4 answers

Can I succeed in business? How can I pick a career that properly suits my interests?

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Hello, I'm currently a second-year college student, and I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my future. I'm currently majoring in English, but I've been debating whether to add business as a second major due to my interest in what I perceive as business-related fields. The only problem is that I'm not confident in my math skills, so I'm wondering how "good" your math skills need to be in order to earn a business degree? I really enjoyed statistics in high school, and I have both statistics and macroeconomics credit already transferred over from high school, but I saw that I would still need to take another math class (precalculus at the lowest level) and microeconomics in order to major in business, and I'm worried that I won't do well in these classes since it's been over a year since the last time I took a formal math class. Anyway, the reason I'm considering adding business as a major is because I have been working a lot of administrative assistant and/or office jobs, and I've found that I actually seem to enjoy doing customer service-oriented office jobs. I especially liked a recent job I had where I got to advise incoming college students on how to adjust to college life and other tips like that. What kind of career could you have where you specifically use your "expertise" or higher knowledge to enlighten/advise less-knowledgeable individuals? Is being a "career coach" one of the only options? I find it really difficult to imagine myself working as a career coach when I don't even know what I want to do with my own career... #business #english #job #career #publishing #work #career-counseling #career-advice #advice #education #major #college-major #choosing-a-major #help #career-planning #career-path #student #student-advice #business-field #english-major #english-degree #business-degree #business-major #career-help #job-experience #work-experience #career-coach

4 answers

Hannah’s Answer


Hi Catherine!

While I can't comment on the part of your question about the math skill level required to study Business, I'm really interested in the second part of your question about finding a job related to using your expertise to help others.

I think there are two ways in which you can do this:

  • Train in a field which focuses on education or coaching (teaching, life/career coach, etc.)
  • Establish which topics you are most interested in and eventually, through experience and quality of work, you will automatically fall into a role in which you will find yourself advising others

With regard to my second point above, any field of work needs mentors in that particular field, but to become a mentor of any sort you will need time in the role to be able to pass on that experience to others.

As to your point about finding it hard to imagine being a career coach when you're not even sure what you want to do with your own career, bear in mind that being a coach is not about having answers for people. Coaching other people is about helping them find their own answers to their own questions.

Seeing as you are quite open-ended about your interests right now, I would really recommend thinking deeply about the jobs you have enjoyed so far and identifying why you liked them. E.g. Do you like customer service related tasks because of the interaction with the customer? Did you enjoy advising incoming college students because you take pleasure is helping people who are in new environments? There are a million answers to the 'why' question but only you can identify the answers. Being able to identify the driving factors behind the enjoyment you felt doing certain tasks will help you analyse many careers to see if they include those factors, and should help you pick something suitable to you.

Hannah recommends the following next steps:

  • Identify why certain areas of the jobs you have enjoyed so far appealed to you
Hi Hannah, thank you so much for your answer! It is very insightful and gives me a lot to think about. I especially like what you wrote about "bear in mind that being a coach is not about having answers for people. Coaching other people is about helping them find their own answers to their own questions." You're absolutely right! Since I wrote my question, I have pondered upon what it is exactly that I liked about my job, and it was definitely the interpersonal interaction combined with guiding individuals in a new environment. I'm contemplating going into higher education as an academic advisor or something of the sort.

Kathryn’s Answer


Hi Catherine,  I had a hard time deciding on my future career as well.  I had several majors in college, but since I was paying for the tuition it didn't bother me and I learned a lot that I still use.  You'll never go wrong with a business degree, but there is quite a bit of math.  I would recommend finishing your English degree with a few electives in the Business field - like marketing and accounting.  It would be great to start your career in customer service in an industry you find interesting OR In sales.  You get to see a lot of different parts of the business in sales.  For example, you could be a sales representative for a text book company.  You'd be able to meet leaders in education and keep up with trends in education.  There are tons of options out there.  After working a few years, you might narrow down your dreams and then you can really focus there.  Another good option is to pursue education courses.  My niece got a degree in education, taught for a few years, then realized she really loved technology.  She moved (within the school district) to a job teaching teachers how to use technology to reach students more effectively.  I introduced her to the president of our foundation who had been a teacher -and she was encouraged to try to do something different!   Good luck to you! 

Kathryn recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out Linked in to find people who majored in English and see what they are doing now. You can join for free. Reach out to a few through the platform and ask to meet on the phone. Ask them about their careers.
Hi Kathryn, thank you so much for your informative and helpful answer! I appreciate you sharing your own experience with struggling to find the best major and career for yourself. Sales sounds interesting, but I don't think it's the right space for me. Trying to sell people stuff seems like a more "extroverted" endeavor, and I enjoy more personal interactions. That being said, education is definitely something I've been considering! Thank you again for taking the time to write an answer and helping me figure out what I want to do!

Vereaux’s Answer


Great questions, Catherine, and I appreciate the context. Here are a few thoughts

  1. The jobs you mentioned do not require a business degree, so continuing with your English major would be sufficient for those types of jobs.
  2. Remember that a career is not the same thing as a job, so think about what impact you'd like to make over the long-run and what jobs, in succession, you can have to achieve that impact.
  3. Math is a skill that is improved with practice and most schools offer tons of support for academics. Remember, it's in your school's best interest for you to do well in classes and to graduate. It helps their stats and when you succeed, you are more likely to support the school. If you are willing to find and take advantage of what your school has to offer, they will help you make it through your math classes and , hopefully, gain more confidence in that area.
  4. Other careers to consider: guidance counseling, college admissions advising, teaching
  5. Do some reflection about what you liked about the jobs you've had, what brings you joy in your day-to-day life, when you feel energized, what types of people energize you, and what you are naturally good at. Then, research and talk to people about jobs/careers that involve those things.

I hope this all helps!

Hi Vereaux, I enjoyed reading all the points you made, especially #4. I think I'll talk to a guidance counselor at my college to see if they have any advice for me as well. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my question, I appreciate it!

Elizabeth’s Answer


Taking business classes are very applicable regardless of what field you may evenaully go into. I have found the classes I’m taking (as a non-traditional student after being in the workforce for 10yrs or so) are very applicable to management and customer service jobs I have held. Being able to know what business leaders are looking for and how to be successful in business translates well into about anything you will do in life. Good luck!

Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

  • See if business classes can be used as electives for your current degree.
  • Talk to leaders at your job and see what steps they took to start their career.
Hi Elizabeth, I definitely agree with you, which is why I was looking into pursuing a Business minor at the very least. I really like the second step you suggested. Good luck with your studies as well, and thank you for taking the time to write an answer!