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Business Careers

Industry Advisor: Caroline HerathBusiness is a wide and robust industry encompassing more than just corporations and for-profit organizations. All organizations, even those within education, government, and nonprofits need aspects of management, development, human resources, analytics and more to function well and succeed. A business is defined as an organization that exists to make a profit.

 

 

Business Industries by Sector
This table contains business industries by sector.
Accounting

An accountant gathers and interprets data to help determine the financial health of an organization. Accounting is a flexible and versatile career path. There are four main tracks in accounting: advisory, assurance, audit, and tax. Corporate finance, internal audit, governmental oversight, budget, and even forensics, are all possible career paths within accounting. A career in accounting calls for logic, reason, and investigation skills. Often, people who like puzzles and solving mysteries enjoy careers in auditing. The field also requires a fair amount of client interaction, so an outgoing personality and courteous attitude are advantageous.

Types of Accounting

  • Advisory is essentially financial consulting. People in this profession typically advise businesses on various financial decisions, and help move the business toward efficiency. Advisory professionals make recommendations to the client based on the financial and related information gathered on the business.
  • Assurance professionals assess risk and the quality of the information gathered, and offer recommendations to improve records. It is important that assurance professionals remain impartial by having nothing to do with the day-to-day operations, but instead verify that a business or organization has the proper controls and is following essential guidelines.
  • Audit is analyzing the validity and legality of a business's financial records. Auditors may also recommend risk mitigation and cost-saving measures. In some cases, they may be investigating organizations to uncover fraud. Auditors most often work in teams, traveling frequently to meet with client organizations directly.
  • Tax accountants are responsible for preparing financial documents, monitoring day-to-day bookkeeping, and/or preparing and filing tax forms for a company or organization. Tax accountants tend to work alone on individual projects, and enjoy researching questions and finding solutions. There isn’t as much client interaction or travel required in this type of accounting as the others listed above. Tax accounting is typically enjoyed by people who like the security and structure of rules, following steps in an orderly fashion, and have strong attention to detail.

More information about different career options, job descriptions, and career outlook can be found on O*NET Online:

For more information about employers, lifestyle, and the application process, check out Firsthand*.

*Note: You will need to login with your W&M credentials in order to access this resource for free.

Business Analytics

Data analytics, business analytics, data visualization, data science, and supply chain are all fields that use data and statistical methods to explore past business performance to gain insight and guide prediction of future performance. As we track and gather more and more data, it is becoming increasingly important to have specialists who are able to utilize these large data sets to extract important insights and drive planning and strategy.

Types of Analytics:

  • Supply Chain Management – Business analytics is utilized within the supply chain decision making process from project management to quality assurance to transportation and manufacturing to ensure the supply chain is efficient.
  • Data Science is an interdisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data. Data Scientists apply knowledge and actionable insights from data across a broad range of application domains.

More information about different career options, job descriptions, and career outlook can be found on O*NET Online:

Consulting

Consulting is generally referred to as the practice of helping companies increase their efficiency and profits by addressing the major operational or strategic challenges they’re facing. Consulting firms' main expertise is their people, who work to solve complex problems and recommend solutions. Consulting serves all industries and has expanded to include giant broad-based firms as well as smaller boutique and specialized firms. Some consulting firms focus on advising and recommending solutions to business problems, while others implement those solutions and maintain long-term contracts to maintain that implementation.

Types of Consulting:

  • Management or Strategy – Advise on overall business strategy and management or operations questions. These are often the most competitive jobs to obtain. Companies are looking for top thinkers and problem solvers, with excellent people skills and leadership experience.
  • HR – Brought in when a reorganization is taking place, or a firm is trying to better understand human capital considerations.
  • Financial Advisory - Advise businesses on various financial decisions, and helps move the business forward toward efficiency. Oftentimes the questions asked of these types of firms are surrounding mergers and acquisitions or investments. These positions are good for students with a finance, accounting, or quantitative background. Because these are high client-contact jobs, people skills and analytical ability are key.
  • Government - Consult with governmental organizations like the Department of Defense, USPS, Department of Education, etc. You may need to obtain a security clearance to work for government consulting firms.
  • Technology – Consult on issues that require a technological fix. Sometimes the company researches options and determines qualifications, and other times the company designs a custom in-house solution and implements and/or maintains that solution. Having a good quantitative or programming background can be helpful, and a strong interest in technology is important, even if your background isn’t as technical from the start.
  • Industry Specific (Healthcare, Oil, Environmental Impact, Higher Education, etc.) This type of consulting is often not an entry-level hire. Many times, these companies hire experts in their field to go out and give other companies the benefit of their wisdom.

