Getting Down To Business
If you’re drawn to the corporate world of navy suits and Wall Street, you’re probably already considering a career in business. Still, it’s a broad term and there’s a lot to decide before committing to the major. In which field will you focus? Finance? Management? Marketing? Entrepreneurship? Accounting? What classes should you take? What can you expect to make when you graduate?
Perhaps the first task is to figure out what makes you tick.
How do I know what business major is right for me?
If you’re like many high schoolers, you may not know what you want to be, but you already know what you like to do. If you’d classify yourself as a strong leader – good at motivating others – you might consider a focus on management.
If you enjoy a challenge, think of yourself as persuasive, and are highly motivated, marketing might be a good place to focus.
Into computers? Love math and working with numbers? Accounting and finance have your name all over them.
Want to own your own business one day? Then entrepreneurship might be right up your alley.
What classes will I need?
You probably won’t have to worry about this too much until you’re a junior in college. Your first two years will mostly consist of general courses, like calculus, computers, sociology or psychology, science, writing and English, as well as some business courses that all business majors have to take.
By your third year, your business education will become more focused, including a set of core courses in marketing, management, finance, organizational behavior and problem solving. The second half of your junior year and all of your senior year will focus on your specific major under the broader category of business.
What jobs can I get when I graduate?
The beauty of majoring in business is that it prepares you to work in a wide variety of jobs – from private corporations and international companies to government and nonprofits. Even better, most students who graduate with a degree in business can find jobs quickly. Depending on your focus, you could start out as a market researcher, financial analyst, entry-level manager, public relations rep, or systems analyst – just to name a few. (And yes, some lucky students get the really big bucks on Wall Street—but, don’t count on that. It’s very competitive for those jobs.)
What can I do to increase my chances of getting a job when I graduate?
There are three main factors employers look at when evaluating job candidates. The first two are grades and extracurricular activities. Of course, you’re no doubt familiar with the importance of both of these in applying to colleges. So, you need to keep up the good grades and get involved in activities in college, such as leadership positions in organizations, internships, sports, community activities, etc.
The third factor is one that colleges don’t really evaluate but employers do. It’s something you probably can’t do much about: your personality. Corporations have different “corporate cultures,” and both you and the company need to be sure that you’ll fit into that culture. While you won’t have to worry about this until you start interviewing as a junior or senior, you might want to think about what kind of industries best fit your personality. For example, an accounting firm is probably more conservative than a software company. This can help you figure out what major might be best suited for you.
What can I expect to make when I graduate?
Depending on where you live, you can probably expect the following starting salaries:
Accounting–$40,000 – $47,500
Business Administration–$32,500 – $46,000
Management Information Systems–$38,700 – $49,400
Marketing/Marketing Management–$31,200 – $42,000
According to James H. Thompson, Professor of Accounting at Oklahoma City University, accounting has always been a premier choice of major by business students because of its high demand and high salaries. “Our [students] are primarily choosing a five-year program that is designed to satisfy the 150-hour education requirement and [permit] immediate entry into public accounting and related fields. Graduates often receive multiple job offers from national accounting firms and large public enterprises at salary levels higher than other business disciplines.”
If you’re interested in accounting, keep in mind that, according to Dr. Randall Rentfro, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship, companies are staffing more efficiently and expecting accounting professionals to be more flexible and technologically savvy and help develop methods to grow the business and increase profit margins.
Marketing, finance and management majors also are faring well. “There is definitely a change in the job market,” says Steve Barnett, Ph.D. of Stetson University’s School of Business. “Our marketing majors are getting better jobs and the starting pay has increased substantially. We are seeing similar trends in accounting, finance and management. All organizations have a business dimension and thus advancement into leadership positions in all organizations requires that its managers have knowledge and comprehension of basic business concepts and principles.”
Whatever route you choose, you’ll want to look beyond the opportunity to just land a job when you graduate. Test the waters with a variety of classes when you first get to college and then start narrowing down the field as you discover courses you love. Finding a career you enjoy will make going to work something to look forward to!