Spotlight on Careers: Business

Interested in studying business in college?  If you missed our recent Spotlight on Careers: Business panel, you’re in luck!  Not only did we record it, we also took down some of the key points our panelists made during the hour-long discussion.  Magellan founder Evelyn Jerome-Alexander moderated this panel with our experts:

  • Barbara Palmer – Broad Perspective Consulting
  • Aidan Hettler – CEO of a healthcare facility in Northeast Colorado, with 150 employees working for him in five clinics in the area.
  • Scott Liebert – multi-family real estate property owner/manager
  • Danny Heyman – accountant and investment advisor
  • Rusty Taragan – former CEO and SCORE business coach

Here were the tips from our expert panelists for students who are interested in studying business in college:

Barbara works with early stage leaders and emerging professionals.
MENTOR is an important word for you to know!

How is your career path like a chess game?

Aidan – graduated from Colorado State University in 2021.


Being authentic in the workplace with the desire to do well in your role is really important.

What was your SAT score? Your HS GPA? No one in the workplace will ask. Doesn’t matter anymore.

Scott – there are so many different aspects of real estate!  Marketing, finance, development, sales, investment, property management.

Finding a path that speaks to you – following your dreams – is so important. You can fine tune during college and after.

Not every day is a perfect day but having an opportunity to work with people who enjoy what they’re doing is rewarding.

Danny started in accounting; his family firm has been around for 3 generations. He studied business administration during undergrad and then obtained his Master’s in Accounting.

At the beginning of your career, you’re going to do some work that some might consider menial – this could include administrative or research work.  This is standard in most industries.

Accounting is a financial look-back. Investment advising is looking forward to help people plan for their financial futures – saving for buying a house or paying for your children’s college!

Rusty thought he would be a political science major and then a lawyer – that changed one semester into college! [Message: don’t be afraid to change your major if you discover something you really like that you hadn’t thought about before college!]

What are the fundamentals of running a business?  How does corporate strategic planning work?
How do companies that own multiple companies in their portfolio operate? What jobs do people have in each of the smaller subsidiaries?

Barbara started law school but left a semester before graduating when she realized she did not want to be a lawyer.

Life is going to happen in ways you can’t anticipate. Be in touch with your core values to determine where your passion lies.  There’s opportunity when you watch how the world around you is changing.

How do you know what business concentration you like? Try different courses and see what really sticks with you. What “speaks” to you?  Then fine tune your education to follow the path that speaks to you.

Be intentional about the experiences you pursue.  Seek out mentors – ask them to chat with you over coffee. Connect with them on LinkedIn (you should start a LinkedIn account as soon as you get to college!)

Ask admissions officers how their business programs are set up. Do you get to explore different concentrations? When do you have to make decisions about your path?

There’s no way to understand how complex a field is until you’ve been in it for awhile.

You may end up working in a field that is not directly connected to the area or concentration you studied.

You’ll get the base skills that you can transfer to different areas.

The college experience is discovery, curiosity. Take classes in a bunch of different areas!!

College is community!! What do you contribute to it? What do you get from it?

Can you go into business with a degree from a liberal arts college? YES!

You’re going to grow more in your four years of college than any other four years of your life.

Challenge yourself!  Get out of your comfort zone.

Also – you don’t actually have to major in business! Here’s a list of alternatives from the University of Connecticut.

Be brave – reach out to people you find through your research in industries in which you’re interested.

Get involved in your community – you may meet people who introduce you to others who can help. BE CURIOUS and ask questions. Be open-minded!

Get involved in professional organizations – they may have opportunities for you (internships, mentorships)

End every conversation this way: “Is there someone else you think I should talk to?”

Reaching out to a professional: be limited in what you ask for. Ask for 10 minutes of their time. Ask to speak to someone on their team.

LinkedIn tips: show your experience. Get to 500+ contacts.

Read your feed. Read what the “influencers” you follow are posting. Comment when you have something substantive to add!

LinkedIn Learning – they have lots of online courses where you can add to your skills.

You can find alumni from your college on LinkedIn

Don’t limit yourself to business courses. Try different things, don’t be narrowly focused.

It’s ok if you don’t exactly understand the lingo when business professionals talk about what they do.

Explore, be open minded. Be willing to change course.

You’re going to learn more outside the classroom than inside the classroom.

Make sure you’re comfortable with change.

Think about what you value. How do you want to shape and craft your life around that?

DON’T WAIT to use the career counseling office!  Start freshman year. Go visit the career office when you do your college tours!

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