For more information about employers, lifestyle, and the application process, check out Firsthand*.

*Note: You will need to login with your W&M credentials in order to access this resource for free.

Entrepreneurship

Do you want to start your own business? Entrepreneurship is probably the broadest category within the business careers industry, in that it simply means starting something new. This can be done within almost any industry. For more information, visit the Entrepreneurship Hub or join the Tribe Innovation Club.

Finance

The term finance covers almost every action regarding the use and care of money: how you gather it, spend it, or keep it. It can involve raising capital, managing funds, advising and coaching, or even regulating and controlling transactions.

Types of Finance:

  • Commercial Banking: Refers to services directly to individuals or businesses, such as deposits, checking accounts, CD’s, savings accounts, etc. Retail Banking is a subsection and refers specifically to the individual services sector.
  • Compliance/Risk Management: Ensures that a business is in compliance with regulations, legislation, or industry specifications. Risk management helps protect organizations from non-compliance by identifying, assessing and monitoring risks to compliance. Often an additional JD degree can be helpful.
  • Corporate Finance: Deals with how individual corporations address funding sources, capital structuring, accounting and investment decisions. These are internal divisions.
  • Development Finance: Refers to the efforts of local communities to encourage or stoke business expansion through investment, both private and public.
  • Equity Research: Involves researching companies, forecasting through financial modeling, and ultimately making buy/sell recommendations.
  • Financial Consulting: consulting that focuses on improving financial conditions for a company, often helping with mergers and acquisitions, profit and loss, or compensation strategy.
  • Investment Banking (IB): Financial service that engages in the creation of capital for other companies, governments, and organizations. They can do this through underwriting debt or selling equity. This includes Bulge Bracket firms, Middle Market firms, private equity/alternative assets, and boutique investment.
  • Investment Management (or asset management): Managing someone’s assets to increase wealth. Focuses solely on assets and does not consider risk mitigation, estate planning, taxes, etc.
  • Sales & Trading: A front office division of investment banks, refers to buying and selling of securities and other products.
  • Wealth Management: the process of advising high net worth individuals and organizations on appropriate investment strategies, using a range of products and services. Fees are often based on AUM (assets under management).
More information about different career options, job descriptions, and career outlook can be found on O*NET Online. See below for some great places to start.

For more information about employers, lifestyle, and the application process, check out Firsthand*.

*Note: You will need to login with your W&M credentials in order to access this resource for free.

Human Resources

Human Resources or Human Capital deals with the sourcing, screening, recruiting, training, compensating, and retaining of employees, and administering benefits for those employees. These roles can be strategic (How do you retain your best employees? How do you minimize costs? How do you more effectively source a diverse group of applicants?), and they can be administrative, compliance based, or developmental. HR doesn’t consist of any one job function but instead refers to anything related to employer – employee relations.

There are different areas of specialization within HR.

  • Recruitment: Also known as talent acquisition, this position sources and attracts candidates to fill open positions.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Determines compensation for new hires, develop wage increase scales, and craft benefit packages that help attract and retain employees.
  • Training and Development: Sets up training programs, onboarding, and professional development opportunities for ongoing education to current employees.
  • Performance Management: Communicates with employees, clarify job responsibilities, assess performance and communicate expectations and help plan new goals.
  • Succession Planning: Identifies critical positions within the organization and develops plans of action for individuals to assume those positions.
  • Information Systems: Manages technological tools used in hiring, training and retaining employees.
  • Data and Analytics: Tracks HR metrics and KPI’s, helps inform decisions related to workforce needs, turnover, and hiring as it relates to customer satisfaction.

More information about different career options, job descriptions, and career outlook can be found on O*NET Online.

For more information about employers, lifestyle, and the application process, check out Firsthand*.

*Note: You will need to login with your W&M credentials in order to access this resource for free.

Sales

Sales refers to any instance where you are exchanging any product, service, or idea for money, so it is wide ranging. While marketing and sales use different processes, both business functions impact lead generation and revenue.

