Business Background

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I’m an English major, and graduation has me nervous. The economy seems to be doing well, but I’m not sure what kinds of jobs are available to me – or which ones I even want!

One thing I’m considering is going into business, because that seems to be where the money is these days. I think I’d be good at it and that I’d enjoy it, but I’m not sure that I have the background that hiring managers are looking for in the business world. What kind of backgrounds do businessmen and women come from, these days? What can I do to bolster my resume?

“Business” is a pretty broad category – and, appropriately enough, the people who make their living in business come from a very diverse array of backgrounds. Successful entrepreneurs can come from just about any sort of educational background, and you have a shot at making the jump to business even if you’re not about to found your own company. Entry-level positions in business are often open to people of all educational backgrounds. And sometimes a degree in English might even help, such as in a role focused on communications.

A business education will absolutely be a plus when applying to jobs in business, say educators at Linfield College, home of an online international business degree program. But programs like the one at Linfield make it possible for you to secure a business education after college graduation. You can choose to apply to business schools, post baccalaureate programs, or other business degree programs now – or you could go to work for a few years and then return with that experience under your belt, at which point you might get more attention from the admissions offices. You could go to school part-time while working full-time, or vice versa, and you may even be able to get your employer to pay for your business education later on in your career. In short, there are a lot of options!

So what’s the best plan for your situation? Well, that all depends on what type of business you want to go into. There are a lot of career paths in business, say accountants at Livingston, New Jersey business consulting firm Wiss. Business is often about specializing, and even entrepreneurs who found startups don’t do everything themselves (that’s why companies like Wiss have a role to play). So you need to decide what kind of business professional you want to be: are you interested in human resources? Finance? Sales?

From there, experts recommend you ask the people who know: the professionals who have the job you want someday. If you can, try to network through people you know – but, if necessary, try a cold call or email. The important thing is to gain some insight into how people who were successful in your chosen field got to where they are today. Their LinkedIn account, bio page on their company website, and online resume will give you clues, too (don’t forget to do some research before you speak to a potential mentor – nobody wants to help an ill-prepared professional).

Ultimately, you will find that your English degree does not prohibit you from finding a job that is both enjoyable and financially secure. Balance your passions with your need to make money, and don’t think of yourself as unemployable. After all, you won’t find much more successful business professionals than former Goldman Sachs CEO and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner – and every one of them majored in English.

“I was an English major, so I love discussing possibilities and alternate theories.” – William Mapother

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