If you're interested in studying business at degree level, you may have already discovered that it can be a tricky area. Some programmes get a bad press, or the subject itself is criticised as being a little too woolly. Not what you want to hear when you're planning your future.
The good news is that not all business programmes are created equal, and with a bit of research you can find a course, and a uni, that will thoroughly prepare you for a career that really goes places. Here are a few things to look out for, with some help from the business experts at Regent's University London.
Find the right environment
This is true of any degree programme, of course: unless you want to learn about midges and quiet despair, maybe don't choose to study in the Damp Swamp Castle. If business is your focus, think about locations that put you in the heart of things and provide a specialist study environment.
Students on Regent's University London’s International Business BA (Hons) course have excellent contact time with staff, for example, while the campus itself offers both peace and a little greenery alongside the excitement and opportunities that central London offers.
Pick a programme that caters to your interests
Because business is such a broad area, courses need to cover a wide range of topics. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to pursue your interests: look for a degree that gives you the option to specialise in areas that really appeal to you.
On the Regent's programme there's the chance to pick a 'major', so you'd complete a number of elective modules and a dissertation in an area that you like. Options include digital business, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, human resource management, management, and marketing; so there are plenty of subjects to engage your business brain.
What about the wider world?
A twenty-first century business is an international operation. If you're studying business it's important to start getting a global perspective on things early on, whether that's the environment that companies operate in, the different business cultures of different nations, or even things like how to work with colleagues from other countries.
A multicultural university is a step in the right direction as you'll be exposed to people and ideas from all over the world. Some courses (such as the Regent's University international business degree) will also give you the chance to study abroad: it's a great way of travelling, getting first-hand knowledge of other cultures and making friends all over the world.
Talking the talk
Of course, knowing how to work with international teams is a great skill in itself and English is often the common language of business. But that's not always the case, so having other tongues at your disposal is a very handy asset that prospective employers will love.
Plus there's the fact that learning a language (or multiple languages) gives you insight into other countries and cultures, as well as making travel and friendships with overseas students a much more rewarding experience.
If you're thinking about studying business it's worth finding out what the options for language learning are at your chosen uni. You might even find that it's built right into to some programmes: on the Regent's University International Business BA (Hons), students learn at least one language as a matter of course (options include Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish), so graduates talk the business talk in more ways than one.
A good business degree will give you a solid grounding in the theory, but that will only take you so far. To really be prepared you need workplace experience and the ability to get along as part of a team.
Be sure to check out a uni's links with industry and what work experience or placement opportunities they offer – it can make all the difference to the skills you graduate with. The International Business undergrad students at Regent's complete 30 weeks of work experience alongside their studies and have the option of further placements, for example. Plus, they spend time on a residential team building weekend, learning how to work with others but also how to lead.
Bear all of this in mind and you'll be well on the way to finding the right business course for you. After that, the world awaits...
Q&A with Miles Felix Dennert - International business with languages, first year
Q: Is the fact that Regent’s is in London important to you?
A: Absolutely, it’s an amazing city. The setting of the university is one of the best things about it – walking to school in the morning through.
Regent’s park is just amazing.
Q: What are the classes like?
A: There are around 15 students to every teacher here. Friends of mine who study in Germany have lectures with 250 other students. When I tell them our biggest lectures here are 35
people they can’t believe it.
Q: How do you find working with people from so many different backgrounds?
A: It can be challenging during group activities but that’s the nature of group work – it’s also something you need to learn because it’s the same in a business environment. Socially it’s great – outside in the courtyard you meet people from all over the world.
Q: The one thing that’s impressed you most?
There are academic events and talks with mingling sessions and drinks beforehand with the guest speakers. We’ve had amazing speakers, from Herman van Rompuy to the treasurer of Jersey. Also, the alumni department keeps in touch with people from EBSL who have started their own businesses and they host events where these people come in and meet us all.