By Lisa A. Burke-Smalley, PHD, SPHR


Dr. Lisa Burke-Smalley

As a general rule, the unemployment rate for college graduates is far less than those with only a high school diploma, and a bachelor’s degree adds significantly to one’s earnings over the span of a lifetime. For those reasons, and many others, an undergraduate degree can be a good investment, particularly in high demand areas such as science, technology/computer science, engineering, healthcare, and business. [see Carnavale & Cheah “Hard Times,” 2013 report, Center on Education & the Workforce, Georgetown University].

When it comes to business majors, future employment prospects differ, as seen in the following table based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Job Title Employment, 2010 Demand: Forecasted % Change 2010-2020
Human Resource Specialists 442,200 21%
Computer and Information Systems Managers 307,900 18%
Accountants & Auditors 1,216,900 16%
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers


Human Resource Managers 71,800 13%
Sales Managers 342,100 12%
Budget Analysts 62,100 10%
Financial Managers 527,100 9%
Industrial Production Managers 150,300 9%
Purchasing Managers, Buyers, Purchasing Agents 487,200 7%
Tax examiners, collectors, agents 74,500 7%

Source: United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition. Washington: GPO. Retrieved 7/22/13 at

Individuals in any undergraduate business major can increase their employment prospects upon graduation by getting internships or other types of pre-professional work experience. Hands-on experience is critical to providing important context for students to learn how businesses operate and how all the functional areas in an organization inter-relate and add value (e.g., finance, marketing, human resources, accounting).

Regardless of major, students should also concentrate on honing their “soft skills”- put simply, most employers in the hiring phase continue to emphasize: communication skills (i.e., writing, speaking, interpersonal), teamwork, flexibility, problem solving, and a positive attitude. If not refined, these areas could easily become a “fatal flaw” despite a graduate’s stronger technical skills (Zenger & Folkman, 2008).

Helping Business Students Hone Their Soft Skills

The Decosimo Student Success Center offers College of Business students a variety of opportunities to improve their soft skills. Make plans to attend one or both of the events below:

Real Resume Review

  • Wednesday, January 28th, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 29th, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Quick Questions Mock Interviews

  • Wednesday, February 18th, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 19th, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Events take place in the Fletcher Hall Student Lounge.

The Real Resume Review and Quick Questions events give students access to knowledgeable business professionals in their fields of interest who will review their resumes or critique their interview approach in a 15-20 minute time frame. Students gain invaluable feedback and excellent network connects for little time commitment.

Interested students can simply drop by during the events or students who have tight schedules may reserve a time slot by emailing Irene Hillman, Career Development Manager:

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