Business courses give students confidence to get high-flying jobs

If a business executive is someone who knows something about everything, business studies courses are magpie courses, borrowing something from everyone, incorporating psychology, politics, economics. You name it, they've nicked it and applied it to examining and comparing business practices, the multifarious cogs and wheels that drive the global economy.

Mixing a fascination with the cogs and wheels of business and an interest in the broader world is what the best business studies courses, like those at St Andrews, are all about. As a social science business studies falls between the posts of arts and sciences, borrowing bits from both, so you can do management as an MA with politics or poetry or as a BSc with maths or biology.

"That breadth brings a different dimension and educational health to the finalists," says Peter McKiernan, director of management courses at St Andrews. "It means our graduates are better at critical thinking, at going into organisations from a consultancy or audit side and asking probing questions."

George Mendes, 22, will be doing this next year with a job in Accenture's strategy unit. "I've loved it, the opportunity to dip across and do different things," says Mendes, a BSc economics and management student at St Andrews.

And the management itself does not just mean four years studying box factories. Mendes has looked at sustainable development and scenario thinking, an odd sort of futurology. "St Andrews really focuses on building students who can think for themselves rather than a factory of managers," he says. "Teaching approaches to management rather than just equipping them with the tools."

If however, you weren't a budding business guru as a school leaver, you've not necessarily missed the business studies boat. It is sometimes criticized as a subject for providing "one size fits all" models. One size would certainly not fit all, however, at the Open University.

"We must have one of the widest student bases of any university, from 18-year-olds to the retired," says Mike Green, senior lecturer of business studies at the OU. "We don't tell anyone how to manage, we say 'here are some ideas', so students can marry their own experience with a framework to think about that experience, that's pretty valuable."

This philosophy of reflective practice works particularly well with students who work at the same time, says Green, taking ideas back to work, seeing how they play, and bringing that back to monthly tutorials.

That does not have to be management experience. Business studies courses are not just for high-flyers. Richard Okoduwa, 36, was working as a security guard when he started the course four years ago. Six months after graduating he is now a management trainee with Oxfam. "It's been very, very useful," he says. "I've turned my life around. I became so much more confident. That confidence is invaluable."

Even high-flyers with bags of confidence have something to learn. The MBA, Masters in Business Administration, is the gold standard of the business élite and the UK's most prestigious place to graduate from is Oxford University's Saïd Business School.

MBA courses are, mostly, much of a muchness. The students are what make the difference. Saïd's students come from 49 countries, but all have one thing in common. "We don't want people who will simply soak up, but people who will contribute too," says Professor Roy Westbrook, who heads the school. "So you get the benefit of their experience and diversity in class, you get a great discussion."

"It's a really great mixing and meeting pot of different cultures, viewpoints and strategies," says Jennifer Segal, an MBA student at Saïd. "We learn a lot from each other." In the hotel business before joining the MBA, Segalhopes her time at Saïd will help her to live her dream and go it alone. She has already won the Oxford Entrepreneurs Idea Idol competition and had an offer of investment for her business development project, designer casts and slings for people happy to risk life and limb on the slopes and know they'll look good no matter what. "I'm an entrepreneurial type," she says. "I would love to do my own thing." You never know. The beautiful things about cogs and wheels are the revolutions and what they can make happen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on