The email below is from one of the students who attended that speech. Although he is majoring in Business, he isn’t sure which area of business he wanted to concentrate on. I chatted with him for a few minutes after the talk and he followed up with this email to dig a little deeper on the topic of picking an area of focus. After doing a little research about the undergrad program at Kelley, I think I came up with some pretty good advice for him.
Without further delay, on to the email…
I just wanted to thank you again for coming to present to my peers and I in the Kelley Living Learning Center. Your insight was very helpful. I do have one more question I would like to ask that I was unable to ask during the presentation. What advice would you give to someone who truly doesn’t know what area of business he would like to study? This is the situation I am in now and any thoughts would help.
P.S. I was the student who came up to you at the end of the presentation and talked to you. I live about 20 minutes outside of Washington D.C. in Potomac, MD. Hope that helps remember who I am.
Thanks for hitting me up. I definitely remember you because I remember making a reference to the bridge on Rt. 301 that goes from Charles County, MD to my hometown…at least, I think it was you that I said that to. If not, my bad on remembering incorrectly.
Now, on to your question…I just took a look through the Kelley undergrad website, specifically the section on majors (http://www.kelley.iu.edu/ugrad/academics/majors.cfm) and here are a few things to think about:
- It looks like you don’t have to pick a major until the end of your Sophomore year, so, even though it’s good to know what you want to major in early, it isn’t exactly necessary. You’ve got 3 more semesters to sample different things and see if something sparks a specific interest within you.
- When I spoke to some of your classmates, I learned that many of them were considering 2-3 majors within the undergrad business school, which surprised me. This is something that you could do too. You could start off with a single “anchor” major in mind earlier on and then think about adding another secondary major in a year or so when you have more clarity about what interests you.
- A great option as an “anchor” major is Management because it’ll give you an academic foundation that will prepare you to manage and lead people. You’ll gain an understanding of how organizations work and, more importantly, how to manage the people within those organizations. These are really important concepts that most leaders don’t understand well. Also, no matter what area of business you decide to focus on career-wise, the ultimate goal is to move upward and eventually get into a management/leadership position. The Management major would give you a fantastic starting point for that.
- As I think about the different concepts in business, a few shortcut characterizations come to mind: Accounting is the language of business; Strategy is the way to think through what you’re going to say and do in business; Marketing is the way to understand who you’re talking to in business and to figure out the right way to engage with that party; and Communications is the way that you actually “speak” to the parties with whom you’ll engage. Of course, there are other business concepts that matter, but, for me, those are the core ones. Why am I mentioning this? Well, between now and when you choose your major (and even after making that choice), you’d be putting yourself in a great position if you take as many courses in these areas as possible because they are foundational concepts in the business world. For example, if you end up wanting to major in Public Policy Analysis, courses in Accounting will help you in understanding the financial statements that underlie policy issues, courses in Marketing should help you to understand the constituents that policy affect and the issues about which they’re concerned, and Communications courses will help you to figure out how to interact with those constituents and how to convey your messages in the right way.