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Business Major: Questionable Value?

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Replies to: Business Major: Questionable Value?

  • Time2Time2 675 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 708 Member
    ^^^ I agree. Amazing to me how someone still in college can be such an expert on what backgrounds and/or degrees really matter in the business world.
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  • MSFHQsiteMSFHQsite 316 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 319 Member
    It is real simple. If you go to an Ivy you can study anything and get into a high paying business job. Outside of an Ivy you are better off studying business. Liberal arts degrees are fine, but you will have a hard time competing with not only liberal arts grads from top schools, but business students at your own school.
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  • seekingknowledgeseekingknowledge 596 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 660 Member
    So back to the original article...I believe that if our corporate world is really seeking excellent written, communication and critical thinking skills...why is it that they create barriers (business majors need only apply) when there is a rich pool of liberal arts students that excel in these areas?
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  • wsc187wsc187 17 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 19 New Member
    first of all, just because The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on this topic doesn't instantly give it validity. It seems like only Accounting majors can realistically jump straight into a job right out of undergrad. I mean, getting a business admin or marketing degree is almost like the equivalent of getting a psychology degree or something like that. it's educational, it's respectful - but it's not going to get you a job on its own.
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  • WhatdidyouWhatdidyou 535 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 539 Member
    "The secret is that all of that development happens outside of the classroom, and many students go through four years without taking advantage of it."

    I like this.

    In my experience, business schools usually give students a day off, such as Friday. Most students use it to sleep/work/party, but it is meant for professional development.

    In interviews, they usually don't get into questions about the content of your courses BUT they always ask you about your experiences outside the classroom.

    IMO, in most cases, a business degee trumps a liberal arts degree.

    "It seems like only Accounting majors can realistically jump straight into a job right out of undergrad. "

    Strange comment; i don't agree.
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  • nwcrazynwcrazy 161 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    @londondad--

    A better way to go into banking or private equity is to avoid a "dime a dozen" bachelors in business or economics altogether. Instead, major in any of the sciences or engineering. Then pad it with finance courses. I can tell you I did a lot of problem solving getting my BS in molecular biology years ago. Genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, and math labs and courses will get you to think critically. Business courses are easy, by comparison. I know, I took a ton of business courses too.
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  • hkem123hkem123 674 replies40 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 714 Member
    One reason I've heard from a recruiter at BoAML why they sometimes prefer a top business student (Wharton, top 7-8 schools) to an Ivy liberal arts major is that business students tend to have a much better idea of what they are getting into. This translates to better performance in analyst classes and just a better fit for the company overall. He said that the Ivy League liberal arts students are very smart, and are able to do the work, but they tend to have less commitment to the industry.
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  • Time2Time2 675 replies33 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 708 Member
    Going to an Ivy league school is no more of a guarantee of success then saying by attending a local Community College you are destined for failure..........that is total nonsense. At any college there will be a range of students and their capabilities.

    For anyone currently in the business world, can you even name the colleges that 10 of the people in your office attended? Success after college is largely determined by your skills and ability not by the name on your diploma.
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  • GoalsOrientedGoalsOriented 107 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    This is funny. There are two main opposing sides in this thread. Both have different opinions on what they believe to be the "best" educational credentials. However, it seems both sides generally agree on what are the best skills/abilities a student should have after graduating college. The sides just disagree on which credentials lead to those skills and abilities.

    I have most of those skills and abilities (the remainder of which I just need significant work/practical experience and training). I strongly demonstrated them throughout college, and in several different ways I took the initiative and went far beyond what my school, curriculum / classes, and professors expected me to do to make an 'A.' I excelled not only because I enjoyed accomplishing challenging objectives (whereas my peers "stopped" as soon as they believed they had their preferred grade), but also because I was looking to the future and knew I needed to stand out, starting right then, if I was to achieve my career goals.

    My resumes/cover letters strongly reflect this drive and all the necessary abilities / skills that were needed to achieve what I did. I have sent out close to a hundred applications now, almost all of which to jobs, companies, and training programs (among a variety of industries, company sizes, and job types) for which I met the posted minimum requirements. I have also posted my profile on all the major career/job websites and have scored at least a few hundred views probably. Yet the only serious inquiries I have received so far are one high-travel (as in 80-100% - too much for me right now) and independent insurance sales opportunities. All of the applications I have sent unsolicitated have been rejected so far.