  • Inside Sales – Generally office work, from inside the company, rather than traveling to the customer. These positions can sometimes be remote/work from home jobs.
  • Outside Sales – Travel to the customer and broker face-to-face deals.
  • Business to Business (B2B) Sales – Business to business sales focus on the sale of products or services to other companies or organizations rather than direct to the consumer.
  • Business to Consumer (B2C) Sales – Business to consumer sales refers to those that are direct to the consumer, for instance at a retail location or online.

More information about different career options, job descriptions, and career outlook can be found on O*NET Online.

For more information about employers, lifestyle, and the application process, check out Firsthand*.

*Note: You will need to login with your W&M credentials in order to access this resource for free.

Resources
This table contains resources for students interested in business careers.
Business Careers Industry Newsletter

This newsletter shares content specific to Business careers, including job and internship opportunities, upcoming events and more. To sign up to receive the newsletter, log into TribeCareers. Click on the circle on the top right of the page, then My Account, then Industry Newsletters/Career Interests and update your Industry Newsletters section by checking the box next to all of the newsletters you'd like to receive.

Events & Programs

Each year the Office of Career Development and Professional Engagement facilitates various events to help you explore the world of business, as well as find jobs and internships. These events have been offered both in-person and virtually.

  • Meet the Firms: This event is a symposium centered on the career fields of consulting and accounting. The event includes panel presentations, networking opportunities, and an industry-specific career fair. While the event is focused on accounting and consulting careers, it is not limited by major or class year and all students interested in the fields are welcome to attend. It is typically held in Miller Hall.
  • The Annual W&M Wall Street Program: This popular program takes approximately 20 William & Mary sophomores (with a GPA of 3.25 or higher) interested in careers in investment banking, trading systems and risk management platforms, hedge funds and asset management to visit companies in New York City and helps prepare them to be competitive for internships and ultimately for full-time employment. This program is not limited by major and all students interested in the field are welcome to apply to attend.
  • Consulting Case Interview Prep Program: This multi-week program introduces students to case interviews, covering their importance, how to approach them, and helpful tips and tricks. This program also provides an opportunity to practice skills and network with recruiters and alumni.

Other events offered on campus:

  • From DoG Street 2 Wall Street: This annual event, co-sponsored by the Mason School of Business, Howard J. Busbee Finance Academy and the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement provides students with an opportunity to learn about careers in Finance.
  • The Accounting Edge: This interactive program focuses on topics like on-campus recruiting, networking, professional etiquette, and personal branding. Professionals and alumni from top firms such as EY, PwC, KPMG, Veris Consulting, and BDO share their expertise and practice professional communication skills with students in a relaxed environment.
  • Tech Day: This is a once-a-year event of virtual thought leadership and employer networking you won't want to miss. Top technology companies from across the country will be represented throughout the day. All W&M students who are seeking jobs/internships that use their data, analytics, and/or computer science skills are welcome.
  • Women’s Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit: Stock pitch teams from William & Mary and other top universities around the world compete every spring semester for $10,000 in prizes. The event includes preliminary round stock pitches, a networking session with alumni and corporate partners, the final round of stock pitches (where the final few teams will pitch in front of an audience), and a dinner keynote.
Special Topics
  • The Boehly Center: The Center is a great resource if you are interested in the world of finance. You can find a decision tree for how to pick an area of finance, alumni profiles, student highlights, and top employers.
  • CPA Eligibility: Accounting jobs often will want to know when you will be CPA eligible, in other words, when you will have completed 150 hours of academic credit. Whether or not this is the same as your expected graduation, it is good to note this information on your resume, so that the companies can be sure when you plan to be CPA eligible. If you are anticipating enrolling in a MAcc program, for instance, listing that as well will be helpful for the companies in determining for which programs you will be eligible. They often calculate by “years from CPA eligibility” rather than “years to graduation.”
Recruiting Timelines

Keep in mind employers who recruit for some business functions often recruit earlier than many others, so keeping your eye on timelines is important. Many employers in accounting, consulting, and investment banking tend to recruit for externships, internships, and jobs 2-3 semesters before a role starts.

For opportunities in business analytics, you can expect to start your search in the late summer/fall prior to the job or internship beginning, although it never hurts to keep your eyes open for opportunities. Human resources and sales recruitment tend to be more on an as-needed basis, so timelines are often in the spring before the position is to begin.

W&M Clubs & Organizations

Log into TribeLink to find a full list of organizations, learn more and sign up for a club/organization that interests you. Here are just a few of the clubs and organizations you may want to explore: