Business majors are among the most popular that employers seek in new talent, according to one report.
Business majors are the most likely to be included in an employer's hiring pool, and 75 percent of employers indicated they would hire at least one business major this year, according to Michigan State University's "Recruiting Trends 2017-18" report.
Undergraduates who study business often have a specific focus – such as finance, supply chain management or business administration – and later generally work in consulting, financial services, banking or a related field.
For college applicants who want to find an undergraduate business program that will help them stand out in the job market, researching schools' careers services department can help them find the right fit, experts say.
Some business schools have a career services department that's more hands off, letting students come to the office when they need help. But others have formal programs, says Karen Marks, president and founder of North Star Admissions Consulting a company that helps college and graduate school applicants get admitted.
Prospective students need to decide which environment matches their needs.
A more structured program may ask students to create a resume and may actively prepare students for interviews, says Marks, who previously worked at New Hampshire's Dartmouth University in admissions for undergraduate applicants and applicants for the Tuck School of Business.
“The most prominent undergraduate business schools have that infrastructure,” she says.
At the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Business, tied for no. 31 among the U.S. News Best Undergraduate Business Programs, students directly admitted to the business school are required to take a seminar that prepares them for a future job search and career, says Ken Brown, associate dean for Tippie's undergraduate program.
"We introduce them to business education and business careers. We also introduce them to leadership and what it means to be a business leader and an ethical business leader," says Brown.
Undergraduates specializing in marketing, management, finance and accounting at the university also take a required professional preparation seminar, says Brown.
New business students at the University of Pittsburgh take a required course that teaches them to excel in class and at work, says Fredrick Kendrick, director of career development at Pittsburgh's college of business administration.
Students learn to manage their digital space, character and ethics, he says. "You have to be the CEO of yourself."
Business majors also have access to industry professionals who work with the school. Students can turn to them for guidance on subjects like communication and conflict management. They can also participate in the Pitt Business Mentoring Match and connect with an alumni mentor, Kendrick says.
Education experts agree that what students learn in class is critical for career success, but so is what happens outside of class. Kendrick encourages prospective college students who are researching business programs to aim to answer the question of what the school is offering that will help them become better individuals beyond the classroom.
Looking at hard data can likewise help prospective students gauge whether certain business schools will help them stand out in the job market, says Marks, from North Star Admissions Consulting. She recommends they look at job placement statistics to see where students go when they graduate.
"I would take a look at regional differences," she advises. For example, she says if a student is from the Midwest and wants to remain there, it's good for him or her to know how many students remain in that region of the country.
Molly Monroe, a current Tippie student who will graduate in December, encourages prospective students to get some face time with schools they like before they apply.
“It’s great to visit if you can," says the economics major. "I think you get a lot of insight in going to a school and hearing students speak about the different opportunities there.”
Brown, Tippie's associate dean, also encourages applicants to talk to current students about their experiences. "Are they able to meet with staff and ask questions? Are they able to get feedback on their resume?"
A school that really helps students stand out may also be the place where they feel most comfortable and able to grow.
"Students want to come to an institution where they feel they’re a good fit and they’re able to connect with other students, with the advisers and the faculty," he says. "Students are going to do more, more in the classroom and more out of the classroom, if they’re in an environment where they feel welcome."