Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Learning business outside of b-school

In my last post, I mentioned that there are many ways to build business skills, experiences and knowledge without having to major in business at college.  These activities are ways for both liberal arts and business students to learn about business as well as figure out areas of interest. Although some of the ideas listed below are specific to Wake Forest students, many colleges and universities offer similar programs and resources.  Some of the offerings below are available at Wake Forest to non-Wake Forest students (like the MA in Management and MBA graduate school).

The following are examples of ways you can learn about business without majoring in it:

  • MA in Management – One year program for liberal arts majors immediately after completing a bachelor’s degree. Equivalent to the 1st year of the MBA program.
  • Summer Management Program – One month summer business program for liberal arts majors.
  • Minor in Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise – Take classes from both the business school and liberal arts college to understand the basics of starting and growing a business, as well as learn the disciplines of innovation and creativity.
  • Start your own business with support from the University Center for Entrepreneurship – The best way to learn about business is to run one. Why not try starting your own for-profit or non-profit organization? You can sell it or find someone else to manage it when you graduate.
  • Internships – Work with your career office to develop an action plan for finding ones that interest you
  • Projects with companies and community organizations – Pro bono or for a class project
  • Read the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Inc., or other business journals
  • Join a business-oriented club: consulting, finance, marketing, retail. etc…
  • Join the newspaper or radio station or fraternity/sorority/social club business staff
  • Work at a business operation on or off-campus and ask for new projects to learn more about how the business is run
  • Talk to your parents, your friends’ parents or other working adults about their businesses and career journeys
  • Take a class or two at the undergraduate or graduate business school
  • Participate in business case competitions
  • Hang out with business students and learn their lingo and how they are preparing for life after college
  • Read about business careers from Vault or WetFeet.com. Your career center should have similar resources
  • Consider graduate business school after getting some work and life experience. Most schools do not expect (or even want) you to have majored in business in college

Whether you go to the business school or not, you should do many of the things above to help you learn about business and help you figure out what areas of business are of most interest to you.  In addition, you’ll be better prepared to market yourself to employers, communicate a high knowledge and interest level, and have good stories to share with them (which is a particularly critical asset for interviews).

If you have other ways to learn about business besides majoring in it, please share them with me and my readers.  Many students and parents would appreciate your advice.

Category: Career Exploration, Major Selection, Tips for Students