All organisations need to manage finances, and recruit, train and develop staff and many careers have the potential to develop into management roles where business skills will become important. You could work in accounting, banking, buying, insurance, recruitment, management consultancy, sales, marketing and IT. Many sectors offer graduate training schemes and will value the knowledge and transferable skills business graduates have to offer. Self-employment may also be an option.
In sales or buying you need proven experience with a good record of achieving targets. Most employers will consider experience, market knowledge and track record to be more important than academic qualifications. For some specialist jobs a BTEC HNC/HND or degree in business studies or a relevant subject may be an advantage. Your knowledge could also come from previous experience in designing or manufacturing the type of products your company sells. Qualified Teacher Status is essential if you want to teach business studies in state schools.
Contact agencies directly to ask about placements, and make industry contacts through relevant groups on social networking sites.
Usually standard office hours with some travelling and overtime to meet deadlines.
Most companies offer a basic salary with a bonus or commission scheme. Starting salaries can range from £18,000 - £25,000 plus commission. Experienced sales managers can earn between £25,000 and £55,000. Experienced buyers can typically earn £22,000 - £40,000. Top salaries can be over £70,000 a year.
You could join some large companies as a trainee buyer through management training schemes. You will need a degree (in any subject) to get onto a training scheme, although some employers recruit people with A levels or similar. You could also start as an assistant and work your way up. Jobs may be advertised with specialist sales recruitment agencies, in the local and national press, and trade publications for your particular industry.
Graduate profile: Mike Bly from IBM
1. What subject(s) did you graduate in and from where?
I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BSc (Hons) in Computing in 2010.
2. What is your current job role? Please provide a brief description of your duties
I am currently working as a software developer on a defence project. Recently I was given my own sub-project to lead – my duties now include: managing a subordinate; planning & estimation; software design, development and testing.
3. What skills, knowledge and qualities does your job require?
Problem solving, analytical and deep technical skills. There is scope for some client-interaction, so soft skills are also fairly important. Leading my current sub-project requires time management, forward planning, communication and managerial skills.
4. What are the benefits of the degree/qualification(s) you studied for?
My degree gave me strong foundations in a broad range of technologies. One of the non-technical units I studied in my final year was Information Systems Management, which has proven to be hugely beneficial in understanding organisational issues, behaviour and decisions.
5. Are there any additional activities or work experience that helped you?
I opted to complete an industrial placement sandwich year as part of my degree. I spent a year working as a database application developer for Oracle. This gave me invaluable business and technical experience, and I think it was a key differentiator when I applied for IBM.
6. Is there any other advice you would give to someone interested in working in a similar field?
Being the centre of attention doesn’t come naturally to me as a Computer Scientist. I’m much more comfortable dealing with the technical side of things, and whilst I find it rewarding, I think it’s good to challenge yourself in other ways. Getting stuck into side-projects and extracurricular activities that stretch my soft skills makes me nervous, but I also get a real buzz out of it. Technical graduates with good soft skills are much more employable than those without.
7. How did you find your current job and what was the application process like?
I saw the IBM graduate scheme advertised on Milkround.co.uk, and whilst the application process was somewhat daunting, I figured it was worth the effort. There are 5 stages to the IBM graduate scheme application process:
• Online CV & application form
• Online aptitude test
• Selection centre
• Assessment centre
• Business matching interview
8. What do you think are the main keys to success in your field?
Having a mixture of technical and soft skills. Very few technologists can get away with sitting in a secluded office hammering away at their keyboards 24/7. They need to be presentable to potential clients and users, able to articulate their solutions and win business for their organisation.
9. What are your future career options?
There are a wealth of career options available for me at IBM. I discuss them regularly with my Professional Development Manager. In the short term I plan to continue to develop my technical skills as I believe a strong technical background is beneficial for most roles within IBM. Eventually I see myself either as a Technology Consultant or an IT Architect, but will see what opportunities arise.
10. How has being lesbian, gay or bisexual impacted your career, if at all?
Not very much. I’m lucky enough to be part of an astoundingly inclusive workforce. Some of my colleagues aren’t aware of my sexuality; others are. Those who know didn’t bat an eyelid when I told them and as far as I’m aware their perception and opinion of me hasn’t changed whatsoever. Being involved with the IBM LGBT has given me some great opportunities, such as marching at London Pride and attending the Stonewall Equality dinner.
11. How important was it that your university provided specific services/advice for you as an LGB student?
I think having an LGBT society at university is extremely important. Whilst I think it’s best to socialise with course/hall mates and integrate as much as possible, sometimes you can’t help but feel isolated and/or different. At such times it’s good to be around likeminded people, which is where the LGBT comes in.I studied in Manchester, but I can imagine that the LGBT is even more important for universities in locations where there isn’t a significant LGBT population.