Business: it’s a way of life but not a major

Brad Gordon

The middle of fall semester signals the start of choosing a major for C&F sophomores. At this time, however, trying to plan the next 50 years of your life is challenging, to say the least. Unfortunately for these people, “business” is not a major. Students may be feeling the pressure to decide on a major and will be asked by administration in the coming weeks to do so.

Business students should not fear, however, for help is out there. The C&F Peer Counselors will be sponsoring a C&F major forum today at 12:30 p.m. in Bartley 2010. Any undecided C&F students concerned with picking a major should consider attending.

While it is important for students in their sophomore year to be thinking ahead, they should not feel there is no opportunity for adjustment if they later want to change their major. Changing a major while avoiding scheduling difficulties is normally feasible until either first or second semester junior year.

Nevertheless, for anyone considering economics, marketing or finance as a possible major, here is some important information as it pertains to these majors at Villanova and the market in general.


Economics degrees are considered useful because they prepare students for a number of careers. A rapidly growing field where an economics degree is considered appropriate is business consulting. All the major accounting firms have consulting divisions, and recent graduates have gone on to work for Goldman Sachs, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young and the New York Federal Reserve Bank, among others. If you plan to go on to law school or a career in banking then economics may be for you.

Specifically, Villanova boasts an economics major who went on to become a managing partner at Goldman Sachs, one who went on to become a professor at George Mason University and another who was a consultant for Ernst and Young before finding even greater success in the high-tech business world.

Economics majors tend to possess good analytical skills and are interested in the economy and business performance as a whole. Those seeking internships might find one with Merrill Lynch, Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations or Prudential Financial Services.

As in most areas, the job market in the past couple of years has been down for economics majors. At graduation a little over 50 percent of those who applied had full-time job offers and six months after graduation the number jumped to about 75 percent. These graduates received offers that started around $35,000 annually.

The good news is that the job market for economics majors is expected to grow. Students would be best served by supplementing their economics degree with a strong background in computer science or math courses. Writing skills also tend to be especially important and the better jobs will go to students who can write well.


Students graduating with a marketing degree will likely find employment in marketing research, sales, advertising, customer service, general management or consulting.

The range of skills students tend to possess in this field is very broad. Creativity can be very important for a career in advertising, while quantitative skills may be of greater value in marketing research. Examples of firms with which students might obtain internships with include Ford Motor Co., Comcast or Sony Entertainment.

The exciting career path of a 1992 marketing graduate began with a job offer from the New York Jets. After working for the Jets for a year and a half, it was off to Philadelphia to work for the Eagles in a corporate sales position. After obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business school, he went back to the Eagles and obtained a position as vice president of Sales. In 2000, the Villanova graduate accepted a position with And 1 and helped spearhead its new television station. Currently this graduate has a distinguished position in the NBA as vice president of Team Marketing.

Just like everywhere else, the job market here has been down lately ,but students who search diligently during their senior years more often than not find positions. Roughly 55 percent of marketing students graduated with job offers waiting. The average starting salaries for these newly employed marketing majors was about $40,000 excluding advertising, which typically pays less at the start.


If either economics or marketing is not for you, perhaps finance is. Students graduating with a major in finance will probably start with an entry-level financial analyst position and can work their way up to treasurer, credit manager, cash manager and other high-level positions. With time, even a position as comptroller is possible, but will require extensive knowledge of both accounting and finance.

The initial work performed by financial analysts is supportive in nature and typically involves research on company databases, as well as developing and maintaining them.

As a financial analyst or manager you will be required to have a broad understanding of finance along with good analytical and computer skills, excellent people skills, creative ability, written and oral communication skills and initiative. Most entry level positions will require training that lasts anywhere from six weeks to four months.

Finance majors beware, however, because every graduate will not receive the Wall Street-type jobs with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or Solomon Smith Barney. These positions are typically reserved for students graduating with a GPA of 3.6 or higher. A GPA lower than this may take you out of contention for a Wall Street job before you were even considered.

But even a high GPA alone will not be enough. Typically only five percent of students will receive jobs with the top-level firms. On the brighter side, for those who possess the necessary skills and are willing to work up to 80 hours a week, the rewards can be great. Villanova currently boasts two VPs at Goldman Sachs and high-level positions such as these can be obtained by those as young as their early 30s.

As far as internships go, students can obtain them with high-level firms, but will not necessarily be doing “accounting” while there. The internship may consist of putting together advertising for seminars and is designed to get the student acquainted to in house systems.

To repeat a played out theme, the job market for finance majors is tight. Employment opportunities here are a function of the market and the market has been anemic over the last two years.

Fortunately, the economy moves in cycles and will come around. Last year about 42 precent of finance majors graduated with job offers and had an average starting salary of $48,000. As always, students who get an early start on job hunting are likely to find a position.