Best Advice From The Class Of 2020

Fordham University’s Alexandra Gallagher

GET FACULTY ON YOUR SIDE

That’s just one habit that this year’s top seniors encourage future business majors to adopt. Christopher Newport’s Tisha Lim, for one, urges future students to be proactive and eager – and take advantage of every opportunity to network and sign up for professional development. Alexandra Gallagher, a Fordham University grad, echoes Lim’s sentiments. A PwC hire, Gallagher encourages incoming freshmen to keep an open mind early on, to better pinpoint what truly interests them. If anything, adds Rutgers University’s Kaelyn Patel business students should look up from the textbook to see the bigger picture around them.

“Get curious about the world around you,” she writes. “Spend time every day watching business news on CNBC or Bloomberg. Subscribe to The Skimm and Owler to get news on your favorite companies and daily current events. Stay informed on what is going on in the world economically and politically, because this will aid in your ability to connect what you learn in the classroom to the real world. This is what separates good business students from the students who end up leading Fortune 100 companies.”

Another differentiator? That would be the network that you gain from four years of college. This includes classmates who can coach and support you – and professors who can mentor you. At Christopher Newport University, Jordan Verbeck enjoyed a value-add: an open door faculty always looking out for their students. As a result, she suggests that business students make an effort to really connect with their teachers.

“Professors are dedicated to helping their students and often know of several career, volunteer, and networking opportunities and have many professional connections,” she writes. “Forming an open stream of communication provides students with easier clarification of muddy topics, a trustworthy resource, and a professional colleague that is willing to help in any way.”

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

To some, networking can be awkward – forced and fake – making it difficult to break through. Let’s face it: when you approach a strange, they already have their guard up; they assume you’re looking for something from them. That can be true…when you’re doing it in the wrong way for selfish reasons. Studying Finance at Rutgers University, Christina Kallinosis grew comfortable with networking. The reason? For her, networking was no different than any communication. To succeed, you needed to be interested in other people – and courageous enough to speak first.

Notre Dame University’s Bruce Leonard Morris

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she writes. “Being able to strike up a conversation and find common interests with people is a good skill that can land you in a position you never thought you could be in, but you won’t be able to get there if you’re too shy to talk to anyone in the first place.”

Every year, nearly 380,000 students major in business-related fields – or nearly 1-of-5 graduates. Certainly, the pay – which can start as high as $90K for Wharton and Carnegie Mellon graduates – has great appeal. Let’s face it: if you can sell, serve, or summate, you’ll always find work. Despite this, Bruce Leonard Morris warns prospective majors to make sure they are pursuing business for the right reasons.

“It is about what you want to do,” he contends. “Yes, there is the slight issue of needing to meet the ROI of your college education and paying back loans by having a high salary job after graduation, but do not feel like that demands you major in business. You typically only have four years to enjoy the amazing experience of undergraduate life, so spend it studying a subject that brings you genuine joy…As for all those who are sure they want to major in business, my advice to you is this: Business is not entirely about money. View it as an intimately human field and underutilized vehicle for social change. Your experience will be far more rewarding and exciting.

Deven Rodriguez, St. John’s University

THE GAME OF BUSINESS

For Bucknell University’s Arianne Evans, that excitement stems from the dynamic nature of business…and the creativity that it stirs. “Studying business is like playing a game, but the rules are always changing,” she observes. “There are rarely definitive right or wrong answers in the field of business, but it is all dependent on the contextualized goal at hand. Therefore, business is also like a puzzle; it is putting pieces together, sometimes many times before you get the right fit, but with a steadfast vision in mind. If you are driven by strategy, teamwork, and execution then majoring in a business-related field is for you.

Such experiences train business students to be versatile. That’s one reason, says the University of Arizona’s Daniela Cuevas, why business majors are never defined by their degree. They develop so many transferrable skills that they can do anything with their degree!  In the end, the degree or job isn’t the real question that business majors must pose. Instead, says Deven Rodriguez of St. John’s, it revolves around something far more fundamental.

“I would advise a student to ask him/herself one question: Who do you want to be? NOT WHAT, but who. Once you start to discover who you are, by practicing self-reflection, you will be able to discern what major is best for you. Don’t do something because it makes the most money. Do something because it aligns with the person God created you to be.”

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