20 Lessons You Learn In Business School

College of New Jersey’s Anandita Mehta

12) Business Is All About Value Creation: “Business is underpinned by qualitative and quantitative principles that empower managers to make good decisions about creating value for customers and, in turn, value for the firm and shareholders. Value to customers comes in the form of differentiated products and services that satisfy customer needs better than the competition. Value to the firm comes in the form of financial profits and satisfied employees. Value to shareholders comes in the form of an increasing stock price and dividends. Activities in a business should only be performed if they contribute to the creation of value.”
Kyle F. Rice, College of New Jersey

Even though it often gets a cold-hearted reputation of focusing on profits to the exclusion of everything else, the biggest lesson I’ve learned about business is that it is purpose-driven just as much as it is profit-driven. Business is always trying to achieve a social outcome with the goal of improving something, whether it is the lives of consumers with innovative products and services or the lives of employees by providing them with economic opportunities. Even for companies that are motivated by the pursuit of profits, it is rare to find ones that don’t have another goal.”
Anandita Mehta, College of New Jersey

University of Pittsburgh’s Sarah Braza

13) Discomfort Spurs Growth: “The most motivating lesson is that it’s difficult to grow inside of your comfort zone. Although we crave comfort and familiarity, we must challenge ourselves to evolve and progress.  When I studied abroad in Vietnam for the Pitt Business Plus3 Program, I had to fly 30 hours on three flights across the world, which was daunting. After realizing how much I could learn and grow from doing things that intimidated me, it became a constant mission: what more could I do to grow? What extra class could I take? Which job would expose me to the most? I developed more self-awareness and a willingness to embrace new challenges. I plan to carry this lesson forward throughout my personal life and my career.”
Sarah Braza, University of Pittsburgh

14) Business Connects the World: “One of the most fascinating things I learned upon admission to the business school was the fact that over two-thirds of business students study abroad at some point during their four years of undergraduate study. I am proud to say that I have had the opportunity to complete a short-term study in Dubai, Singapore, and Malaysia, along with studying for a full semester in Barcelona, Spain. Studying abroad has exposed me to extraordinary environments for self-growth, intellectual stimulation, and cultural diversity. We live in a world of increasing globalization. Seeing business operations function cross-culturally and interacting with students and locals from all across the world has expanded my worldview and leadership potential. This was amazing to see and proved to me the importance of business in connecting people across the globe.”
Robert Mitchell, University of Illinois (Gies)

15) Embrace Failure: “My biggest takeaway from my time as an undergraduate business student is the importance of embracing failure. I worked to mature to a place where I finally feel comfortable taking risks for potential greater return, using personal development and professional readiness to measure my degree of success rather than individual grades. Up until this year, what I had been calling “success” was actually my ability to complete tasks by following prompts and using structure. Even with application-based assignments, I consulted my notes every step of the way to make sure I was addressing every detail and operating in a textbook “real-world.” Similarly, with team projects, I found myself using other’s creative ideas to create outlines and order, so they neatly fit together and met the given instruction. I was seeking success in the safest way. A conversation in my “Creativity in Communication” class introduced the idea of failing to try being more detrimental than actual failure. This was the push I needed to reassess my attitude. For me now, learning is no longer memorizing formulas or mastering frameworks. Instead, learning is vulnerability. It is vulnerability in writing a rap battle to pitch a smoothie bowl brand; vulnerability in completely committing to a classmate’s brainchild for a 24-hour case challenge; and vulnerability in starting a small portfolio to practice the stock-picking techniques learned in class. Both the technical skills and the relationships built encouraged me to grow in ways I didn’t expect from “a business degree.”
Alexa Austin, Indiana University (Kelley)

St. John’s University’s Katherine Ross

16) Ask Questions and Challenge the Status Quo: “Through studying various cases and real-world examples, I have learned that the business world is full of gray areas where the answers are not always clear and information is often incomplete. It is important to then ask questions, utilize all resources, and speak up to ensure logical solutions are reached based on accurate and complete facts. Studying business does not solely consist of solving clear-cut problems by using a specified formula or process. The professionals who stand out are those who can think outside of the box and determine clear solutions that are supported by evidence. This lesson will be especially crucial in my accounting career, where integrity and credibility are of utmost importance.”
Emily Coppa, University of Virginia (McIntire)

17) Know Your Worth: “Nothing is more important than knowing your worth and being confident enough to let others know as well. You will be coming out of college with knowledge, skills, and a unique and fresh perspective on the world. Use that to your advantage and make sure people know exactly what you will bring to a team. You aren’t going to have people hyping you up every single day, so you need to learn how to do it yourself.”
Katherine Ross, St. John’s University (Tobin)

18) There is Never One Solution To A Problem: “What makes us unique individuals are the different ways in which we approach and come to a solution to a problem. I have learned to keep an open mind, so I can better understand people and the world around me.”
Jordan Sibley, Ohio State (Fisher)

19) Storytelling is Critical: “Whether it was telling a recruiter about who you are or presenting a pitch to a company that should follow your strategic advice, it seemed to be that it all came down to who can tell the better story. The technical analysis is important, but how you communicate what you learned through your analysis is even more important.”
Daniela Cuevas, University of Arizona (Eller)

20) No Job is Below You: “A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Bashar Masri, the founder of Massar International and visionary behind “Rawabi City,” Palestine’s first planned city…In my timid, 18-year-old voice, I asked him what advice he had for me as I began my career. He replied simply, “Remember that nothing is below you and nothing is above you.” Leaving that luncheon, I reflected on this succinct yet powerful remark. Many of us often believe that by studying a certain career or attending a certain institution, we are limited to a higher level of working class. Yet, what had made Masri and so many of his other international peers so successful was that they realized that offering a helpful hand, mopping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms with their staff was the best for their relationships. To students interested in studying business, I urge you to remember this. There is no honest work that is below you and there is no job out of your limits if you are willing to work. Each day you have a choice. Regardless of where you are, you have the choice of whether to complain about your situation, your job, and work or you can dedicate your energy and time to completing the task in front of you with positivity, integrity, and precision.”
Maia Julianne Kennedy, Wake Forest University

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