Despite stellar job placement rates and frothy average salaries, business majors are still not overly confident in their financial future compared to other college majors, according to a recent Credit Karma survey. The report, which was released last month, found that 92% of political science and “government”-related majors were “very” or “extremely” confident in their 10-year financial outlook. Some 90% of engineering majors and 86% of education majors reported being very or extremely confident. Meantime, only 74% of business students reported being confident in their financial successes, which was less than those majoring in computer science, nursing, and sciences.
“There are many reasons for a student to worry, but the key message we tell our students is to diversify their education and develop a diverse but complementary skillset,” says Monique Frost, the director of Career and Development at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business. “On our part, schools need to help students gain exposure to the real world so students go out doing things they’ve done before, with the skills they need to learn the things they haven’t done before.”
The report surveyed 500 college students graduating in 2018 and 500 parents of college students graduating in 2018. Business majors were more confident in their financial future than social science, liberal arts, and performing arts majors. Overall, 57% of graduating college students reported being ready for financial independence after graduation. About two-thirds (67%) of parent respondents said they thought their graduating college students were ready for financial independence after graduation. Only about half of parents (51%) believe their children’s’ generation will do better financially than their generation. Meanwhile, less than half (45%) of graduates believe they will do financially better than their parent’s generation.
HOW BUSINESS SCHOOLS ARE RESPONDING
Business schools are doing what they can to keep their graduates competitive on the job market. At the Farmer School, for example, the school revamped their curriculum about two years ago and added required entrepreneurship and coding courses for their incoming freshmen. Frost says the coding course was implemented after receiving feedback from employers that business students with coding chops would lift to the top in applicant pools. stand out would soon be commonplace with tech development trends. The coding course at Farmer equips students with prowess in coding languages like Python and Sql.
Having some diversity in minors and co-majors can also set job seekers apart from their peers. The most popular combinations Frost says she hears being attractive to employers are for business majors to have knowledge in strategic communication, analytics, and interactive media studies. “The big data movement is changing job duties and demands,” she adds. “Getting an internship and a global experience on top of your business degree is just getting the basics done. Students are encouraged to step out even further to be noticed early on.”
Internships are also helpful. Marilyn Zubak, a senior marketing major at Farmer, has already secured herself a full-time position at Deloitte Consulting. The key, she says, was a successful internship that started out from a on-campus recruiting event.
“I’ll be going into the real world in a few months, and there’s a lot of pressure on yourself to be financially well-off,” Zubak says. “Other than working on your soft skills and hard skills, you also need to learn what you’re good at, and what you’re passionate about.”
Zuback also says participating in numerous case competitions and extending her learning outside of the classroom were also key. “I have heard about a decline in student participation in business organizations because students want to concentrate on their academics alone, but that’s not enough anymore,” Zuback believes.
REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCES KEY
Real world entrepreneurship is also an approach taken at Babson College. All freshmen take a Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course, where students work in teams of 25 to 30 to ideate, create, develop, and launch a company. From sourcing for products, creating an organizational structure, sorting out financials, and selling it both on-campus and off-campus, the students have to handle every aspect of launching and running a business. The university loans each team up to $3,000 to launch the business, and when the year-long project comes to an end, students must liquidate, and bring back the initial sum borrowed. Profits are donated to a nonprofit of the students’ choice.
“We’ve done this for the last 17 years and witnessed how students learn about time management, getting jobs done, and holding people responsible,” Sosnowski says. “We believe in entrepreneurial thinking and our students are immersed in the business of business from day one.”
Sosnowski says that of the class of 2,300 students, 90% of students also take on internships voluntarily and externships, where students go on job shadowing excursions, are commonplace. An important aspect of Babson education, Sosnowski added, is self assessment and research, for students to hear from faculty with industry experience, current industry players, and explore the positions they think they want. “We hear many students say they are interested in investment banking because it’s impressive and there’s money, but they haven’t gathered the necessary intelligence to understand the exact position and have unrealistic expectations,” she said. “We encourage our students to learn more about themselves, find out what excites them and what triggers them, and be authentic.”