A Business Degree vs. A Non-Business Degree in a Business World

A quick glance over any jobs website and it’s quite clear that there are many opportunities for graduates in business areas. Wayfair is an online retailer of homeware. It’s currently the number one online home retailer in the USA and is rapidly expanding into Europe.

Wayfair spoke to two of its UK employees, one a recent humanities graduate and one a current business student to find out how their degrees have prepared them for their roles in a business world.

A Non-Business Graduate

Lucy Robinson graduated in summer 2015 with an undergraduate degree in German and History from King’s College London. She began working at Wayfair in October 2015:

What is your role?

I’m an intern in SEO (search engine optimisation), working in the marketing department.

What is your typical working day like?

We work on monthly projects so my work varies from month to month. I started off writing texts about furniture for our product category pages. Later I led a marketing campaign with our product suppliers. At the moment I’m contacting animal shelters and offering them a donation from the company—this is a really nice task and it’s great to be able to help genuinely worthy and needy causes!

How has your degree prepared you for this role?

I write a lot of texts and emails on a daily basis. Once you’ve written 10,000 words of well-researched, referenced historical analysis in a dissertation, 600 words about kitchen lighting is a breeze!

I think a general respect for learning and knowledge of how you best take in new information (something you learn through note-taking and revision) is a great skill to have when you’re new to a job and there’s lots of new terminology and information to learn.

Having a degree does put you in a better position when applying for jobs, and I would never have been able to move to Germany and apply for business positions without my degree and my ability to speak German.  I had no prior experience in marketing but it hasn’t hindered my performance because I take an interest in the company, have a willingness to learn and have solid computer skills.

Do you think a business degree or a non-business degree would prepare you better for this role?

I think either can be useful for different reasons. If you genuinely love business and want to study it, great—you’ll have more help and guidance on navigating the business world and gaining experience whilst you study. However, life’s too short to not study something you love, and not having a business degree means you don’t have to go in one direction career-wise (which can be a blessing and a curse!).

What advice would you give to someone with a similar educational background looking to pursue a similar career?

Do your research before applying to jobs—I had to do some serious cramming of the basics of SEO for my interview. Thorough research will help you determine if it’s the career for you, it’ll help you write a strong cover letter, and hopefully smash the interview. Once in the job, keep on researching and learning, and you can’t go wrong!

A Business Student

Laura Smith is enrolled on a Business and Marketing Management course at the University of Sunderland. She is currently undertaking an optional work placement as part of her studies and has been working at Wayfair since September 2015:

What is your role?

I am an intern in the marketing department, with a focus on product listing ads (PLAs).

What is your typical working day?

I mainly support bid optimisation for PLAs and build text ads for Google search in the UK for the new, globalised products. My role also involves analysing the campaigns after they have been set live on Google and monitoring whether they are accumulating traffic and revenue.

How has your degree prepared you for this role?

Despite studying business and marketing, I knew very little about online marketing specifically as my course is very general. This is one of the reasons the internship is a valuable experience for me as it allows me to go further in depth into a certain aspect of marketing. Although, I knew very little about online marketing I had studied consumer-buying behaviours, which I can relate to some of the tasks I carry out at work.

Do you think a business degree or a non-business degree would prepare you better for this role?

I don’t believe you have to study a business-related degree to be able fulfil the role. However, I believe it would better your understanding of the objectives and challenges of your role and of the business in general if you have studied something related to business.

What advice would you give to someone with a similar educational background looking to pursue a similar career?

Studying business can be very broad unless you also study a particular field in business as I do, and so I would recommend that business students choose an area to focus on that interests them and then gain as much experience as possible in that field.

To find out more about Wayfair and check out their job opportunities, please visit http://www.wayfair.co.uk/career

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