These days, it seems almost mandatory to go to college and get a degree. But how many people think back on what they’ve been taught after graduation? If you’re going to spend the time and money to get a degree, you should ensure that you get the maximum value out of it, and that won’t happen if your degree is in a field where it’s tough to find a job. When it comes to maximizing value, business degrees tend to do quite well, as the coursework and skills learned can apply to any number of careers.
It’s fair to be skeptical. After all, many people are under the impression that business sense is something you’re just born with. The pop culture image of a successful businessman is someone who makes decisions with his gut. A man who’s decisive and authoritative, with a visionary ability to instantly recognize what people want and find a way to sell it to them. How could an academic program at a university ever teach that? But business degrees absolutely can teach these things, and here’s how.
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Business Sense is Built, Not Born
At its most basic, business sense is no different than any other area of knowledge; it’s learned, either by reading, or classroom lectures, or practical experience. Many people who seem to have that innate sense for business have learned through experience, but not everyone is afforded such an opportunity. For the rest of us, the best way to pick up the basics behind business is with schooling.
Business degrees specialize in teaching students these basics, allowing them to identify the needs and wants of consumers and the emotions at work that drive those desires. They teach supply and demand, customer service, and public relations. These ideas lay the framework which the degree is built on, and beyond that, serve as the key ingredients for developing a business sense of your own. University programs in business often include internships, group projects, and practicums which allow you to put these skills to work, and offering the chance to have those experiences so critical to success in a controlled way. By learning the basics and then putting them into action, you’ll find you now have that business sense after all.
Soft Skills are Key
Of course, there’s more to a business degree than just business fundamentals and internship experiences. One of the critical ingredients for success, no matter the field, are what are referred to as “soft skills,” the often overlooked abilities like work ethic, teamwork, professionalism, and integrity. The term, originally coined by the US Army as early as 1968, refers to an idea that had been recognized even 50 years earlier. Soft skills are big when it comes to business, with seminars and self-help books commonly promising them as the secret you need. The hiring manager will be looking for them in the interview, your superiors will be looking for them as you get started, and the executives will try to spot them in everyone they meet. For the better part of the last century, the development of soft skills, whether called by that name or not, has been seen as one of the key indicators of leadership potential.
More so than most other degree areas, business schools have taken this concept to heart, and work to instill in students the importance of soft skills, developing them through courses that heavily involve teamwork or that focus exclusively on professionalism and ethics. Some degree programs even make it a point to evaluate progress on forming soft skills, and require it as a condition of graduation.
These soft skills are considered so critical because they aren’t about just knowing how to do your job. They’re key to interacting with people in a calm and mature manner, and getting work done smoothly, which means they can apply to work in any field. Even if you eventually find out that a career in business just isn’t right for you, the soft skills you learn while earning your degree will help you to achieve, regardless of where you end up.
Business Degrees Teach What You Didn’t Know You Needed
Another point in favor of business degrees is that the material that’s covered over the course of a degree program is highly relevant to the way that the world works overall. Management strategies are common even in business majors without a specific management specialty, because promotions almost always come with new responsibilities, and supervising other employees working under you is often one of them. Even someone who’s aiming to become an accountant may eventually wind up with half a dozen subordinates as their career advances. That extends beyond business careers as well, as everyone from research scientists to police officers to construction workers can find themselves in this situation. Of all the common academic degrees out there, only a business degree would equip you with the knowledge to handle what is, ultimately, an everyday situation.
This goes for many other areas of the degree program as well. While you might not be planning to be an accountant, it’s quite likely that you’ll need to balance a budget at some point, even if it’s just for your household. An understanding of finance can help with securing loans or a mortgage, while economics offers insight into the state of the markets in the big picture. When it comes to practical applications in life, few degrees can compare.
Business degrees have a lot more applications in the real world than you might think. A thorough understanding of the fundamentals of business is essential to building up the “business sense” that leads to success. Soft skills are an under-appreciated asset which few other programs will help you to develop. And the material you’ll learn in a business degree, even if it isn’t related to your major, can come in handy in countless real-life situations. Getting a degree is the most straightforward way to ensure you have what it takes to succeed, and applying what you’ve learned in these ways will help you to get the greatest possible value out of it.
Business degrees have a lot more applications in the real world than you might think. A thorough understanding of the fundamentals of business is essential to building up the “business sense” that leads to success. Soft skills are an under-appreciated asset which few other programs will help you to develop. And the material you’ll learn in a business degree, even if it isn’t related to your major, can come in handy in countless real life situations. Getting a degree is the most straightforward way to ensure you have what it takes to succeed, and applying what you’ve learned in these ways will help you to get the greatest possible value out of it.