Business Careers

"Business" is an all-encompassing term that could describe nearly all forms of economic or entrepreneurial activity. Brown students and recent alumni interested in business careers typically look for internships or first jobs in the fields described below. Companies in these fields recruit on university campuses every fall. We encourage all students interested in business careers to consult CareerLAB's Jobs & Internships page and to follow our on-campus recruitment calendar. You will also find Vault's CareerInsider a useful tool in researching a variety of professional fields. 

Banking/Finance

The finance industry examines capital and money markets and provides the analytical tools to operate within an ever-changing economy domestically and internationally. Financial services professionals are the people who, in a very direct way, deliver the capital and financial management critical to all business.

Those in corporate finance are involved in raising money through the issuance of stocks or bonds, investment of various corporate funds and the collection and disbursement of funds to stakeholders.

Corporate, public and other financial officers often enlist the help of outside experts: Investment bankers help their clients create issues of stocks, bonds, or other types of securities; they also underwrite (insure) and help market those securities. In addition, investment bankers often advise clients on mergers, acquisitions and other actions that have a financial impact. Investment banks include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays.

Portfolio/asset managers invest money for public and corporate pensions, charitable foundations and educational endowments and individuals. Some portfolio management firms are independently owned, either by employees or by public shareholders; some are subsidiaries of banks, insurance companies or non-financial corporations. Some asset management firms are BlackRock, Fidelity and CalPERS.

Brokers and traders execute portfolio managers’ orders to buy or sell stocks, bonds, or other securities such as futures, options and commodities. Brokerage firms are usually affiliated with investment banks. Brokers also may offer research on investment strategies and various securities.

Consulting

Consultants work with clients to identify problems and devise solutions. The nature of the work draws heavily on well-developed analytical skills, interpersonal abilities, and an eagerness to learn. Consulting frequently involves reducing costs, planning new strategic initiatives, increasing revenue, or identifying new markets. To better assist clients, consultants become familiar with broader trends in the industry in which they practice.

Consulting is a diverse field that attracts recent graduates from varied academic backgrounds. It is a dynamic field well-suited to Brown students’ and alumni's broad-based education. Some of the well-articulated consulting fields are health care consulting (e.g. SG2Advisory Board Company), technology-focused consulting (e.g. DeloitteAccenture), political risk consulting (e.g. Control Risks GroupEurasia Group) and management consulting (e.g. McKinsey and Co.Bain CapitalBoston Consulting Group). Lastly, there are large consulting firms that offer services in many industries, as well as in-house consulting units within large firms. 

Management

"Management" is a broad term that encompasses all aspects of governing an organization. Managers sets task priorities and coordinate individual and team efforts to accomplish organizational goals.

Organizations have more or less well-defined chains of supervision. Depending on their size, they may have sets of low, middle-level, and upper-level managers. Managers higher in the organizational structure are responsible for strategic planning and setting broader institutional objectives, while lower-level managers may focus more on the specific implementation of business policies and human resources management. Because many organizations are complex and are frequently looking for ways to increase their competitiveness in the marketplace, they look for expertise from outside to assist them with streamlining their organizational structure and functions. Many students and recent alumni interested in the field may start work in management consulting roles. 

Real Estate

The real estate market is complex and inextricably connected to the current and projected state of the economy. As an industry it lies at the intersection of entrepreneurship and federal, state, and local law. Key economic factors such as interest rates, inflation, employment, savings rates, credit practices, and consumer sentiment have an impact on the industry, which in turn affects these factors. The two main sub-divisions of the industry are commercial and residential.

Real estate sales agents must obtain a license subject to state regulations. Real estate brokers are typically professionals with substantial experience as agents. The business relies heavily on specialists in property appraisal, land and construction development, investing, property management, and marketing. The responsibilities of interns or employees in entry positions in the industry largely depend on the type of company in which they work. Many internships are in marketing, investment or consulting, spanning both residential and commercial real estate. Social media, computer, and computational skills can be helpful in seeking such an internship. An urban studies and sociology background can also be helpful. 

Professionals with experience in the field who wish to develop their careers further may consider a Master of Real Estate, a Master of Science in Real Estate Development, or an MBA with a real estate concentration.

Accounting

Accounting involves the maintenance and oversight of finance records for all business operations. Accountants record expenditures, revenue, business transactions, salaries, and benefits, while helping to craft and implement strategies for efficiency gains, mergers and acquisitions, and tax management. Many Chief Financial Officers of successful corporations have backgrounds in accounting. The main subfields of the profession are Tax Accounting, Management Accounting, and Audit Accounting.

Competent accountants are always in demand nation-wide. There are a number of ways in which you can start a career in this field.  Most bookkeepers have a 2-year degree from a vocational education program. Many employers prefer to hire candidates with an undergraduate or graduate degree in Accounting (see Business Degrees page). Bachelor degree holders could start with a position in a large public accounting company, where hands-on training will prepare you for the job. Getting started at a large firm could be most valuable for the broad-based experience you will gain.

The best way to prepare for a career in accounting is to pursue a broad liberal education in conjunction with internships that provide you with experience in relevant areas of business. Courses in mathematics, computer science, and engineering will develop the technical skills needed in accounting. Strong communication skills are essential, so look for courses and co-curricular opportunities that will develop your interpersonal and verbal skills. Foreign language abilities are increasingly important, as well, and can distinguish you from a large pool of applicants for relevant internships and jobs. When hiring accountants, employers look not only for applicants with technical skills, but also with a demonstrated familiarity with other aspects of business. Internships related to consulting, sales, and marketing can provide valuable hands-on experiences.  

Professional accounting certificates include Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Management Accountant (CMA). A few of the large employers are PricewaterhouseCoopersDeloitte & ToucheErnst & YoungKPMG, McGladrey & Pullen, and Grant Thornton.