For students thinking about going into a career in business, there are often more options than they realize. So take a minute to think about a large corporate business, you know. What are the areas of work within that business? Or think about a small business owner. What are the various tasks and skills a small business owner needs to make sure the business thrives? What interests you? What skills do you currently have, and what skills would you need to gain to enter one of these areas? As you read the types of areas in business below, think about what's most and least appealing to you.
12 Business Careers to Consider
Let's think about Skechers, the shoe company for a large corporate entity. If you were to look at their staff directory, you would find people in the following departments:
Administration and Management
They are often the company leaders thinking about strategy and policy. They are often tasked with making bigger decisions and are usually held responsible for the company's successes and failures.
Consultants often do not work within the corporation. They are hired for short- and long-term projects to support the company's growth. Consultants often have a top-line overview of a sector (like health care, non-profits, education, hospitality, and technology) and make recommendations based on an analysis of the company.
Data Analytics and Data Science
These two areas have some overlap but are fairly different in many ways. Analytics has been around for many years and refers to identifying trends in data to make more strategic decisions. In other words, it's about analyzing data (think Excel, statistics, graphs, etc.). Data Science is a newer phrase for an interdisciplinary study that creates algorithms, predictive models, and data structures to drive an organization forward (think about social media here and how you are given content that you might be interested in, for example).
Given our digital world, businesses have had to change their thinking about what and how to sell online and what new markets might be viable with online sales. A deeper understanding of technology is needed here.
These college programs seem to be growing the most rapidly right now. Students who focus on entrepreneurship often start their own businesses or support businesses to grow with new ideas.
Finance and Accounting
While accounting is partly about keeping track of all the income and expenses within a company, it's also about analyzing and forecasting sales and expenditures, so the company is profitable. This is often the most math-intensive area within business.
These are the ones who hire, train, and lay off staff. They also think about salaries and promotions while solving some of the internal conflicts in a work environment. They think carefully about benefits and make sure policies are followed. Human Resources (HR) professionals are good communicators who enjoy meeting lots of people while understanding the various roles and skills needed. They often set the culture of the company.
Every business must think about contracts and potential lawsuits. Lawyers who understand business are key to many companies.
These staff members have to think about: what is the company's message? What will help sell the product? Where will the company advertise? Who is the target market for this product or service? Although marketing is multifaceted, marketing is all about connecting the company to potential clients and requires some creativity.
The staff here must continually think about how to build and modify the products for customer demands. What will sell? Is it a feasible design? Is it cost-effective to make? These are questions Product Designers ask themselves.
This might be your area if you like talking and persuading others. At a large corporation, salespeople often sell to businesses or consumers and find new markets that want the products their company offers.
Supply Chain Management
This department is all about using infrastructures to carry the right amount of product to the places of sale. Over the last few years, with the pandemic, consumers have seen the positives and negatives of supply chains. Think about if you want to be responsible for the baby formula shortage or Amazon's successes, and then decide if this is the right area for you.
As you think about these different parts of the business world, ask yourself some questions, such as:
- What do you gravitate towards?
- What skills do you have, and what do too develop so you can succeed within one of these areas?
- How can you further explore business and determine the day-to-day responsibilities for a particular area?
- Are there any areas of business that you do not want to participate in and why?
To find out even more about careers in business and what path you can take, see this resource here.
Business Majors: What to Study?
Once you understand the different paths within business, you can think more about what you might study to get there. Look carefully at each business program a college offers. Many have general business administration, human resources, accounting, finance, and entrepreneurship.
A few other options include:
Business and economics have some overlap in the types of material covered and the skills needed, but they are also quite different. Econ is often more theory-based, more quantitative in nature, and much broader in scope. It's important to look carefully at a course catalog to see what classes are required in an economics program. Many start with macro- and micro-economics, as required introductory classes. Econometrics, the study of how statistics works with economic models, is often a defining class in most econ majors. Ultimately, economics is about how financial systems work.
Engineering and Computer Science
There is often some overlap in the types of skills and courses required, especially with regard to math, between these areas and business. Given our current technology, many believe that students should have some exposure to computer science in particular. Degrees in these areas are often complemented nicely with a few business courses and experience and can launch a career in business.
A Non-Business Major
This is often shocking to students, but many people in business do not have business degrees. For instance, many marketers have degrees in English, Psychology, Communications, or other related fields. Past experience and talking about the skills you possess often go far in getting a job in the business world. Many schools, especially the liberal arts and science colleges, do not have business programs but have many companies recruit on campus and alumni in various business professions.
Many students will do a minor in business to improve a few key skills. Minors in law, a STEM field, or computer science are often helpful too. Again, it's about what skills and knowledge you have, rather than the actual name of the major or minor.
Many college graduates will start working and then go on to get another degree like an M.B.A or C.P.A to support them in the work they do.
BigFuture is a great resource for students that would like to receive more information on the majors we've listed and additional degrees to explore.
As you consider what you want to study and what you want from your career, please do your research! Life rarely runs in a linear path, and as this blog highlights, there is no magic formula to starting a career in business.
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