Every college student is going to end up working in the business world, even those who swore they never would. No, this does not mean that they will all work in offices or cubicles, or that they will work in business related fields.
What it does mean is that no matter what line of work somebody goes into, they interact in some way with business professionals. For example, a performance artist (someone as far away from a business career as you can get) will likely have to deal with accountants, venue owners, attorneys, business managers, etc. as they navigate the process of earning a living.
It is for these reasons that every college student should have a basic knowledge of the business world. The following 8 things are what college students should know about the business world as they prepare for the future.
1. There is no Such Thing as The Business World
He wrote a really catchy song, but John Maher got it wrong. There is definitely such thing as the real world. On the other hand, there is no such thing as the business world.
It’s true. It doesn’t really exist. Businesses and business people don’t operate as a single, like-minded entity. If you think of the business world as being full of people dressed in Brooks Brothers’ suits who are as buttoned down in their behaviors as they are in their dress, you are mistaken.
Instead of focusing on understanding or fitting into the ‘business world’, it is more important to understand the culture and expectations that apply to the industry, location, and specific organization that you will be working for. Remember that the work environment at a marketing firm on the West Coast will likely be much different than at a tech startup in the Midwest. Learn to swim in the waters you are in.
2. You Won’t be Managing or Administrating Much no Matter What Your Degree Says
Your degree might be in Business Management or Business Administration, but the truth is nobody is going to allow a new graduate take charge of much. Because of this, it is extremely important that you become very familiar with your chosen industry. This will let you develop a few practical skills that will make you marketable early on.
For example, can you sell, crunch numbers, navigate social media, or make data make sense? These hard skills can get you in the door. Later, you can start making waves with your ideas and your soft skills.
3. Never Trust Anybody Who Isn’t Respectful to The Cleaning Crew
Once you get out into the working world, you will notice that the vast majority of people are nice to you. That’s great, but how do you know who is being sincere? Who will be nice to you to your face, and then bad mouth you when they feel it might benefit them?
It’s simple. How do they treat people who have no potential for impacting their career or livelihood? How do they interact with cleaning and maintenance staff? How do they treat the server during lunch outings? Remember that you might get better treatment, but you shouldn’t expect better respect or credit from someone lacking basic respect for others.
4. You Have to Know The Right Way to Communicate
Do you send an email, pick up the phone, head over to someone’s cubicle for a quick face to face, or call a meeting? Understanding the best method of communicating in a given situation is can be complex.
A good rule of thumb is that complex or sensitive matters should be handled in person, or at least over the phone. Meetings should reserve for complex matters that require input from multiple at once. Finally, don’t be afraid to use technology such as video conferencing.
5. You Also Need to Have Sharp Communications Skills
There is no getting around it. In business, you simply have to be a good communicator. There is literally no position where good verbal and written communications skills are not an asset. Whether you are composing an email, writing a memo, or preparing a presentation, you must be able to communicate in a way that is appropriate, understandable, and accurate.
Get academic help to improve your writing skills, to make yourself feel more comfortable speaking in public, and to use technology to improve the way that you communicate with others.
6. Making a Commodity of Yourself is a Bad Idea
Hard skills are important. As mentioned above, they will open up opportunities for you. On the other hand, if all you have to offer an organization is a technical or other hard skill, you are always at risk.
If they ever move away from that, your usefulness to them no longer exists. It’s also important to keep in mind that when an organization eyes people for promotions or leadership positions they will be focused on soft skills. Your ability to learn new things, to lead, to work well with others, to negotiate are what will drive your upward trajectory.
7. Relationship Building is Key
Work hard to establish great relationships with your employees, customers, and coworkers. It can make a big difference in the way your career trajectory plays out. Try doing some of the followings to create good will:
● Remember Everybody’s Name
● Send Thank You Notes
● Acknowledge Birthdays And Other Important Milestones
● Connect With People on Social Media
● Be Generous And Public With Praise And Giving Credit
More and more often, companies are filling positions using LinkedIn and recommendations from employees and others. The more positive associations you create, the more likely your name is going to come up when an opportunity matches your talents.
8. Be Prepared to Interact With And Work Productively With a Variety of People
While some college students do pick schools that will take them out of their comfort zones and introduce them to new belief systems, cultures, etc., many do not. Instead, the choose schools where the culture largely matches what is familiar to them.
This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as long as the college student recognizes that in the business world, they won’t have that option. It’s simply impossible to make it in the business world without having the ability to relate to and interact respectfully with people who may not share your background or belief systems.
ConclusionNo matter what field you go into, understanding the nuances of navigating the business world are key to your success. This means getting learning to communicate, figuring out how to read people, bringing something valuable to the table, and honing your soft skills.