    So who in the world is doing the hiring and what are THEY looking for? Because the people hiring "at large," and the factors they utilize for hiring decisions (or even interview invitations for that matter) definitely do not match anything I see from either side in this thread.

    P.S.
    I am a Business-Management Information Systems graduate.
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  • jonahrubinjonahrubin 541 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 547 Member
    Dumbest thread ever.

    Consulting firms and investment banks prefer to hire students with a broader business background = No business undergrads at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and half the other elite schools they look at.

    That technology firms aren't falling over themselves to hire accounting majors is, however, shocking. I guess they're just hiring all the English/Fashion design double majors they can find.
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  • jonahrubinjonahrubin 541 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 547 Member
    GoalsOriented;

    First, most jobs aren't found through internet applications. Career websites at colleges are a better bet. Actual human contact helps when you are in school, too.

    When we receive resumes, we basically toss any that are below a 3.5(our stated minimum) and then look for relevant experience of some kind. We may toss the resume if there's a red flag. Our job is similar to investment banking, so people in investment banking clubs are eyed somewhat warily but not excluded(we get paid more than accountants by a significant margin but way below investment bankers). Too much interest in something like trading is definitely a red flag. Our job is nothing like that, so people that want to do that are not going to be happy here. Not a ton of scrutiny. Cover letters are given a lot of attention because we demand good writing skills and attention to detail. We all have written cover letters before (we know they're stupid), so we mainly focus on whether or not you made grammatical errors, put in extra punctuation marks, etc. Your cover letter and thank you letters post-interview are things you should have checked four or five times to make sure they are flawless, so if you can't handle that you won't last here.

    Still, if you have a good GPA and did more than nothing with your spare time in college, we'll probably call you. We are more willing than most to give people a 15 minute call, ask them a few technical questions and then write them off if they blow them. You'd be amazed how many people from highly respected schools, including one that gets mentioned constantly on this forum, can't walk you through the cash flow statement or explain CAPM.
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  • taxguytaxguy 6244 replies385 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    GoalsOriented, give me a kid with a 3.5 or better in accounting ( and probably an even lower GPA) who can interview well and I promise you they will get a job in accounting if they do any searching.
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  • shawbridgeshawbridge 5683 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,736 Senior Member
    jonahrubin, good advice on letters -- form probably matters a lot more than substance. Most kids from Ivies wouldn't know how to read a cash flow statement, but they learn that on the job at banks/i-banks etc. It wouldn't be bad to take a quick course on accounting/spread sheets. I think my son's school offers a weekend course. If they hadn't taken a finance theory course, they wouldn't know about the existence of CAPM, let alone be able to explain it (or its flaws). I studied a lot of math in college/grad school and started teaching at a B-School -- never studied accounting or finance. While there, I picked up a finance text and read it -- I think another guy and I went through it -- and figured it out. Honestly, it is not that hard to figure out if you know math and can think. Later, I worked as an i-banker and for a family office making PE-like investments and then helped people start a couple of hedge funds. Never took an accounting course or a finance course. For some positions in investment management, I'd rather have the guy who can figure it out than the guy who has learned it but doesn't have the capability to figure out new things. For others, folks in corporate treasury or accounting, they should start with accounting, but will need to be able to figure other stuff out.

    I would suggest an accounting course because it is such an unusual way of thinking and you get caught up in discussions that otherwise seem nonsensical -- "We can't book this if we do the transaction that way but can if we do it this way."

    taxguy, I found I was sometimes able to create significant amounts of value in transactions by posing questions like that and getting answers from the accounting guys. I'd want to get capital gains tax treatment, for example. They'd say, "You can't do that because of X." I'd say, "What if we called it a Y?" They'd say, "Oh, well if you call it a Y, then we don't have problems with X." "Can we get capital gains treatment then?" "Yes." I'd have to lead them through it step by step. So, they were extremely good at thinking within their very limited paradigm but extremely weak at thinking beyond it. A noticeable fraction couldn't get it even after I'd led them through it. That is the experience I drew on in saying that if we can get accounting guys to think, they can rise beyond functional positions. What I meant, I guess, is think beyond the accounting paradigm.
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  • quicksilverquicksilver 78 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    @seekingknowledge;
    how in the world is the VAST majority of internships requiring a business degree? the fact that you leave engineering out of the picture already discredits your claim. i guess you mean that banks and finance firms require you to have a business degree. the corporate world does not consist entirely of banks.
    every year, our colleges churn out a disproportionate amount of business majors and bankers when clearly the supply is way greater than the demand. what we need to understand is that our nation's future rests upon technological innovation, thus the ever increasing need for engineers and scientists. we don't need more bankers. we need more funding for ground-breaking research and figuring out a way to create new job openings and bring manufacturing back into our country.
    our world now is constantly changing and upgrading, so we're always in need of people who easily adapt and therefore can learn fairly quickly. the US banking scene is a thing of the past. it's technology that's driving our future and our nation out of this economic slump.
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  • seekingknowledgeseekingknowledge 596 replies64 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 660 Member
    quicksilver, perhaps I was not clear. I was referring back to the original discussion. Liberal Arts degrees vs business degrees. I have watch several liberal arts students this year (one with all of the skills that have been mentioned as highly valuable) try to obtain a business internship this summer. The number of internships in our corporate world that required a business degree path just to be considered, amazed me. It took her out of the running for the vast majority of intership positions.

