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What is an international business major?

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What is international business?
What kinds of courses does an international business major take?
How would I know if international business might be a good major for me?

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Victoria’s Answer


Hi Alexandra,

This is such a wonderful question and what a fabulous career with so many possibilities – I highly recommend this career. We live in a very global and connected world. Each one of us participates in international business every day without even realizing it. Here is a challenge: start looking at all the products and services you use every day and you will start to see how important international trade is to our lives. International business is also a very important contributor to the arts, sciences, and non-profit world, either through transferable skills or philanthropy (giving back to our communities). The Internet and massive networks have contributed to the expansion of international business and connectivity to every part of the world. This connectivity will only increase. In fact, in the not too distant future, you might work or live off world on another planet.

What is International Business:

International Business is the study of international markets and international transactions. This includes goods, services, technology, and knowledge (see wiki link below). International Business requires you to look at many different types of risk: operational, political, technological, environmental, economic, financial, etc. So imagine the difference between taking a trip in your home country versus taking an international trip. When you travel at home, there are basically one set of rules that you follow. When you take an international trip you need a passport, possibly different money, an airplane, and the ability to communicate in another language. See how the level of complexity changed? The benefits of international travel are amazing: you meet new people, learn new customs, experience new cultures, and exchange new ideas. We can literally make the world better by cooperating on joint projects because we all have different points of views and talents.

1)     The good news is that in a global economy you can either go to school that specializes in international business (see rankings below); OR

2)     You can basically create your own international business program by going to a traditional business school and adding internships, work study, travel, volunteer work, etc.  You can even start at a junior college to get your basics, then go to a 4 year college, and add internships, travel, and scholarships/exchange programs

What Kinds of Courses Does An International Business Major Take:

1.      Initially having a really good foundation in one or more of these business areas below is a great beginning to a career in international business: Accounting, Corporate Governance, Corporate Law, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Organization, Trade, Management Information Systems, etc. Once you have a good foundation you will specialize to gain more experience in internationally specific content. So you might take global finance or international markets or international economics.

2.      Also, there are other majors that leverage similar international business skills such as: Public Affairs, Diplomacy, International Arts (Opera, Film, Performance) as well as International Business focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

3.      Knowing a language or several languages is very useful. Leverage what you already know. There are many bilingual positions in the business world because this makes communications easier, faster, and better.

4.      Many US companies and US non-profits have international operations. Work or volunteer for one of these groups and try to help them with a project onsite or virtually using web tools.

How Do You Know If A Career In International Business Is Right For You?

§ Do you like to travel and can you imagine yourself in this career?

§ What kinds of international settings sound the most interesting to you (Company, non-profit, arts group)?

§ Do you like learning about other cultures and customs? Do you like to try new things?

§ How do you respond under pressure? Are you able to figure out solutions to complex problems or issues?

§ Do you learn languages easily or are you willing to stick with a language to get the basics?

§ Do you like business, STEM, or any of the subjects mentioned above?

§ Do you like working with people with different points of views and different backgrounds on projects?

§ Do you like to be challenged by new opportunities every day?

If you answered most of these questions, yes, definitely check out this career :)!

Victoria recommends the following next steps:

  • Some interesting links about international business and connecting globally: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_business https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-international https://www.mastersportal.com/articles/580/what-can-i-become-with-a-masters-in-international-business.html https://www.verizon.com/about/news/bryn-mooser-and-emmy-nominated-ryot
  • Figure out what skills, talents, interests you have (a language, a specialty, a degree plan)
  • Research international companies/non-profits that match your interests. There are many ways to do this so look at all the possibilities.
  • Focus on getting a good business background as a foundation and build on this base.