6 Ways Being a Business Major Has Changed My Life
By Samiha Zaman, Press & Written Media Team
Sometimes I ask myself, How did I end up as a business major?
As a descendant of South Asian immigrants, I grew up in a family favoring STEM careers. Both of my parents studied biology in college, and most of my relatives have likewise pursued careers related to medicine, biology and computer science. However, I’ve never felt the desire to pursue a career in anything STEM-related. Instead, I’ve had dreams of becoming a social entrepreneur, specifically by working with local communities to uplift others.
My business-related inclinations started in high school, when I became the secretary, and later, president of my high school’s Muslim Student Association club. Working within a leadership position motivated me to make positive changes whenever I could. I founded an annual in-school awareness event for World Hijab Day in February, worked with my team to establish Friday prayers and potlucks every week for the Muslim community at school and engaged in various charity and donation projects to help the local community in my city. These projects really made me feel at home. I wanted to pursue a career path that would provide me with the skills to manage similar projects. Thus, I chose business.
By reflecting on my decisions to pursue a business education, I’ve come to accept certain truths about myself. I’ve grown so much since I graduated from high school, and I’ve learned to embrace the different ways I’ve changed as a person due to my major. Here are six reflections I’ve realized since the start of my journey in business education.
1) I’ve become a lot more conscious of my time and its productive value.
One of the earliest lessons I learned in my business classes was the importance of showing up to an interview, meeting or business event on time in order to leave a good impression on others. This applied to many other aspects of my life, including my classes, extracurricular activities and even outings with friends. Previously, I had gone through middle and high school without planning or scheduling anything — just hopping over to events and doing my tasks in a random order. But by looking at each day holistically and determining that I have a certain number of hours to do my tasks (and certain hours to relax as well!), I’m able to prioritize assignments and assign realistic deadlines for myself.
I’ve also found that showing up to events earlier allows me to be comfortable and fully prepared for the event. In turn, I’m encouraged to participate more. On the other hand, being rushed and showing up late causes me to feel as if I’ve missed important information and am consequently not prepared enough to speak up, resulting in less engagement in the event.
2) I’m more open to leadership activities and roles.
I’ve realized that one of my biggest pet peeves is awkward silences; I really can’t stand them. I’ll make myself say something, even if it is inconsequential and maybe off-topic, to mend the discussion. However, I do attempt to say something powerful from a different perspective, hoping that others will pitch in and add depth to keep the discussion flowing smoothly.
This also reflects my attitude when it comes to my college experience — I want to be in constant motion for improvement. I want to be involved in organizations and events where I can develop skills to prepare for my future career. I’m willing to take on leadership roles or projects no matter how small, knowing that these activities help me become a better person and bring me closer to my goals.
3) I’ve become happier with my own style.
Throughout high school, I felt like I didn’t fit in with the rest of the student body due to my hijabs and my penchant for wearing long dresses. But as a college business student, I’ve found that my wardrobe works not only as casual, but also business casual and even business formal. I can mix and match my wardrobe of dresses, hijabs and suit jackets to be creative and stylish. And best of all, it’s easy and stress-free for me, allowing me to focus on more important activities on hand. It’s so convenient now that I sometimes laugh at myself for being overly worried about my appearance in high school.
Because I feel more satisfied about my own appearance, I also feel more prepared to engage in activities that occur in professional settings, whether it’s a group discussion in business class or an interview with a medium-sized company. In the past, I may have held myself back to keep from drawing attention to myself, but I now speak my voice and stand strong with my ideas. I am more willing to create a place for myself now that I feel confident in my style and my own abilities as well.
4) I am more likely to strategize and be creative by spreading my tasks over a longer period of time.
Coming from a high school that offered many advanced classes, I was very used to stacking up assignments and cramming them before the deadline. It worked well, for the most part. I submitted assignments on time and got the grades that I wanted.
However, now that I’m required to work on projects as diverse as creating a business plan for a fictitious company or analyzing a company’s operations to make sustainability-based recommendations, cramming my tasks simply does not work. Instead, I have to plan out each project with a team, complete my assigned tasks over a certain time period and constantly communicate with my team. This not only gives me the chance to work on, revise and polish each task before the final deadline, but it also allows the whole team to stay on the same page, finish the entire project on time and present work that we are all proud to represent in competitions and in front of our professors.
5) I’m a lot more excited to meet new people and make connections.
In middle school, I did online homeschooling and did not physically interact with a lot of students. Soon after, I became anxious about meeting new people and returning to a public high school that was chock-full of other lively humans my age. I found myself struggling with basic social interactions, like saying “good morning” or introducing myself to students. It took practice to become comfortable conversing with strangers.
And now, as a business student who must undertake many different projects over the course of a semester, I constantly greet and introduce myself to people. It’s almost become second nature for me. In addition, through those same projects, I’ve learned the value of staying connected with the people I meet long after a project ends. Not only are we able to motivate and support each other, but we can also share opportunities that can help each other when we need it most.
6) Overall, I’ve become more aware of others.
I’ve learned to listen. To be thoughtful. To congratulate people for their achievements and new internships, and to wish the best for people who are flying on and going beyond. By working in business projects within my classes, I’ve seen the hidden potential some team members have, and I’ve learned that encouraging them to contribute goes a long way with keeping up good team morale. I’ve learned that directly communicating with individuals is a way to become closer to them and to show more empathy. And I’ve learned that we all share goals in some sense, so working together is infinitely better than working alone.
Although I still have time left to continue my business education throughout the rest of my college experience, I’m excited to learn more and incorporate additional meaningful habits into my life to become a productive and successful person. I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to meet so many interesting friends through my education and am proud to call myself a business major at the end of every day!
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