    If corporate america is truly seeking young people who possess excellent written and communication skills, and outstanding critical thinking skills, they need to open the door to more majors.

    I left engineers out of the equation for the points you made in your post.
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  • taxguytaxguy 6244 replies385 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,629 Senior Member
    shawbridge notes,"I found I was sometimes able to create significant amounts of value in transactions by posing questions like that and getting answers from the accounting guys. I'd want to get capital gains tax treatment, for example. They'd say, "You can't do that because of X." I'd say, "What if we called it a Y?" They'd say, "Oh, well if you call it a Y, then we don't have problems with X." "Can we get capital gains treatment then?" "Yes." I'd have to lead them through it step by step. So, they were extremely good at thinking within their very limited paradigm but extremely weak at thinking beyond it. "

    Response: I don't know who you spoke to, however, any good tax planning accountant should be able to think creatively. After all that is what tax planning is about. They shouldn't have to have you lead them down the primrose path. They should learn to recognize issues and evaluate potential possibilities. However, maybe I am thinking of the good tax planners out there,which may be fewer than I realized. Generally, however, kids out of college don't know much other than what they need to know for the CPA exam. They need the knowledge honed with experience to be able to really think creatively. Although I do recommend strong liberal arts training, it won't give them these creative tax and business skills. Only experience provides that type of training. The same can be said, however, for many professions such as legal etc.
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  • shawbridgeshawbridge 5683 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,736 Senior Member
    taxguy, you and I are in sync. The good ones are worth their weight in gold, but they are few and far between in my experience. When I dealt with the top tax guys at one of the Big X (8 then 7 then ... 3), they were terrific. But, their understudies, not always. And within the companies (the family office I worked for and then later at my corporate clients), I generally had to lead people down the primrose path (which was usually much longer than what I described above. When I moved to the Boston area, I asked around to find someone who was proactive and creative and didn't charge at the level of the top tax guys at the Big X, and he has been very helpful over the years.

    I further agree that the same is true of lawyers and others. To be really useful, they need to focus on the client's problem, not just telling you the tax code or the law. How can they use their knowledge to help the client solve his/her problem in an effective way?

    I also tend to agree with quicksilver that our country is going to need more people with technical skills, whether engineering, science, computer science, math, to continue to improve productivity at a rate faster than other countries (as that is where rising wealth comes from). We're currently importing lots of STEM talent and we seem not to be making use of a lot of that talent. UCBAlum posted a link showing that there were more science PhDs (bio, chem and physics, I think, and especially bio) than relevant jobs. So there is a skill mismatch between what is being produced and what is needed. From a productivity standpoint, I don't think more accountants are the thing we most need, but less so are anthropology and sociology BAs working in retail at anthropologie or Target. A lot of the jobs projected to be growing the fastest in the US are those that are said to be productivity-reducing (food service workers, hospice workers, etc.).

    Maybe the right answer for our grads is to move abroad for a while. I've suggest Singapore to my son.
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  • GoalsOrientedGoalsOriented 107 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    Taxguy:
    I am not going to argue with you there. Maybe that is true. However, people were also saying the same thing about MIS majors just recently before I graduated (and perhaps still are). This topic is also about Business majors in general, not just the Accounting majors. So essentially, to have a strong chance of getting a decent job straight out of college, one MUST major in Accounting if he /she wishes to major in Business? (no, don't worry, I am not taking it as advice to major in Accounting even if a person dislikes Accounting)

    Jonahrubin's post would even support that conclusion. Because it is very unlikely that any new college graduates, except those with a 3.5 or higher in Accounting, would be able to explain a cash flow statement.

