I am graduating from undergraduate business school in less than a month. I have taken some time to reflect on the key things I have learned during my four years in school and have detailed them below. It is hard to boil it down to just five major learning points, but the items I have chosen are the most important.
1. How to work in teams
The first and most important lesson I learned from business school is how to effectively work in teams. No matter what your job is at some point you are going to have to work with another human being. Even the most introverted jobs require some form of communication with other people. In business school nearly all the classes I took had a team project in the lesson plan. I learned to effectively work within a team whether it was a semester long project or just a 15 minute project during class. The key to working in teams successfully is to communicate the right way. This requires finding the right balance of being courteous and direct. Courtesy gets your team members to like and respect you while directness gets your message across clearly.
2. How to use Excel
All Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) are crucial to the business world. Excel is one program that most people do not utilize to its fullest potential. I took an entire course dedicated to learning how to use Excel and its many functions in school and I recommend that you do the same. There are some great online courses available that can help you get ahead of the pack. First, you should learn most of the basic formulas Excel offers and then you can move to the more complicated items like pivot tables and conditional formatting.
3. How to brainstorm ideas
Quite often, creative thinking is not attributed to business majors but it is key to thriving in the workplace. Creative thinking involves diverging and then converging. Divergent thinking is coming up with every crazy idea related to a problem. For example, if you want to get to work faster you consider the possibility of growing wings and flying there. Once a list is created you converge on the feasible options until you have your winning idea. For example, maybe flying there is not feasible, but taking a new route or riding your bike are potential options.
4. How to make a good first impression
Surprisingly, making a good first impression does not have a lot to do with what you first say to someone new. Instead, it is all about body language. Your posture, dress, and handshake speak volumes for who you are as a person. Make sure that you stand up straight, make eye contact, dress the part, and shake firmly in order to make the best first impression possible.
5. Marketing basics
Many business gurus, like Mark Cuban, believe that accounting is key to understanding businesses. I disagree. Accounting can get mundane and also confusing at times. Plus, you can always outsource accounting to a professional in the field. The real key to understanding a business and ensuring its success is knowing how to market a product. If a product does not sell then there is no use for accounting anyways. First, brush up on the basics like the 4 P's and various selling strategies. Then you can dive into some related and up-to-date professional articles.
That finishes off my list of the top five things I took away from business school. Of course, there were numerous other topics covered during my short time in school, but these five are the most important out of everything. If you have any questions please make sure to leave a comment!