Tips to help graduates decide what to do with their business degree – and how to turn it into a full-time job
Business and management degrees are a popular choice for students across different countries. There are good reasons for that, too. After all, “business” is a broad term and contains many different subjects. It’s perfect when you’re just out of high school and not sure what exactly you’re passionate about, yet. Right?
Still, in your last year of university, it’s all about turning your business degree with its variety into your first real job. So, let’s have a look at what companies are looking for in business students.
Typical entry-level jobs for business graduates
The job post data of the past 1.5 years on Graduateland shows for which fields companies like to recruit business students: Marketing & communications, operations, business & strategy, accounting & finance as well as sales & client care are by far the ones where recruiting is most active.
Marketing & communications are quite easy to get an internship or student job in, but when it comes to landing a full-time job operations actually offers more opportunities for business graduates.
Looking at research into what pays best on an entry-level, it’s the finance & accounting majors as well as business consulting that come out ahead (that is quite consistent across different countries).
Trainee positions soar in popularity, but competition to get into a graduate scheme is fierce: there are often several 100 applicants for 1 open spot (despite companies offering more and more of these positions). Good alternatives are:
- project manager
- junior sales rep
- business analyst
– basically, anything that will enable you to get a good overview of how organizations work.
Skills that get business students hired
The upside of a business degree is its broad range of use, but since it’s so common graduates need to do a little more to stand out to recruiters. More often, it’s internships or relevant student jobs that you have taken during your studies that set apart the right candidates – mainly because it’s assumed that they already know a little about how a business works on the inside.
A recent survey by the Financial Times showed what companies see as the most important skills for MBA students: While people skills and problem-solving skills were at the top of the list, highly specialized skills were less in the focus.
Overall, graduate recruiters have shifted their focus to assess the soft skills of potential junior colleagues (as specific knowledge acquired at university is usually outdated between 3 and 5 years). According to a 2017 study by LinkedIn, the soft skills most in demand for junior positions are:
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
- Social skills
So, be prepared to show these skills in the job application process (some hiring manager will want to tease them out of you with behavioral interviews). The best way is to have a couple of examples from your work and study experience ready that you can outline.
Corporate job or startup – what’s for you?
As a business graduate, you can find interesting experiences in both: big established multinationals as well as small-sized companies that operate in a niche. The first offers a large network and structured career paths. Startups are often faster and may be more inclined to give you wide-ranging responsibility at the start of your career.
Wherever you start your career, you never know where the next step may take you or where the next opportunity lies. The more and different experiences you can collect, the better (that also holds in case you decide to start your own business at some point).