Expert Contributor: Pierre-Renauld Tremblay
Academic, Financial and Professional Tools You Need to Succeed
Between 2014 and 2015, nearly 358,000 jobs requiring a business management degree were posted in the United States. Of that number, 85 percent required at least a bachelor’s degree. Business school is one of the top degree choices for students in the country. The following guide was created to help savvy business students, regardless of their educational level, access resources to help them excel in school and flourish in the business world. A special section catering to a wide range of student populations is also included, with individualized resources for varied demographics.
Resources for Special Interest Business Students
- International Students
- Students with Disabilities
- LGBTQ Students
- Women in Business
- Homeless & Low-Income Students
- Veteran Students
Aside from the typical pressures of academia, international business students also contend with new teaching and learning styles in an unfamiliar place. These resources are designed to alleviate some of that stress.
- Communication Workshops Open to both domestic and international students, resources like the one offered at Stanford help students build their confidence in communicating – be it oral, visual or written. Professionals leading these classes also help students polish their skills and avoid common misusages from using English as a second language.
- iVoice Translator Pro International business students have enough to worry about without language barriers. iVoice is a voice translation application that can listen to and identify 33 languages and produce a text version in the student’s native tongue. This app is perfect for students to use when following along with a professor’s lecture in class.
- International Student Offices While often providing general services, these offices often work with other departments on campus, including the business school and career services. International students may be able to work with their international student office to get business-specific assistance and career advice when needed.
- International Student Ambassadors Programs such as NYU’s Stern School of Business offer profiles of their international student advisors. These pages offer insider information about what it’s like to be an international student with in the business department while also answering common questions about transition and different teaching styles.
Students with Disabilities
Many students with disabilities elect to pursue business degrees, and there are many resources out there to help them succeed in whatever path they choose to pursue. The resources listed below represent a range of assistance available.
- Business Plan Scholarship Fit Small Business created this $1,000 cash scholarship specifically for students with disabilities pursuing business. Those eligible must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program and have written a business plan. To apply, students should submit a 500 to 1,000 word essay about what they learned from completing the plan.
- Internships for Students with Disabilities The Viscardi Center created the Emerging Leaders Internship Program for students with disabilities looking to gain experience in a business environment. They must be currently enrolled in college and have some type of disability. The project is funded by UPS and overseen by the National Business & Disability Council.
- Job Resources Northeastern University’s Career Development office provides a comprehensive listing of national websites that post jobs specifically for students with disabilities. Some of the websites posted are specific to a company or industry, while others aggregate listings from across the country.
- People with disabilities starting a business The Small Business Association has compiled a list of helpful resources for students or graduates with disabilities who aspire to start and run their own business. Aside from questions to consider, the resource also offers online seminars specific to this population and links to other helpful services.
Resources and organizations aimed at LGBTQ college students can support those students during their undergraduate or graduate business educations. Some of the best organizations serving LGBTQ college students and their allies are listed below:
- Reaching Out Reaching Out MBA was created specifically to empower and support LGBTQ students pursuing Master’s in Business Administration. The organization educates students about the challenges and opportunities of being an LGBTQ MBA student, inspires them to be leaders, and builds connections among other LGBTQ MBA students.
- LGBT Business School Statistics Prospective business students who want to know how many LGBTQ students are pursuing an MBA at one of the 38 schools of business listed can use this helpful research to ascertain if the school is a good fit for them. This research is updated often, and currently shows that approximately three percent of MBA students identify as LGBTQ.
- Out for Business This LGBTQ student club at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business serves as an excellent example of a LGBTQ resource. In addition to advocacy measures, the organization also hosts regular events, such as MBgAY, their annual charity drag show for LGBTQ business students.
- Out for Undergrad This volunteer-based organization works to ensure all undergraduate LGBTQ students reach their full academic and professional potential by hosting conferences throughout the country. In addition to engineering, marketing and tech conferences, the group also hosts an annual business event.