    To everyone:
    I see the overseas competition and lack-of-STEM-workers excuses have entered the thread. Have you guys taken a look at DICE.com's career forums? Dice is the largest technology-jobs website in the world. Their forums are flooded with:

    a) People with years or decades of experience, including in the some of the most widely used and latest technology.
    b) People who are young new graduates ready for corporate training.
    c) People with Associate's degrees with specific training for on-the-job work.
    d) People with Bachelor's degrees in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Information Science/Technology/Systems, Management Information Systems, and even other degrees like Mathematics and Electrical/Mechanical Engineering.
    e) People with Master's degrees in the above.
    f) People with numerous technical certifications, including in some of the most widely used and latest technology.
    g) People with numerous combinations of all of the above.

    What do most of these people have in common? They are either unemployed and unable to find a job or very underpaid / underemployed (as in, cannot even afford a frugal, middle-class lifestyle) with little chance of progression.

    Come on guys, no way is there a "shortage" of STEM workers, despite what all the big international corporations and politicians like to claim.

    Jonahrubin:
    This is not an attack - I appreciate all advice and your insight into your hiring practices. However, my school is in a near-rural area that I have spent most of my life at, and an area that I have always disliked for numerous reasons. I worked VERY hard during school to get out of the area, and the business school has no connections to technology jobs (or even decent, non-accounting, regular business jobs) outside of the area. Even in the area, the best technology jobs are "data entry," "data processor," or "technology operator" at local plants and refineries. The local community college sends two-year degree graduates into the same jobs that my college's four-year graduates are getting. Regardless, I have stayed here long enough and am ready to relocate. So unfortunately, school connections, or the lack thereof, is not going to get me anywhere.

    (not directed at jonah)
    Does this mean my career ambitions are doomed? Were my goals unjust and incorrect because of where I was raised and to whom I was born? Has America already designated my place and position within society?

    The reason I ask, is because I get that impression from a lot of people on these forums (CollegeConfidential in general, not only the Business forum). It seems that according to a great many here, everyone that does not have a decent job, whether new graduate or not, rightfully does not have that job, due to some reason that is attributed to a fault of the unemployed individual.

    I researched intensively the supposed "paths to success" both before and during college and I fought through numerous obstacles, that most students did not have to fight, to follow relevant paths to my goals. At CollegeConfidential alone, everyone was saying "Business, Business, Business - except Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and HR" and "Technology, Technology, Technology." Well, my passion was both in business and technology, so why shouldn't I have majored in something that includes both, and according to everything I read both on CC and at numerous other sources, was the #2 in-demand major (MIS) in the #1 in-demand degree (business)?

    In a Computer Science Career Forum at my school, a Hewlett Packard manager practically said an MIS major was more in-demand than a CS major (without actually saying it). She described the kind of background and curriculum for which HP was supposedly looking for. She described MIS more so than Computer Science.

    Well I followed all the advice I could find up until this point, as best I could with the negative circumstances that surrounded me. I still accomplished far more than the vast majority of graduates. Now exactly what am I being told? I honestly do not know.

    That MIS is not considered STEM (despite the T in STEM standing for "technology")?
    Or that all the unemployed "correct definition" STEM graduates and workers deserve unemployment, and I would have been one of the few STEM graduates actually hired for some unknown reason?
    Or that when everyone was saying "business," mysteriously they were actually thinking "accounting-only" without saying it?

    And this is all my fault for not having known all of that?

    Something is not adding up around here.
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  • hkem123hkem123 674 replies40 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 714 Member
    It seems to me that all of these problems can be avoided if students just do their research on what companies hire from their respective schools & majors. If you cannot get that info during the application process, that's probably a bad sign, because the good undergrad b-schools give very detailed year-by-year info.
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  • CollectivSynergyCollectivSynergy 980 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 982 Member
    Goalsoriented - For whatever reason, many of the most esteemed/regular posters on CC have a background in accounting, and thus some of the career advice will have an accounting slant. It is true that accounting (and actuarial science) have probably the most linear and career-oriented tracks of any other major. But that's far from saying other majors are mashed into a giant primordial ooze where there's no differentiation (nobody's claimed that, but it seems like that's the impression you're getting).

    You seem like an intelligent, driven person that writes well. I don't think coming from a rural, less known school killed your career chances, but it certainly didn't help. If I had a hunch though, the culprit may be your resume, which is the most common stealthy application killer. Have you attended workshops?
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