How Business Students Can Prepare for Career Success

Amy Jo Carpenter, associate director of professional development at Tennessee Tech University College of Business discusses how students can leverage tools available to them through their business school to prepare for career success.


December 2016

Amy Jo Carpenter: [00:06] Business students should be looking for jobs that really depends on their background. It also depends on where their strengths and skills are, and what their major is.

[00:24] I'll just take an example of our accounting students. Our accounting department at Tennessee Tech is very strong. The ties between the faculty and students are wonderful.

[00:33] A lot of the students think they're on this accounting island, and they think they have to be a CPA or a tax auditor. Everyone needs an accountant. The more they can network with other people who are in that accounting field...Yes, there are things they learn in class will be applicable, but they're not all going to go out and be a partner in a firm.

[00:53] They can work for the big four for a little bit. I don't want them to think that they're nailed to that. That's just one aspect. The same thing with a management major or business and information technology major, finance. There are so many things that they can do in that field that means researching beforehand.

[01:12] That's why I like our students to be able to have an opportunity to talk to people, alumni, or a stakeholder who had the same major, and see where they are now and ask them questions. How did you get from here to here?

[01:28] I was a music major, and I've now been in business for 22 years. We don't all start at the same place. We all don't have the same path. You know about that, you can hear about that and gain confidence in yourself if you talk to other people, and find out where they started and how they got where they are.

[01:44] The sorts of networking opportunities that are valuable to students and the time that they should start engaging in them also varies per the student and the opportunities at the university.

[01:55] Studying abroad is a wonderful option. At our university, they pay for part of that experience. You can get class credit for it. That allows you to be in another culture, see how business is done in another culture and meet people that are network people for you. That's one thing.

[02:12] Another thing is take advantage of your alumni. Take advantage of getting to know your faculty. Don't start that your senior year. Invest in that once you get into your core foundation classes.

[02:24] Top skills that are in demand for every kind of business suit that I know any student is being able to accurately and effectively represent yourself on paper, in person, and online because employers will look at all three of those.

[02:40] You want to confidently come to them with a brand so they will know what they're getting. You will be able to talk about and refer to what your strengths and skills are. It's not just an interview question, it's very important to know those things.

[02:53] The only way you can do that is to practice the skills that are important for students when they're in a networking environment and also in an interview environment. Know some things about the area where you're going, know their sports teams, know what's important if you can research the employer or the people that are interviewing you.

[03:14] Know who the decision maker is, who the gate keeper is. Do some research. You can talk a little bit about where they're from, what they've done, if you can find that out.

[03:19] Always be nice. Your unspoken is more powerful than your spoken. If you speak anything but victory of yourself, whatever is in here, then that's what's people read. If you speak victory of yourself or if you've become confident in what you're doing, studying what your goals are, that's what people follow.


Filmed September 2016 on site at the Annual Accreditation Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.