Consider These Things Before Getting a Bachelor of Business Administration
My most important takeaways are 10x more related to life than to the course content.
I was about to type, “I spent four years studying market research and marketing” but that is not entirely true. I can pretend to be fancy and recall every marketing model and acronym I ever learnt, but that’s not really what I want to share here.
Even though the program officially lasts four years, it took me five to finish. Of those five years, I spent around 2.5 attending lectures, taking exams and being present on university premises. One year was spent abroad. The remaining time was spent on writing a bachelor thesis, defending it and hereby graduating.
Heavily influenced by the home front who I consulted at the time I made a decision, I considered both art school and linguistics — before going after a *drumroll* Bachelor of Business Administration.
I stuffed both of these former ideas in the trash. No one wants to be a starving artist or jobless linguist. Choosing this path of course doesn’t have to equal a lack of perspective in your career. I just didn’t see beyond the label society had placed on these groups and I fell for the trap of blindly following the opinions of the masses a la “Choose that path, and you’ll be broke”.
Since Covid, the digitalization has ramped up with lighting speed, suddenly making hordes of loyal workers redundant. Replaced by cleverly connected zaps. Or an algorithm. Oh, how do you call that thing again that you can not automate? Creativity. But this is what we have.
When thinking back about those years in university, here’s what comes to mind.
Choose a subject because you want to challenge yourself
I did not only choose the BBA because others pointed me in that direction. I like to make things harder than necessary. For example, by pursuing a degree in a field that wasn’t necessarily my first love.
It was deliberate. I wanted my mind to be stretched and do something that I knew wouldn’t be that easy. To push myself further and learn something that didn’t come naturally. In high school I was weakest in beta subjects, such as math and economics. Then again, I wasn’t putting a lot of effort in my grades either. That’s all on me.
Don’t worry too much if you suck at certain subjects right now
Pursuing a BBA probably means touching on economics, maths, market research, some statistics. I used to fail those subjects with flying colors. It didn’t matter that much though. You’ll have the duration of your entire years-long program to get a grasp on topics you don’t yet comprehend, and strengthen your knowledge in areas where you’re weaker. After all, you’re there to study and get better. That’s the whole point of a study program. If you end up failing, at least you’ll have tried.
Don’t wait to switch majors if you want to do something else deep down
If I could go back, I would either switch fields to something I had a bigger interest in, or make it more complicated by studying something like computer sciences. Technology is another subject I barely passed in high school. The teacher who taught technology and IT got a rush out of giving kids grades as low as possible, and stuffing it in their faces, preferably in front of their classmates for increased levels of shame. I didn’t feel that safe or comfortable studying IT under his wing, so I refrained from taking this optional class in its entirety.
Say yes to unexpected opportunities
A teacher had forwarded this freelance transcription job to his students. This unexpectedly showed up in my email. As I was looking for something on the side, I applied and got the gig. I ended up keeping it for nearly two years. It did a great deal in supporting me throughout university.
Don’t be obsessed with nothing but the end goal
A second situation. When finding a company to write my bachelor thesis for, the curriculum was currently being adjusted. You couldn’t just conduct a market research and write a marketing plan for any company anymore. It had to be a company that exported physical products.
One company I was in applying with I had to reject shortly after. It was a digital marketing agency. I explained to them what the situation was. Despite wanting to work with them, it would mean that I wouldn’t be able to graduate. Looking back, it would have been cool to screw the piece of paper that year, and start earning and learning straight away.
The university will be there, the opportunity might not stick around.
Go through university strategically
I’d tell you to not spend all your time scrolling on TikTok. Before you come at me, I said “all”. Some time is fine. Who knows what your Social Media fun-time might turn into.
When you already have a more or less clear vision of the study path you’d like to follow, I suggest doing more than the absolute minimum to pass your exams. You’re young now and the time will be spent once only. So I suggest the following:
- Volunteer or look for committee work. To build connections, set up events and gain experience organising real-world initiatives, albeit digitally. “Working for free, if done strategically, can lead to opportunities”, entrepreneur Gary Vee said more than once. You could meet your future business partner through volunteering. Or end up accepting a gig at the other side of the world.
- Get a side job you’re actually interested in. I did any odd job I could find for the quick buck. Cloak room girl at a gay bar two streets further (I am still waiting for the owner to pay me for my shift), assembly line work in night shifts at a factory… This got boring fast, resulting in me always jumping from side job to side job. Seek out something you’re interested in. You’ll last longer, and walk away with knowledge and experience, that you can apply to the next job. Keep doing this and you’ll build yourself up in terms of value at no risk.
- Use the flexible schedule to start spending time on things that matter to you. Now with Corona there will be no student parties anyway. I know that is not how you imagined it to be. None of us did. Make it worthwhile.
Teach yourself some real tech skills
What I think my program really lacked, is the acquisition of technical literacy. Knowing how to make good-looking Slides is not enough. Although knowing how to present is a skill that is heavily trained in marketing school, and a useful one. I still really missed the technical aspect being covered. Knowing data analysis and basic coding skills can make you that more valuable. I think it should be included in the curriculum.
You don’t need to wait until you graduate and have a piece of paper to set up something of your own
What if you already have an idea for freelancing or for a company?
You don’t need to wait until you have a degree before you’re “credible enough”. You can start by taking yourself seriously first. You could start making the first tiny steps of your journey today, sign up a small business, or sign up as a freelancer, and build your small project into as large as you want to make it.
Creators with small businesses on Etsy have showcased their work on TikTok, gone viral and are now cashing in.
If you think, “Nah, I should focus on my studies”, I would tell you: this is the digital age where you need a device and access to the internet and you have everything you need to offer your services and market yourself.
Wherever your path may lead, it will never be exactly like someone else’s. I wish you the best of luck in carving out yours and I hope this piece could give you one new insight, even if it’s tiny.