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Did you know that there is a way to work in business without obtaining a degree in Business Administration? Many people have started their careers with a degree in another field, me included. In my own life, after obtaining a liberal arts degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I spent my entire career in business, and was fortunate to experience success. In fact, people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Sam Walton, and Anita Roddick don’t have business degrees, and have succeeded in becoming CEOs of large companies. There are a whole host of unnamed entrepreneurs and small business owners around the world who have figured out how to work in business without obtaining a correlated degree.

Here are my top four ways to break into business.

  1. It starts with a vison for your life. If you have a vision, you can constantly POSITION yourself for your long-range goals by taking jobs that lead you there. When you know yourself and make a plan, you act more decisively, have less stress, and cope better with the progress of your career and the changes around you. The best way to start creating life vision is by imagining a picture of your ideal day. You wake up in the morning – where are you going to work? Do you leave to go into an office filled with people or are you in a tiny think tank with a small team? Is the environment intense and invigoration, relaxed and laid back, or creative and a bit crazy? Get your creative juices flowing by asking yourself these four questions:

Question 1: When am I in the zone?

Question 2: What work feels “easy”?

Question 3: What are my interests?

Question 4: What tasks do I gravitate towards in my current job(s)?

  1. Research potential careers in your chosen field(s). Now that you have designed your ideal lifestyle, it’s time to come up with a list of careers that have the potential to deliver it. You can do that by researching business careers and the corresponding industries. At the University Career Services websites we have several resources for you to use to help with your research. Please see my list of favorites below.



Strong Interest Inventory

What Can I Do With This Major?

  1. Assess your current skills and create a plan on how to build your skill gaps. Now that you have researched your chosen careers, take a look at the skills that it takes to succeed in the field. One of the easiest ways to assess your skills is to study a comprehensive list of skills and check the ones you have. Compare these to job descriptions for your field to see if you have what you need. Most job descriptions will list both required and preferred skills that employers are looking for in their candidates. After doing your own skills inventory you will have a clearer picture of your professional strengths, and you will know what skills you need to work on. It’s then time to take action!
  2. Gain relevant experience through experiential learning. As a University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill student, you have a number of opportunities available to you that will help you develop and enhance skills that you can transfer from one place to another over your lifetime.

Student Employment. Part-time employment offers the opportunity to gain new skills at the same time you are earning money! Through part-time employment you could obtain clerical, interpersonal, supervision, and customer-service skills. Holding a part-time job while in school can also help build time-management and organizational skills as you learn to balance multiple tasks and activities.

Leadership and Service Learning. Volunteering is another excellent way to obtain skills. Employers often seek candidates who show interest and have experience in serving their communities.

Organizations and Activities. Getting involved on campus is an important part of college life, and student organizations offer many opportunities for skill building. Holding an office in and providing leadership to an organization is a great way to develop important leadership and management skills. Some organizations may also directly relate to your chosen career and allow you the chance to gain professional experience.

Internships. Internship programs offer you the chance to integrate classroom theory with career-related work experience. Employers prefer candidate who have developed job-related skills and knowledge; internships are one of the best ways to gain that experience. In addition, internships expand your network of professionals in your field of interest, they enable you to explore and clarify your career goals, and they give you the opportunity to discover what skill areas you still need to acquire or refine.

Camille Mason

University Career Services

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