Women in Business
The National Women’s Business Council reports women currently own 36.3 percent of all American businesses, an increase of nearly eight percent since 2007. The resources listed below have been curated to help female business students succeed.
- American Business Women’s Association This professional body brings together businesswomen from across the country to network and empower each other in their career pursuits. Some of the benefits include access to an annual conference and a career connections portion of the website. Recent graduates are encouraged to join.
- The National Association of Professional Women As the largest professional networking association for professional women, the NAPW offers myriad career services to their members. The group offers professional networking opportunities, networking events, career assistance resources, and educational tools to help women continue building their business knowledge and skills.
- Women in Business Scholarship Zonta International provides 12 scholarships of up to $7,000 internationally and 32 district/region scholarships of up to $1,00 each year to women undertaking business degrees. The Jane M. Klausman scholarship is available to any woman, regardless of age who is undertaking a degree related to business.
- Women’s Student Association Located at the Harvard Business School, this type student-driven group exists at many different college campuses throughout the country. The version at Harvard includes weekly meetings, a conference drawing together dynamic women in business, and a series of talks throughout the academic year.
Homeless and Low-Income Students
More than 58,000 students marked that they were homeless on the 2013 FAFSA form, and approximately 11,600 of those were students majoring in business or a related field. The resources below help students focus on their education rather than worrying about a bed.
- CARE Centers Kennesaw State University provides an exceptional example of institutions providing assistance to students who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. Some of their services include year-round dormitories, food assistance, scholarships, and access to basic personal care items and bed linens.
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth NAEHCY provides a comprehensive resource for students experiencing homelessness called the “College Access and Success Toolkit.” This handbook answers many of the common questions students may have about attending school while dealing with homelessness and highlights numerous helpful resources.
- National Center for Homeless Education This nonprofit organization works with homeless youth and students to help them find housing and other necessities – including food and clothing – while in school. While this is a national group, students can research their area to see if a similar regional resource exists.
- Scholarships for Homeless Students The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless offers a variety of scholarships to homeless students who are able to excel academically against the odds. While the majority of these are based in Illinois, students seeking this type of funding can research their area to see if a similar program exists.
After returning from military service, veterans have been out of a classroom setting and may wish to find likeminded individuals who are experiencing the same transition. Or they may wonder about financial assistance available to them. These resources provide help for those topics and more.
- Application Fee Refund Did you know that some schools offer an application fee refund for individuals applying who have previously served in the military? NYU’s Stern School of Business highlights this growing trend within college admissions. Be sure to check if your prospective school offers this discount.
- Student Veterans of America This professional organization has chapters all over the country for students with prior military service seeking a governing body. The group also provides scholarships, a national conference, and helpful transition guides for students entering academia after active service.
- Yellow Ribbon Program Also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, this service provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs covers tuition and fees for a public school in which the veteran is a resident. If the student wants to go to a private institution, the bill can help lower those costs dramatically.
- Veterans in Business Association Groups like the one at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business are designed provide support and guidance to veterans enrolled in a business program while also helping them to build knowledge and learn transferable skills that will serve them well in the business world after graduation.
General Business Student Resources
Academic institutions provide invaluable resources to help students succeed, both while in school and once they enter the workforce. These resources are important because they are included in the cost of tuition and are often difficult to access once outside academia. The following resources highlight offerings that all students should take advantage of while in school.
- Communication Centers
As seen in the offerings of Western Michigan University, communication centers help business students of all academic levels strengthen and perfect their communication skills, be they spoken, visual or written. Professionals in these offices may help students improve their resumes or practice for an upcoming job interview.
- Professional Development Opportunities
Business students at Central Washington University are provided access to professional development services ranging from business case studies and guest speakers to the CWU business club and a campus-based Shark Tank initiative. Many schools offer similar opportunities, so students should do their research.
- Academic and Career Planning Offices
Offices such as the one on Penn State’s campus assist business students in preparing for their future, helping them select classes suited to their aspirations and offering career advice. Some of the services available may include help setting up a LinkedIn profile or finding an academic advisor that is well-suited to the student’s area of interest within business.
