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Getting Down to Business

Professor Katherine Conway.
Professor Katherine Conway.
March 5, 2008

Many students enter BMCC with the hope of preparing for a career in business, but no definite sense of what area to target. Business 104 -- “Introduction to Business” -- can help them decide.

“Of all the courses I’ve taught over years -- in finance, entrepreneurship, and other topics -- this one is my favorite,” says Katherine Conway, an assistant professor and deputy chair of the business management department. “What I like about it is that for many students, it’s their first introduction to business topics. It’s a survey course that covers everything from basic economics to human resources to how to read a financial statement.” For students who think they might be interested in a business career, she says, “it’s a wonderful way to gain a broad exposure to the field. Then they can begin focusing on areas that match their personality, interests and aptitudes.”

Online option

Introduction to Business meets three hours a week, but an online version of the course provides a viable solution for students with family or job commitments that make it difficult to attend classes in person on a fixed schedule. Once they’ve completed the survey course on site or online, Conway recommends that students meet with a faculty advisor to select one of three academic tracks -- business administration, business management, or small business entrepreneurship -- and decide on a major.

“For some, the choice isn’t difficult,” she says. “A student who loves math might be a natural fit for a career in finance. Someone who is more interested in psychology or sociology might opt for marketing or advertising.”

The business administration track is designed primarily as a transfer program. “In addition to the introductory course, students take a handful of more specialized business-related courses, such as introduction to accounting and business law, as well as the required liberal arts courses,” Conway says. “The idea is to do the first two years of a baccalaureate program here and then transfer to a four-year college where they earn a bachelor’s degree.”

The business management track, in contrast, is geared towards students looking to move into the business world as soon as possible and thus involves a heavier concentration in business courses with less liberal arts content. “Many students who go this route are already in the workforce, and some may even have degrees,” says Conway. “Their interest is in deepening their knowledge of a particular subset, such as finance, or travel and tourism.” The third track is small business entrepreneurship, which gives students the skills they will need to start and run their own business, or be a successful employee of a small business.

A solid foundation

Whichever track they choose, students can count on an enlightening and challenging educational experience. Recently, Conway received an e-mail from a former student who had taken the online version of “Introduction to Business” three years ago.

“He said that he’d found the course much tougher than he’d expected,” Conway says. “There was too much homework, and too much commentary from me on the papers I handed back to him.” But the student graduated and went to earn a Bachelors degree at a four-year college in Florida. “He wrote that Introduction to Business had laid the foundation for the rest of his college career,” Conway says. “That was enormously gratifying.”

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