For many international students, it’s difficult to know what career you want to go into when you’re only 18 or 19 years old. But colleges often require that you choose a major by the end of your freshman year. So what should you do if you’re not set on a particular major? One option is to consider a degree in business. Why study business? Because the skills and topics covered in business programs are widely applicable to just about any career. In fact, using business skills in other careers can sometimes help you succeed faster than you would have if you majored in those fields!
In many business courses you will will pick up accounting and other mathematical skills that can help in a variety of careers. Maybe you want to work for a government agency or in another country that deals with taxes. Those same mathematical skills that would help you excel in the business world will be quite valuable when applied to careful consideration of tax law.
The use of business skills in other careers isn’t limited to just number crunching. Networking is essential to good business and in order to maximize networking, business programs teach and cultivate communication skills. As you can imagine, the ability to clearly and effectively communicate with other people has applicability far beyond the business world. If you decide to become a community organizer, for example, communication skills will come in handy both at the administrative level and at the grassroots level. Knowing how to get people together and how to promote your message are essential to effective organizing in any field.
Critical thinking skills learned within business programs also apply in nearly every other career. All fields face problems, and most problems need solutions. Perhaps you decide to become a school teacher. Without doubt you will face problems with your classes. Maybe your students are all underperforming. Maybe there’s a social situation causing students stress. These are problems that can be fixed with critically thought out solutions. You may think a primary school classroom and the business world are far apart, but many useful skills overlap.
Finally, another key skill taught in business programs is research. Any decent business project, whether it be a marketing decision or an exploratory committee for relocation, requires significant research into the situation at hand. But let’s say that instead of a business career, you want to enter the non-profit sector and work with an environmental charity. In order to maximize your focus and optimize your limited resources, you will need to engage in multiple levels of research.
The above skills obviously work inside the business world in careers such as accounting, corporate finance, management, marketing, or economics. But they are just as useful outside of the usual business realm. Business skills in other careers are not out of place and are oftentimes great advantages.
* Photo of business man writing courtesy of Shutterstock