When students apply to a specific academic pre-professional program like an undergraduate business school, they’re signaling that they're confident in their general path and are ready to commit to it. And admissions officers at business schools read applications with an eye to understanding where and how the student explored this interest.
Whether you think you might want to focus on business but aren’t quite sure how to test that idea, or you already know you’re interested but want to plan a path that demonstrates that interest, you’re going to want to spend time during high school in ways that build your business-related knowledge and skills base. Here are some ways you can think about doing both.
You may already be doing this, and if not, school clubs are a great place to start. Look for business-specific extracurriculars offered in your high school - things like DECA, FBLA, or Junior Achievement’s Company Program. If your school doesn’t offer any business-focused clubs, do not worry - you can still gain experience by taking on business-related roles in other clubs. Look for things involving money management (treasurer, fundraiser, etc.), marketing/business development (advertising, membership), or other business-adjacent roles or projects that you can get involved with.
As you think through your high school coursework, look for electives to help you explore and show your business interests. If your high school doesn’t offer elective business courses, consider taking them either for credit through a different school (maybe online, or at your local community college), or not for credit through a website like Coursera.org or edX.org.
Quick tip: Many courses offered on Coursera and EdX are free. Start by taking these courses and determine if business is your right path.
In addition to elective business courses, keep in mind that many college business programs require applicants to have taken math through Precalc, and the most selective programs may require or highly recommend math through Calculus. And business programs will be looking closely at all of your selections in math, and even STEM courses (including Computer Science) since business programs typically require strong quantitative skills. So plan your high school coursework carefully to show you’re meeting that bar.
Business Work Experience
Maybe you’re interested in money management, or maybe you think you’re ready for a career in marketing. But how do you know for sure? One way to get a deeper insight into your dream job/field is by applying for an internship at a relevant company or department. While it can be difficult to find formal internship programs for high schoolers, organizations like Crimson Careers can help you locate relevant positions, and I’ve had students find success by doing cold outreach to companies.
In 2022, Collegewise began offering Uber internship opportunities for students interested in gaining college-level work experience and explore their interest in business further. Students will learn practical skills and work closely with likeminded students and professionals in this 6-week long internship opportunity.
Pro tip: if you go the cold outreach route, you may have a better chance of reaching out to local companies, start-ups, or non-profits, who often are in need of help, so might be willing to take you on even if they don’t offer a formal program.
Don’t be afraid to ask people you know, too - you might be able to source an informal internship or shadowing opportunity by reaching out to family, friends, and contacts within your larger community.
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