- Global Initiatives
The University of Colorado at Boulder offers business students of varying degree levels the opportunity to gain experience in the global market through a number of enriching experiences. Whether lasting a few weeks of an entire academic year, programs such as these encourage international networks and transferable skillsets while still in school.
Financial Aid Resources
Students already working at a business may be able to take advantage of a tuition reimbursement program to have some – or even all – of their academic costs covered. Deloitte is an excellent example of a graduate school assistance program. The Washington Post also highlighted the top companies for this form of financial assistance.
- Programmatic Scholarships
Many Schools, including the University of Colorado at Denver, offer scholarships exclusively for students enrolled in business degrees. These are often specific to both undergraduate and graduate students, and are typically based on merit. Because they are internal to the school, competition is less fierce than those offered nationally.
- Veteran’s Educational Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the VEAP program for military veterans. The VA matches contributions from the veteran on a two for one basis, and funding can be used for a variety of different educational offerings and degree levels.
- External Business Scholarships
The scholarships offered by the Government Finance Officers Association are but a few examples of the myriad opportunities for outside funding available to business students. Whether available as a general scholarship or pertaining to specific topics within business – such as finance, marketing, human resources, or entrepreneurship – this type of funding is widely available.
Although professional bodies and career services are valuable throughout the lifespan of a career, these resources can be especially beneficial for helping recent graduates build their network and launch their professional lives. As a bonus, many also offer discounted student memberships.
- American Accounting Association
In operation for a century, AAA represents the largest number of accountants working in academic. For students looking to connect with bona fide leaders in the field, AAA offers an area where members can interact. They also provide helpful advice on students considering higher levels of business degrees, including accounting.
- American Finance Association
The AFA was created in 1939 and serves as the authoritative academic organization for the study of financial economics. In addition to providing the Journal of Finance, the association also hosts an annual meeting and has a career board available. There are also a number of student initiatives available.
- National Association of Business Management Professionals
NABMP works to bring together professionals in the business management industry to strengthen networking opportunities and ethics within the field. In addition to standard membership benefits, the association also offers a professional certification program and training modules. They also send a newsletter with updates about the business management field.
- Business Professionals of America
With a specific focus on students aspiring to careers in business management, office administration, and information technology, BPA offers a range of services to help current students and recent graduates reach their potential in the business world. Career services, competitions, job postings, and leadership training are just some of the resources available.
Business News Resourcess
It is important for business students to stay abreast of news and events that impact the economy, financial markets and daily business operations. These resources provide details about the latest headlines, conferences, and training programs relevant to business students and professionals.
- The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal can help students maximize their education by providing stories about the events and people shaping the worlds of business, finance, politics and technology. The Journal offers up to a 75 percent discount off its print and online subscription plans for students. Find out more about student subscriptions at http://student.wsj.com/.
- The Economist
This online and print publication provides authoritative commentary on business and financial topics, along with articles about other worldwide events in areas of news, politics, technology, and science. Students have access to a special discount and a starting price of $1 per week for a print and online subscription. More details can be found here.
- CNN Money
An offshoot of CNN, this digital news resource covers a variety of business and financial topics, ranging from stock markets and personal finances to small businesses and general business topics. An added bonus to cash-strapped students, all content on CNN Money is accessible free of charge.
- Entrepreneur Magazine
Offered in both print and digital formats, Entrepreneur Magazine is a great resource for students considering starting their own business. The publication covers the latest trends in areas of online businesses, franchising, starting and growing a business, helpful technologies, and marketing strategies.
Though it’s easy to immediately think of an MBA when someone mentions business school, students studying business accounted for more than 20 percent of the total undergraduate population as of the 2011-2012 academic year. Use the resources below to make the most of this beneficial academic path.
