche and emerging industries that aren’t already well-documented.
Q: Well, that’s quite a process you worked through to research the need and gather the pertinent information! How are you promoting the sites?
A: Yes, we sometimes refer to it as our “Covid Project” but in reality, it will be an ongoing endeavor as we continue to build out and promote existing sites and develop additional sites along the same lines.
We are actively recruiting colleges and universities to increase their presence from a simple listing to a full page with photos, videos, information and a way for potential students to request more information directly on the Majoring In site. We also are actively communicating with school counselors, parents/families and students through conferences, social media and blogging. In fact, each Majoring In site has its own Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook site!
Q: What prompted your interest in wine education programs in the first place and how are you the perfect people to create such websites?
A: Chris has a deep background in marketing higher education institutions and specializes in marketing consulting for the wine industry through her company Capiche Wine Marketing & PR. She also worked with Master of Wine Tim Hanni on the development and production of an online, on-demand wine business program called Wine Business Education.
Vicki has been in higher ed her entire career, currently at SOU, as a professor and administrator. She also authored a book called “Cash for College,” and has presented numerous workshops to assist high school students and their families locate scholarship opportunities.
Q: What’s next for you, now that you have these three sites up and running?
A: We are talking with students and counselors to find out in-demand college programs that are out of the ordinary, niche and emerging. We will be expanding our suite of websites to serve those industries. If readers have ideas, we would love to hear from them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Jim!