For many students this is not such a difficult task. For example, if you have already declared yourself an accounting major, you will probably be looking for jobs that will use the skills you’re already acquiring. For others, the tasks of narrowing down the field is more difficult because they may have a broader range of interests or be less excited about the subject they are majoring in. Much like the child in the candy store or the new patron in a Chinese restaurant, these students need to line up their own abilities against an array of choices. Let’s look at the functional areas of business and their activities as a first step in narrowing the field.
- Finance: Students interested in finance go to work for investment banks, commercial banks, savings and loans corporations, and brokerage houses. You may find yourself, for example, in a two-year program at one of the investment banks, learning all about the business, or you may start as a teller at the local bank.
- Accounting: Students interested in accounting go to work for public accounting firms or work as controllers or financial planners in companies. Activities in these jobs can range from reviewing financial records or balance sheets to monitoring business plans.
- Marketing and sales: In marketing, students go to work for companies that sell consumer products, industrial products, high-technology products, or services (such as banking). Students may also work for advertising, marketing-research, and retail firms. In these fields, you could find yourself doing everything from selling a product to working on an advertising campaign.
- Human relations/personnel: Just about every organization you can think of from the smallest to the biggest has a personnel function. Students interested in this field may end up working in employee relations, training, or benefits administration.
- Operations Management: Students interested in operations or line management work for manufacturing, production, or distribution. You may work on anything from quality control to the coordination of integrated production systems.
- Communication: Those who choose careers in communication work for public relations firms, corporate communications departments, and advertising agencies. In this field you may find yourself writing press releases, analyzing corporate images, or working on the company newsletter.
- Management information systems: Students with specialized interests in MIS work for data-processing, time-sharing, and accounting firms. However, virtually all firms have MIS departments. In this field, you may work in the planning and design of computer-based systems or you may apply quantitative models to business decisions.
These are just some of fields that are based on the functional areas of the business school curriculum. Certainly, you can expand this list to include consulting, strategic planning, general management, and engineering. Whatever you list looks like, the important thing is to begin matching the attributes you gleaned from your own assessment of your abilities against the attributes one needs for a career in a particular field. For example, if Karen majored in accounting and is interested primarily in numbers, she may not want to pursue a career in personnel administration because that field requires people-management skills more than number-crunching skills.
Once you have narrowed the field, you are ready to begin looking for specific information on individual companies. Most business libraries at colleges and universities have a wealth of information and are good places to begin.