In the recent past, the number of students enrolling at institutions of higher learning has dramatically increased in line with the shifting expectations in the job market. However, of concern is the fact that many of these students enroll into disciplines and courses they have scant information about, leading to a misalignment between the fields pursed at the university and future job expectations (Edmunds et al., 2010). Given this concern, the current paper aims to investigate the field of business administration (strategic management), with the view to identifying the main concerns students in this field have to contend with.
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The Preparation needed in the Field of Business Administration
Students intending to major in the field of business administration (strategic management option) need to be fully prepared on what strategies and approaches they will adapt to sharpen their analytic, decision making, and innovative capabilities as these are expected of a modern-day leader in a business organization. Additionally, students are expected to prepare on what strategies and approaches they will employ to develop proficiency in several important spheres needed to be effective in business administration. Specifically, they have to prepare on what it is that they intend to do to achieve proficiency in deploying information technology to achieve organizational objectives, understanding current economic inclinations and public policy, and synthesizing knowledge of behavioral processes and procedures in business entities (Preparing for a Career, 2008). Consequently, students must individually prepare on how to develop and refine these skills as they go about their studies.
At the academic level, students are urged to prepare “by creating an educational program composed of courses within and outside of each school, and participating in internships, research opportunities, study abroad opportunities and special courses” (Preparing for a Career, 2008 para. 3). An interview with a business administration student in his final year of study reveals that participating in internships and undertaking individual courses are some of the most effective preparation techniques students can use to develop and polish essential managerial skills, including critical thinking, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and effective communication (J. White, personal communication, March 12, 2014). Own observations within the university context demonstrate that institutions of higher learning also take the initiative to prepare students for a career in business administration through academic advising, which in turn assists students to fashion their undergraduate programs around their unique career objectives.
Waddock and Lozano (2013) argue that students should be prepared by being granted the necessary knowledge on the number and marketability of the various specializations under the domain of business administration. Some students lack the knowledge that the business administration program at the university level is an umbrella program that incorporates a multiplicity of specializations. Thus it is always important to provide students with up-to-date knowledge about the requirements of these fields and their relevance to the current job market. From the interview with the final year student, it is clear that the most important specializations under the cadre of business administration include accounting, finance, human resources, strategic management, operations management, international business, public relations, and tourism and hospitality (J. White, personal communication, March 12, 2014).
Kinds of Courses in Business Administration
Majors in the domain of business administration (strategic management option) are expected to take up leadership positions in profit and non-profit organizations upon graduation, and hence most of the courses revolve around the study of organizations, individual and group behavior, leadership styles and approaches, strategy formulation and implementation, financial and accounting issues, ethical principles, marketing, information and communication technology, and a multiplicity of other courses from a macro perspective (Preparing for a Career, 2008).
Personal observations of the main activities related to the field of business administration demonstrate that it is management and leadership oriented, implying that courses in management and leadership are essential in ensuring success. Specifically, the key courses in a business administration degree program, according to Waddock and Lozano (2013), include operations management, financial management, management information systems, organizational behavior, accounting, business statistics, business ethics and law, business policy and strategy, leadership studies, team leadership, principles of leadership and management, strategic leadership, economics, human resources management, international management and marketing.
An interview with the final year student demonstrates that some universities provide students with the leeway to select courses and customize their studies based on their future job requirements. However, universities come up with their own rules on the mandatory units to cover per semester (J. White, personal communication, March 12, 2014). Drawing from this exposition, it is evident that the program puts much emphasis on management, leadership, as well as strategy formulation and implementation. The knowledge and skills accumulated upon exposing students to these courses, according to the interviewee, provide an enabling environment for graduates to provide the needed leadership and management capacities to run contemporary organizations. Personal observations of part-time students in this field reveal that most of them are indeed taking refresher courses in leadership and management to keep up with the current trends and reinforce their productivity within work contexts.
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The interview with the final year student demonstrates that business administration is still a marketable degree program going by the high number of profit and non-profit organizations requiring qualified management leaders to drive their strategic objectives into the next level. The interviewee has been convinced that the forthcoming graduation will guarantee him with numerous job openings both in public and private sector (J. White, personal communication, March 12, 2014). While perusing job advertisements posted in a local dairy, I have observed that about 70 percent of the advertisements have a management component and a further 45 percent have a leadership component in their job descriptions. Such appealing statistics demonstrate that the market is indeed ripe for graduates of business administration.
Graduates in business administration can secure jobs as operations managers, administrative services managers, top executives, human resources managers, financial analysts, database administrators, management analysts, training and development managers, childcare center directors and postsecondary education administrators. Still, graduates can land jobs as business administrators, corporate development managers, corporate auditors, education supervisors, environmental analysts, general office assistants, event managers, customer service representatives and credit managers (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014). The area of specialization is instrumental in deciding which type of job best suits a graduate of business administration.
From this exposition, it is evident that students need to be afforded with the knowledge to enable them prepare adequately while entering into the degree program and also while developing the skills needed in the contemporary job market. It is of immense importance for universities to avail the necessary knowledge and information to students as they select their core areas of specialization. The courses taken by students majoring in the field of business administration have been well illuminated, with the major ones given as those having a managerial, leadership, human resources and strategy component. Lastly, this discussion has demonstrated that there are many job openings for graduates of business administration.
Edmunds, J.A., Bernstein, L., Glennie, E., Willse, J., Arshavsky, N., Unlu, F…Dallas, A. (2010). Preparing students for college: The implementation and impact of the early college high school model. Peabody Journal of Education, 85(3), 348-364.
Occupational outlook handbook. (2014). Web.
Preparing for a career in business. (2008). Web.
Waddock, S., & Lozano, J.P. (2013). Developing more holistic management education: Lessons learned from two programs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(2), 265-284.