As college tuition rates continue to climb and the job market becomes ever-more competitive, a growing number of college students are choosing practicality over passion. Many are eschewing majors such as the fine arts
because of low starting salaries and high unemployment rates in favor of more lucrative fields of study. This may not be the right course of action for every student, as some come to regret not following their hearts. But for most modern students facing record-high levels of college loan debt, getting a high-paying job after graduation means that they will control of their own destinies.
What's the alternative?
According to a recent report from the Associated Press, more than half of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. With that said, the rate varies greatly by college major. Even in a lackluster economy, grads with marketable skills are highly sought after and rarely have to look long and hard for gainful employment. In fact, many are recruited right out of school. Along with the so-called STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), graduates with business degrees are always in high demand.
As the economy continues to recover in the wake of the Great Recession, business is once again leading the way. A new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that the average business graduate has a starting salary of $54,000, which is third on the most lucrative list after engineering and computer science. But when it comes to starting salaries, one particular group exceeds all others. Graduates who have earned their MBAs have a 92 percent employment rate and earn an eye-popping $85,000 right out of school!
Considering business school?
If you don't want to move back with mom and dad, which is what most recent college grads must now do, it behooves you to choose a major that offers some job security. As we mentioned, a business degree can open a lot of doors for you, whether you decide to pursue your MBA or not. Starting salaries are consistently high, no matter the state of the economy, and the discipline is so vast and variegated that most students find something they love doing during their undergraduate years. With that in mid, we will discuss a few simple strategies that will help you succeed in your business studies and beyond.
1. Study overseas
There is no such thing as a purely American corporation, not anymore. Sure, that company may have been founded in The States, but odds are it now earns a substantial portion of its revenues from overseas. It doesn't matter if we're talking about McDonald's or Microsoft, all of these global players rely on international markets to fuel future expansion. The businessperson of today must learn this lesson and gain experience in these foreign markets as soon as possible.
It is for this reason that most of the top business schools offer immersion trips where students can study and work abroad over winter and summer breaks and even during the school term. Take our word for it, a summer internship in a country with an emerging economy can do wonders for your career. Why? Because all of the corporations that are interested in entering these markets are looking for business graduates that worked in these areas and can help facilitate a smooth transition to numerous foreign nations.
2. Make connections
Every great businessman is also a great salesman. He must schmooze and booze, win friends and influence people. If he does his job right in the early years, he will establish a loyal network of clients, friends, and compatriots. Probably the easiest and most reliable way for him to accomplish this awesome feat is to start early, while still in business school.
Most colleges and universities that offer business courses also have clubs and organizations that students can join for free. Ostensibly, these clubs were established to foster the free and open exchange of knowledge and experience. But the main reason must students join them is to make connections with established members of the business community, as well as other students of course. An ambitious undergraduate can and should use this invaluable resource to network with successful alumni.
3. Grading style
For some college majors, it isn't particularly important that you graduate with a high GPA. But when interviewers have to look over hundreds of resumes to fill a single spot, every distinction is imperative. That is why we strongly suggest that you find out about the grading style of the school you wish to attend before you mail out your letter of intent. At the very least, you will want to know if grading is Relative and if it follows a Normal Curve or a Z-score-based grading system. Some schools still utilize the old minimum percentage model or a simple pass/fail grading system.
4. Take a lot of electives
Because most business subjects will be new to you, it makes sense to sign up for as many electives as you can since this should help you improve your GPA in the event that a new subject proves vexing. Electives at business school are generally quite generic and should be relatively easy for any serious student to ace.
5. Attend recruitment events
Businesses of all sizes are always on the lookout for talented, ambitious businesspeople to add to their rosters. To do so, most send recruiters and other HR professionals to job fairs, conferences, and seminars. Just as they do with promising young athletes, recruiters do their best to identify potential business standouts as early as possible, which is why 92 percent of MBA grads have jobs waiting for them after school.
But even if you cannot secure immediate employment at a recruitment event or a job fair, they are a great place to meet potential clients, bosses, and ambitious classmates. Always remember that business relationships rarely result in instantaneous payoffs. However, the hand you shake today could very well be signing your paycheck 5 years from now! In other words, you should never miss an opportunity to make a lasting impression.