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Would a major in Strategic Communications with a Business minor or a major in Marketing be best for a career in business?

I'm ending my second year in college and am having trouble with my major. I haven't necessarily decided on one yet. I'm deciding if I should do Strategic Communications with a Business minor or apply to the business school and do Marketing. I'm planning on applying no matter what but I would have to decide which route to take by July 2020 (when I would find out if I got into the business school or not). If I go with marketing, I would definitely have to do another year of college and would be behind/may struggle in difficult classes. If I do strategic communications, I would be on track for 4 years but still be catching up. My future career interests seem to center around the business world and I see myself best with the marketing area. I don't have a good idea of what exactly I want to do, but I want to be involved with business. This being said, which would be the best major route for me to pursue? #business #marketing #college-major #college #entrepreneur #major #communications #comm #stratcomm #career #future #college-major


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Julie’s Answer

Hi Grace,

I think you can be successful in marketing with either major. Given that, I'd recommend doing strategic communications with a business minor so you can graduate sooner. Great communication skills are foundational to marketing and once you graduate, you should think about what type of role will be most interesting to you. You could use your communication skills in a variety of ways. You could do a role in corporate communications (PR), social media, content marketing and a variety of other roles. You may want to do an internship with a marketing team so you can get a sense of which jobs you enjoy most.

Good luck!

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Chiara’s Answer

It's hard to decide what to do with your life before you've even set foot in the business world! My advice would be to try and do an internship in Marketing this summer to see if it's something you're interested in specifically.

Majoring in Marketing might be a lot more specific of a degree than "Strategic Communications". If you're not sure if you want to go into marketing specifically, a broader business degree could leave more options open.

That being said - take a look at the classes specifically and see what interests you and what you think would be most useful to your career. In the end - the difference between a "Marketing" degree and a "Strategic Communications" degree might not make much difference on paper (i.e. when an employer is looking at your resume), unless the university you're attending has a particularly renowned Business School.

Also - if you're planning on continuing on to grad school, your undergraduate degree will become even less significant to employers.

Best of luck with your decision! And know that either way, a lot of doors will still be open to you.

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Marina’s Answer

As someone who works in marketing without a traditional marketing degree, I believe your Strategic Communications major with a minor is business is the best bet. Content and copywriting skills are strong needs in any marketing job and a handful of job descriptions I’ve read preferred a business, communications or journalism background. Story telling and communicating a compelling message to a target audience are at the core of any marketing career. Having education and experience in both with serve you well.

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Matt’s Answer

Grace, even if you end up in the marketing field, communication is the most critical skill you can build. I am a former journalist now in marketing, and from my observation, your marketing know-how is far less important than your ability to structure and communicate ideas. You have other considerations (time, money etc.) influencing your school decision and, understandably, those may win out. But whatever you pick, and wherever you ultimately land professionally, hone those communication skills. Good luck!

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Kelsey’s Answer

HI Grace -

I agree that communication skills are critical in any career, and if you're more sure of business than anything else, I would suggest a business degree (regardless of the major), and a minor in communications, if possible. Pursuing business will ensure that you take classes that are foundational to business, such as accounting, finance, statistics, information technology, etc. if you are able to take the time you need, and not go into any/additional debt, to pursue this degree, I think it will keep your options for future jobs open.

As many others have mentioned, try to find an internship in marketing or other areas you're interested in to gain some experience in what life might be like when you're working in the field.

When it comes down to it, I think either option will serve your career well!

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Katrina’s Answer

You've already gotten a lot of advice and as you can see people have differing opinions - the fact is, there is no right or wrong path here. If you can afford to stay in school for another year, the Business/Marketing combo would be desirable by many companies/industries - it gives you a taste of marketing, comms, finance, strategy etc. If you cannot afford or don't want to do an additional year of school Strat Comms is a fine major and there are many career opportunities including marketing communications. Talk to people in these careers to learn more about them and read up them via LinkedIn and general internet searches.

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Beth’s Answer

What parts of marketing and communications are you most interested in? Is it content/ design or the data analysis/market trends? I would also look at the required courses for each major and see which one interests you more. Either major will lead to opportunities.

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Ari’s Answer

If you want a career in business I would suggest majoring in Marketing and having a minor in communications. You still take the classes for both of the areas that you are interested in but you will find it easier to find a job in the business field if you have a business degree

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Russ’s Answer

Strategic communication is a great major - and is NOT industry specific! During this time and for the next several years - people with this skill set will be in great demand - the trick is - is to understand how several of the big companies/industries work and how the communicate to the public. It would be worth your time to go look for for internet base informational classes about disaster recovery and business continuity - because strategic communication is a key for all companies - and there are teams of people crafting responses for the executives when a small or large issue occurs - and with Covid19 - the need for strategic communication will not only be needed now but over the next several years - because lawyers will be seeking to sue and destroy companies based on what the executives say and print -

Expand your world of knowledge about disaster recovery and you will be a major player in strategic communication

Russ recommends the following next steps:

Free and low cost training and information about disaster recovery - business continuity
Find out who are the communication directors in various companies - as ask for some insights
Search the internet about business continuity articles

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Jeff’s Answer

As many others are voicing here, the strategic communications route is likely best. It gives you the opportunity to be finished sooner. You can always go back to get more education!

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Jen’s Answer

Hi Grace! As many of the folks have said before me, your strategic communication major and business minor can really help you build the skills most businesses are looking for. I'd also look with your minor classes if you could take a business-focused data and analytics course. No matter if you do corporate communication or Marketing having some D&A knowledge is going to be a great asset to have.

