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Degree Proves Versatile For Chicago Business Exec

It may be disheartening for business majors to find out that business and marketing degrees barely made it into the top 50 highest paying jobs, according to PayScale; and op/ed pieces like "8 Reasons Not to Get a Business Degree don't help the outlook." But for every glass that's half empty, there's always a real-life person to prove the theory wrong.

(Photo Courtesy of Tobin Costen)

US News looked on the upside about business management, reminding students that business degrees can be utilized for marketing, finance, statistics and economics. Even some well-known celebrities have business degrees, including Arnold Schwarzenneger, David Banner, Cate Blanchett, Kevin Costner, Lionel Richie and Ivanka Trump.

While some may wonder how working in the arts can connect to a business degree, one of the managers from for-profit textile recycling company USAgain has the answer.

"I started off in entertainment," said Tobin Costen, who works for one of the national branches for the West Chicago-based company. "I wound up meeting someone while I was in school: Percy Miller, who was just starting a record company."

Before Costen worked for elite record label owner Percy "Master P" Miller, under the popular rap label No Limit Records, he went to college. Costen earned an undergraduate degree in communications and marketing from Gonzaga University and an M.B.A. from Holy Names University.

After six years at No Limit Records, he worked in other service businesses before settling into his current position. Regardless of how different these industries are, he has one key motivator that helps him.

"I went to private, Catholic schools," Costen said. "I took four classes of philosophy, studying how people think and how decisions are made. That's very important in business."

Business writing and speech courses are also highly recommended by Costen, but he emphasizes networking and research more.

"Everything we do in our lives has to do with how we market ourselves," he said. "Do research on organizations that are successful in the marketplace, whether it's small, local businesses or global businesses. Find individuals who work for those companies, and pick their brains. Have a better understanding of how your skill set would fit in with an organization."

Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a professional journalist who has work featured in AXS, Yahoo!, Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune. She's been an Examiner since 2009 and currently writes about 10 categories on

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