What do you learn in college that is actually relevant to the business world?
Hi! My name is Anina and I'm a high school senior interning at CareerVillage. To be honest, I don't know much about business but my best friend is going to be a Business major, and he also seems a little confused on what a Business major would teach him, glossy pamphlets and the web catalogs aside. If you majored in Business, what kinds of skills did that really teach you? #college #business #finance #marketing
Well this is an interesting question, and I'm going to answer from probably a different perspective than you would expect. I didn't get a degree, and only dabbled in college. I took the sum total of a year and a half of classes between community college and tech school. Nevertheless, I believe I've succeeded pretty well in life. I am able to afford my large family of 10 while my wife stays home from work and we're still able to take in some great experiences around the globe.
Whether you go to college or not, the most important thing I've learned is the value of networking and assertiveness. While still a largely introverted person at heart; at times in my life, I have exercised the courage to open conversations with people and just ask for help or an intro. You'd be amazed at the willingness of people to lend a hand. I would say this, combined with the personal drive to always do your best, will serve you well in your career.
That said, I do now and then regret not having gotten a degree. In my career, whether I had a degree or not has never held me back from a job (due to the aforementioned networking), but when I've done public speaking engagements, I always felt as if my bio wasn't complete. It's a small thing really, but it's a confidence factor.
If I were to do it over again and go all the way through, I would put my focus in Finance or Law. Those are two degrees that I think will afford you the most opportunities in the actual workplace. The jobs you end up with may not be directly related to your major, but the foundational skills you learned will apply to most anything you choose to do. It will also help a great deal in managing your personal estate.
Hope this helps!
I agree with what Luis said above, it is not about the material you learn...you may learn some theory, concepts, principles and a framework that will help you prepare for the real world and a business job. But, the best thing about college is learning soft skills...teamwork, leadership, meeting deadlines, organization, achieving goals, etc.
Personally I learned a lot of these soft skills in the military and in ROTC in high school...so they can be learned in different settings.
The degree and courses are a way to get your foot in the door for an entry level business job...then the rest is up to your desire, ambition and goals.
good luck! :)
Luis Fernando Moreira
Luis Fernando’s Answer
In my opinion, the most important skill to develop is your ability to think on your feet, work in teams and the ability to solve complex problems. No single college class will give you those skills, but the combination of your experiences in college will give you a good start. Some people think that the actual material learned in college is irrelevant once you're working, but the basic concepts combined with the skills previously mentioned are definitely used on a daily basis even though most people might not realize it as it becomes ingrained in your thought process.
I agree with everything Luis and Gary said. I would add that outside of the classes themselves, surrounding yourself with classmates and other like-minded people can help guide you towards what you want to do. Never, ever pass up an opportunity to network and meet new people because you can use opportunities like that to bounce ideas and questions off of others. College will provide you with a firm foundation of concepts and time management while helping hone in your focus on what areas of business most interest you. Good luck as you progress.
A few areas that had almost immediate applicability. The process of critical thinking...so strangely courses in philosophy, history all provided a context for assessing situations and trying to determine a thoughtful plan of action. Additionally, courses in economics (invisible hand), accounting (balance sheets/earning statements) etc.
Other aspects of education were a bit less structured but every bit - if not more important.... as in how to work constructively and supportive(ly) in group settings. How to be a good team member, how to listen thoughtfully, how to be clear in verbal and written communication...
..with the above noted, the time spent learning how to write clearly (although I may not be doing so here), was the time best spent....and the constructive critique of my writing by teachers and fellow students was invaluable.
There are many skills you learn in college that help a business major. From accounting to marketing to business policies. However the most important part of a college education is learning time management and how to get large projects done with or without collaborating with others.
A lot of things I learned from college helped me to be successful in the business world. I would say the most relevant part is to train and teach you how to "manage and plan" your own future and how to "work with others". All the soft skills you learned from college (although you won't get a grade) will be so important and so crucial to lead you to become a successful business professional. Not everything you will learn in college can be directly applied in all the situations that life will throw at you, but it definitely will help you learn and get the "tools" to tackle all future issues, problems, and decisions that will come your way. I also think college is a good starting point to learn how to have those "crucial or difficult conversations" and stand up for what you believe in. Be a sponge and learn all you can from the courses and volunteer and get as many experiences as possible to get the real world experience before starting your career. I can tell you from my own experience that by working through college and joining to volunteer in community centers were some of the best lessons that I learned in my life!
You will need to focus on stress and time management. In order to manage stress you have to manage your time wisely. <span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>
<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>
I learned a number of skills in my college career that I apply today, both professionally and personally. The skills I think all people need to be successful today are communication, problem solving, collaboration and time management. I got a general business degree so I was involved in a lot of team 'projects'. I realized quickly that my success depended on my ability to communicate effectively, listen to others, collaborate to get things done quickly and problem solve to work through the challenges that came m way. when I graduated, I didn't have a specific skill set that companies were looking for (ie. law degree, computer science etc). I got into sales shortly after graduating and I leveraged the 3 skills I referenced to be able to move my career forward. More than ever, today I see the most effective employees of companies thrive because they have the ability to work in a team environment. The best advice I can share is take advantage of the opportunity to go to college. More than ever, having the degree will demonstrate your ability to take on challenges and overcome them. You will one day reflect back on what a great experience college was for you to navigate through life!
I agree with most of the comments provided. College mostly teach students people skills - collaboration, teamwork, etc. The concepts taught are the basics to start people off in the work force but what you will learn is how to work collaborately with the different types of personalities as well as be able to network with other students.
I went to college in the 90's so it's been a while and classes might be more relevant now. I majored in Advertising/Art History but my career has been in the software marketing industry. I'd say that the class content in college didn't directly help me with my career but the life lessons about how to interact with classmates, how to navigate course work and take instruction were imperative. Work is all about meeting deadlines, understanding what your managements wants/needs and dealing with unexpected hurdles. A really great way to learn how to obtain this life skill is with college. Being able to finish projects even when you might not want to and to realize work that needs to be done and volunteer to take it on, even though it isn't in your "job description" will all help. I feel college really helps with this in addition to being a resume requirements to get a job. I really, really recommend getting a career pertinent internship during your time at school. This will be AS important as your degree. I'd really take the last year of school and take the time to get that perfect internship in a company that you might want to work at after school. Find a mentor in that company (people would love to be asked!) and starting taking charge of your future. You'll leave school with the skills and friends you've obtained in school, a good internship for your resume and hopefully a good mentor which will set you up for your future.
First thing first, you learn about various business subjects like accounting, marketing, finance, etc. Then when you do case studies as a part of your curriculum, you apply your learning and see them work in a real life problem. I strongly suggest that you keep yourself updated with what's going on in the market. Reading newspaper, magazine, etc. is a great way to gather knowledge and develop business IQ. Finally, college is the best place to build the network. If you have a sound network from early on, it would help you land a job throughout your career. All the best!