Few career paths are as versatile as a career in business, and whether your primary goal is to make a lot of money, to always have engaging work or to help others, you can do that. With a degree and a background in business, you can climb to the top ranks of a multinational corporation, run your own tech startup, take over the family business or advise people from marginalized backgrounds or in developing countries about how to best run their small companies. Do you hope to eventually pursue a career in law or politics? Business is a great foundation for just about any type of career. It will give you a grasp on the basics of accounting, management, marketing and other areas that are critical to almost every type of organization. And if you’re just starting to consider going to college, there’s a lot you can do to prepare.
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Do A Self-Inventory
This isn't something you'll do once. It's something you should do continually throughout your career because you will grow and change over time. If you don't periodically take a personal inventory and review where you are and where you want to be, you may look up one day and find you're stagnating in a position that you used to think was perfect. Think hard about the kinds of things that make you happy. As mentioned above, you can do a lot of different things in business, and one doesn't necessarily exclude the other. After all, some of the world's wealthiest people are also some of the greatest philanthropists.
Thinking about your values and what you want to accomplish in your career is important, but it's also important to consider your temperament. For example, do you thrive in a fast-paced, challenging, ever-changing environment, or do you prefer things to be quieter and more predictable? If you love dealing with numbers and the former is true for you, you might thrive as an investment banker. If the latter is true, working as an accountant in a relatively conservative industry, such as insurance, might suit you. The key is to keep in mind that what appeals to you now may not in 10 years, so always be open to change.
Get Your Degree
Getting an undergraduate degree is an important step. Don't worry about an MBA just yet. In certain fields, it will be beneficial to get one eventually, but this is not true of every career path, and anyway, you should have some work experience before you embark on an MBA. For now, just focus on your bachelor's. One of the first things you'll need to figure out is how to pay for it. There should be a number of different resources available to you. You could apply for federal aid and for scholarships. You could also take out a student loan from a private lender. One thing that makes these loans particularly helpful is that they are not based on need, unlike federal loans. You can use a student loan repayment calculator to calculate what your payments will be like after you graduate.
You can spend some time taking classes before you decide what area you want to major in. Some people know exactly what they want to do. They are absolutely dedicated to a career in marketing or finance. Others may be uncertain. Accounting, business administration or even a different type of degree, such as economics or math, are all fairly versatile. You can always pick up skills on the job if you end up working in an area that is different from what you majored in.
Work On Soft Skills
You need to develop your soft skills as well. This includes such skills as communication, leadership and empathy. Some people may say that these cannot be taught, but this is not true. Just because some people may seem to be natural leaders or communicators doesn't mean that you can't learn how to do these things well. College is the perfect time to start working on these skills. If you're still in high school, you can even do it then. Communications classes can improve your speaking and writing skills. Getting involved in student organizations can help you become a better leader. Just talking to different types of people, especially people who are different from you, can help you improve your empathy and communication.
Networking is a soft skill in and of itself, or perhaps it is more accurate to say it is a combination of several soft skills. However, you look at it, it deserves its own category because it truly is the heart and soul of business success. The most successful people are not those who burn their bridges behind them everywhere they go but those who create relationships and build referral networks that can last a lifetime. For many people, this begins while still in school. You can network with fellow ambitious students and with your professors. Your school might be able to put you in touch with an alumni network or pair you with a mentor. Practice going to business events, seminars and conferences and getting to know people. Listen to what they have to say to you with interest.
Online offers another great networking opportunity. Follow the industry and thought leaders that you most admire on social media. Some of them are very generous with their time, answering questions from others, but you can learn even from those who are not. In both online and real-life interactions, try listening to people more than you talk.