5 reasons nonbusiness students need to understand business

  • May 12, 2021
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

There are all different kinds of people in the word, with all different kinds of interests—and that’s good. The world needs mathematicians, artists, scientists and engineers as much as it needs financial analysts, marketers and entrepreneurs. And when it comes to career prospects, it only helps mathematicians, artists, scientists and engineers to understand business fundamentals. Here’s why:

  • Most every career path intersects with business. Behind every great artist, sports team, restaurant or medical startup is someone (or, more likely, a team) looking after the business side of things. You may be the one on stage, on the field, in the kitchen or in the R&D lab, but understanding how the organization runs helps you add value and will provide growth opportunities.
  • Business teaches strategic thinking and problem-solving. Every career journey includes crossroads and bumps in the road. If you are practiced in strategic thinking and problem-solving, you’ll be more comfortable handling whatever comes your way.
  • To get a job, you need to know how to market yourself. A bit of a business background gives you insight into your strengths. You’ll better articulate how you can add value to an organization, and any way to distinguish yourself in a crowed job market is always a good thing.
  • Most people change careers at least once in their lives. Gone are the days when you get a gold watch for 25 years of service to a company. Today, people change jobs and regularly—as much as 10 to 15 times over the life of their career. And many also change their actual career path. Understanding business comes in handy and expands your options.
  • Workers with transferable skills appeal to potential employers. When deciding among job candidates, employers want look for people with more skills to get the most for their money. With all other things being equal, knowledge of business might just tip the scales in your favor.

If you’re ready to add foundational business knowledge to your studies, WashU Olin offers the Gateway to Business summer program for high school and college students.

High schoolers can earn college credit while developing a general understanding of business, leadership, teamwork skill building and career preparation. The curriculum covers creative problem solving, experiential learning, professional communications, career strategies and the creation of a professional development plan. Students choose from two tracks—entrepreneurship and sports management.

College students, on the other hand, can earn a Gateway to Business certificate as they develop a solid understanding of business to complement their nonbusiness undergrad studies. The six-hour certificate is a deeper dive into business fundamentals. Participants strengthen their leadership abilities, business communication skills, and personal and professional development, and walk away with a professional development plan. The second half of the certificate focuses on entrepreneurship, examining real-world examples of founding, operating and exiting a startup, how to think like an entrepreneur, and potential career paths.

If you want an overall understanding of business, the Gateway to Business course and certificates are a smart strategy. The certificate program starts May 24 and runs through July 15. The course for high school students starts June 28 and runs through August 5. Find out more on WashU Olin’s website.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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