- Business Clubs
Whether a student is interested in marketing, financial literacy, accounting or operations, many institutions – such as UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School – have a variety of organizations and clubs to help students find their niche. Oftentimes, these will also include demographic-specific opportunities, such as women in business or aspiring minority business leaders.
- Grant Writing Undergraduate Opportunities
The American Grant Writers’ Association offers undergraduate student memberships for those who are looking to work as grant writers and/or administrators. This membership gives students entry to all of the same benefits as professional members – including access to professionals already working in the grant writing field.
- Mentor Programs
Programs such as those offered at Portland State University connect undergraduates with professionals currently working in business. Students not only gain a professional connection; they also can pick their brains on what they’ve learned since being out of college. Whether discussing a recent item in business news or asking about different career paths, mentor programs are a great resource.
- Undergraduate Business Council
Providing the opportunity to develop professional skills while in school, Business Councils such as the one available at the University of Texas help students learn about business proceedings and responsibility. Those interested must complete an application process; once approved to join, they must attend weekly meetings, complete office hours, and attend events.
Whether completing an MBA or other master’s or graduate level business program, students in these degrees have numerous resources at their fingertips. If a student has chosen to complete graduate level coursework, they are often motivated to succeed, making these opportunities even more valuable for their future endeavors.
- Association of MBAs
As the only professional organization dedicated to helping MBA students an graduates connect with each other and potential employers, AMBA works in more than 110 countries to accomplish their mission. Aside from advocating for MBA students and degree holders, AMBA also hosts a variety of events and shares valuable research about the field.
- Financial Training Centers
Programs such as the Huizenga Financial Trading Center at the University of Tampa helps students who are interested in working in investments get a real-world view of what it’s like to interact with the stock market and investors. Students are given a portfolio of stocks and bonds with the task of maximizing returns while balancing risk.
- Graduate Assistantships
Master’s and business level students can often take part in a program allowing them to work alongside their professors to develop courses or complete research. Aside from receiving educational funding toward their degree, these experiences help business students build deeper bonds with their teachers while also exposing them to the academic side of business.
- Graduate Student Organizations
As in undergrad, master’s and doctoral business students can often take advantage of campus clubs and organizations centered on business. The options available at Fordham University are quite typical of other institutions, with options ranging from the accounting and tax society to women in business.
Advice from the Expert: Taking Advantage of Resources
How can students go about finding resources tailored to business and business programs that will help them succeed in the real world?
Like making any informed decision, it is imperative that you get a variety of opinions about each and every business program. Do you read only one review before buying a car? Probably not. My recommendation is to start with a search engine and to get creative with what you’re looking for. Do you require information about a specific concept? If you have questions about it, you can be sure thousands of others have had questions before. Moreover, there are significant amounts of resources and publications that are specifically tailored for people in the business world - think about Bloomberg, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and so on. Business students will be in that world soon enough. Why not let it help you with your studies? Tapping into these established resources is a perfect way to start studying “reality” while still in a classroom setting.
What resources did you take advantage of while in school?
Schools offer these resources and nobody seems to use them. When I was in school, I took advantage of every single resource available. I regularly spoke with teachers. I exchanged class notes. I read significantly detailed books about a wide variety of topics, just to get a better understand of how the business world works. I tutored those younger than me to re-sharpen my skills. I socialized with my colleagues. Now, I do business with some of them. I went to see an academic advisor at least 15 times, to refine the career path I wanted to take. I asked for a coffee meeting with a ton of highly-respected people, just to get an opportunity to pick their brain.
With your knowledge of the business world, how would you suggest for students to combine resources and improve their overall business education?
Think of it as a three-dimensional spider net. One topic is interrelated to numerous other ones. There are both higher and underlying layers. You might learn a concept on one layer - but have no experience in another. You might be an expert with financial statements, but have never negotiated a contract. You might know how to find and hire a great employee, but you don’t know how to manage an ERP. The key is to combine both your theoretical and practical knowledge with a sense of curiosity. Ask as many questions as you can, and gain as much exposure and experience as you can. You can never stop learning.