What does a business major DO for a career?

<p>I'm a junior in high school. I don't plan on deciding exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life right this moment, but I want to hopefully explore some internship/research/volunteer opportunities this summer. The three fields I am most strongly considering are law, medicine and business. The thing is, and this is somewhat embarrassing, I really do not know what a business graduate does once they graduate. I've done a little research, and I've found things like "finance" and "marketing", terms which mean nothing to me. I am fairly ambitious and whatever I do, I plan on being among the best. </p>

<p>So what do those whom receive degrees from top business schools go on to do? For example, a talented doctor can go on to specialize in a high-demand field such as dermatology and open up their own office. A talented lawyer can start up his/her own practice. But I never really understood what options a top business graduate has as far as career paths go.</p>

<p>Any response, no matter how condescending, is greatly appreciated!</p>

<p>The top business undergrads generally do not actually major in business; they go to top-tier undergrads and major in whatever they want. (The major exception is Wharton.) From there, most of them go into one of two fields.</p>

<p>Investment banking is, essentially, investing other people's money for them, making money for them, and taking a cut of it. This is where the big money is, but it's also extremely time consuming.</p>

<p>Consulting is basically lending an outside opinion to situations. You will sign on with a consulting firm like McKinsey or Bain. They'll take care of your training -- in theory, anyway -- and then assign you out to other companies. For example, you might be assigned to a project with United, where you need to assess their costs and expenses and find ways to cut those down.</p>

<p>Extremely selective jobs -- so selective that I don't know anybody who's gone straight into it -- are in so-called "private equity." There are two kinds of PE. Leveraged buyouts essentially involve buying out a failing company at a cheap price (it is, after all, failing), turning it around, and selling it at a higher price. Venture capital involves finding entrepreneurs with good ideas, helping fund and guide their business, and then selling your interest at a higher price. For example, a young group of promising scientists form a group; you assess their talent and decide that with a little business guidance and (mostly) startup money, they're going to be the next great biotech company. You give them the money, and they give you 50% of their company. If you're right -- or, at the very least, if you can trick the next buyer into thinking you're right -- then that company is going to skyrocket in value and you can then sell your 50% for much, much more than the initial money you invested. </p>

<p>All of what I've described are extremely theoretical ideals. Others are in a better position to address the actualities of the experience.</p>

<p>The reason "business" as an academic field is so vague is that you could end up in any of dozens of roles in any of hundreds of industries. (By comparison, a law student will usually become a lawyer in the legal services industry, and a medical student will usually become a doctor in the health care industry -- with of course exceptions for both.)</p>

<p>It might be more helpful for you to think about the role you'd like to play in your career -- for example a business major can be a specialist in marketing, accounting, human resources & organization management, or e-commerce (just to name a few). Simultaneously, think about industries that interest you -- for example, Hollywood, pharmaceuticals, automotive, computer software, or publishing.</p>

<p>Now, you don't need to be a "business" major in college to serve in a business role. A lot of marketing people majored in psychology, anthropology, or sociology, and a lot of financial analysts at Wall Street banks majored in non-business fields like chemistry, philosophy, or math. What a business major gives you is a broad preparation to take on a number of business roles in a wide variety of industries. For the most part, a liberal arts major will give you the same thing. (An exception is accounting, where you pretty much have to major in it in undergrad, and take some graduate courses, to work and advance in the field.)</p>

<p>One thing you should realize is that there is a business side to any industry, including medicine and law. For example, hospital administrators are performing a business function. Many law firms are large enough that they need professional human resources managers. Pharmaceutical firms and health care companies like Johnson & Johnson need professional marketers, project managers, and accountants just as much as they need chemists and engineers. And so on.</p>

<p>You might want to go to your school library and/or guidance counselor's office and check out a few books that might help you:</p>

<p>--The College Board's <em>Book of Majors</em> describes college majors, and has a whole section of different business majors (including a general "business" major, but also specialities like finance and marketing). While the focus of this book is what you'll study in college if you major in these fields, the connection b/t major and careers is explored.</p>

<p>--Vault Guides cover various industries in depth, and usually make it clear which jobs within those industries are for "business" type versus for specialists from non-business fields. (For example, a business major will probably not get a job as a newspaper reporter, but they might get a job selling ad placements for that newspaper.)</p>

<p>--Depending on your school, the guidance office might have a subscription to a careers website (e.g. MyRoad or ACT's DISCOVER).</p>