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Chris’s Answer

Strategic communications with a business minor would open more doors. Marketing will get a few business classes for you, but it doesn't get you the depth. Chief marketing officers rarely become CEOs - however, if you have broader business experience with a communications background you can go further. Make sure you can understand the economics and financial side of business as that will give you the most oomph when dealing with people.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Grace,

I would recommend going into a general business degree. If you have to define your study at this point, I would aim towards marketing. It has a large umbrella of career opportunities.

Thanks,
Blake

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Jacob’s Answer

Hi Grace,
This is definitely a hot topic. I personally think if you apply to the business school and do marketing you will set yourself up for greater success. In doing so you will inherently take a lot of the same classes that you would for a minor in business. I also feel that following the marketing path will give you a more comprehensive skill set than just strategic communication. Yes, communication and messaging is part of marketing, however it is just one slice of the pie. In the marketing program, you should also learn trend analysis and analytics, strategy, market sizing, competitive positioning, operations and financials. I feel that this will make you a stronger candidate coming out of school.

I hope this helps

Jacob

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Pam’s Answer

Pairing a strategic comms degree with a business degree is a smart move. And within those disciplines, if there are courses around data analytics that you can take, I highly recommend it.

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Dorsey’s Answer

Anything with communications is a smart move. No matter what field you ultimately land in, utilizing your communication skill set is something you will always fall back on. Companies look for individuals who can communicate effectively. I started in public relations and through the development of my communication skill set, I was able to adapt and grow my career and ultimately landed in operations. To this day, I still fall back on strategic communications as a key skill to do my job effectively every day and on every project I'm assigned to.

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Kelsey’s Answer

HI Grace -

I agree that communication skills are critical in any career, and if you're more sure of business than anything else, I would suggest a business degree (regardless of the major), and a minor in communications, if possible. Pursuing business will ensure that you take classes that are foundational to business, such as accounting, finance, statistics, information technology, etc. if you are able to take the time you need, and not go into any/additional debt, to pursue this degree, I think it will keep your options for future jobs open.

As many others have mentioned, try to find an internship in marketing or other areas you're interested in to gain some experience in what life might be like when you're working in the field.

When it comes down to it, I think either option will serve your career well!

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Pam’s Answer

Pairing a strategic comms degree with a business degree is a smart move. And within those disciplines, if there are courses around data analytics that you can take, I highly recommend it.

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Dana’s Answer

Hi Grace,

The short answer is YES! I was a public relations major which primary focused on the strategy behind communications/mass media. I also minored in business. I found that having the business minor was extremely beneficial and made me more marketable to companies. Ultimately my career path has led me to roles in retail planning, forecasting and supply chain, but I have found that in every role my communications background has enabled me to be more effective in managing the business and my relationships with my internal customers. In my current role I serve as a strategic liaison between several cross-functional groups in supply chain, demand planning, marketing, finance and manufacturing. If I did not have both a foundation in strategic communications and a high level understanding of the workings of the business, I would not be as effective in this role.

Kathryn gave some great examples of entry level positions you can search for in the communications/marketing area. Other positions on the business/operations side that might appeal to you might be:
- Project Manager
- Business Analyst
- Product Development Specialist

Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions!

Regards,
Dana

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Kathryn’s Answer

Hi Grace, there are lot of of opportunities in the business world for both degrees. Maybe it would be helpful to hear about some of the jobs and responsibilities that a typical business would have for both degree options.

Marketing jobs:
- Product marketing - owner of the marketing plan for one product at the company (either a physical product or piece of software)
- Digital marketing - preparing and deploying emails, social media posts, web pages, SEO, etc.
- Content marketing - writing pieces that engage customers by providing the information they need
- Experiential marketing - reaching customers through live and virtual events
- Typical entry-level job title: Marketing Associate, Marketing Specialist

Strategic Communications jobs:
- Public relations - press releases of information for the media and general public
- Executive support - speech writing and preparing company spokespeople for public appearances
- Internal communications - making sure employees have the information they need about upcoming changes, company policies, etc.
- Typical entry-level job title: Communications Associate, Communications Specialist

You should look up some job descriptions and see which types of job interests you the most. An extra year of college will not make a big difference in the grand scheme of things, I think you should choose the degree that fits your interests best. That being said, Strategic Communications and Marketing do have similarities and especially if you get the minor in business, there could be an opportunity in your future to switch fields.

I also recommend finding an internship ASAP so you can learn about the business world in real life, plus build your skills and resume. Start with your school's career center, and don't forget to ask ALL your friends what their parents do, what companies they work for, and if it has an internship program :-)

Good luck!

Kathryn recommends the following next steps:

Look up entry-level job descriptions for "communications associate" and "marketing associate" and see which job interests you the most.
Find a marketing or communications internship by working with your school's career center, or leveraging your network (especially your friends' parents)
Don't stress about it too much because those fields are similar, and both have many opportunities in the business world!

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Richard’s Answer

You cannot go wrong with a degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing. A Business degree will give you visibility and understanding of all aspects of the Business enterprise, which will enable you to be more successful with your Marketing activities. I agree with others who speak to the value of effective communications. If you have an opportunity to take classes in writing and/or communications, that will help. Bottom line: Think of these classes as the building blocks that will provide a solid foundation for your career.

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