Which business degree should I get?

labour market: Career entry For Economist

More and more economists are pouring into the job market. But their expertise is also needed almost everywhere. The main thing: a clear profile.

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What are the job prospects?

Solid - that's how you can describe the job market for economists. That sounds boring, but these are good conditions for job seekers. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) notes that unemployment figures are stable at a low level. It should stay that way for now. "There are currently no major changes," says Susanne Lindner, labor market expert at the BA.

The fact that more and more economists are pouring into the labor market because there are more and more business students suggests increased competition in the next few years. Lindner still assesses the situation as uncritical. The labor market for economic experts is still receptive. You benefit from the fact that your specialist knowledge in areas such as controlling or sales is needed in almost every company, regardless of the industry. If an industry is not doing so well, there are alternatives.

In the JobTrends study by the Staufenbiel Institute, almost 70 percent of the companies stated that they needed business graduates. Graduates are primarily sought for sales, controlling and project management. There is also demand for young talent for the HR departments and corporate finances. Business graduates are particularly sought after by management consultancies - 80 percent are looking for young people with a business degree. For comparison: In the automotive industry and in the IT and telecommunications sector, this only applies to around half of the companies. The demand from banks fell sharply, and many institutes restricted their search for new talent due to the poor business situation.

Does business administration fit?

To the study interest test

The big corporations are the most popular employers for business graduates. But it is worthwhile to also take a look at medium-sized companies. "There are many attractive positions there, you have more responsibility more quickly and you can see what you are doing," says Matthias Meyer-Schwarzenberger, Managing Director of the Federal Association of German Economists.

Where are there positions for economists?

The job market for economists is tiny compared to the large fields of business activity. According to the Federal Employment Agency, only one percent of economists who are subject to social security contributions work in the "Economics" sub-area. Banks, research institutes and the public service, but also some corporations, are particularly looking for economists. "We need the skills of economics graduates in certain areas, for example in managing our company pensions or where the analysis of regional growth markets is involved," says Markus Strothjohann, Head of Human Resources at the automotive supplier Continental. Because the economics course usually also teaches fundamental business subjects, other positions are also open to economists. Strothjohann advises anyone who later wants to work in a company should increasingly take business administration courses and do internships in companies during their studies.

How can you score points with companies?

For many large companies, good grades are considered an entry ticket to be invited to a job interview. But they are almost never the only hiring criterion. "We don't have an automatic grade filter, we look at every application," says Markus Strothjohann from Continental. Just as important, sometimes even more important, is practical experience. Internships for companies can then also last longer than three months. For this you can also extend the standard period of study a little. Those who write their bachelor's or master's thesis in cooperation with a company also get a good insight into everyday working life.

The content of the studies and internships should result in a clear profile. Experience abroad and a very good command of English are especially important if you want to work in an international company. What you can and know should be related to the requirements of the position and the company. "Even if the advertisements are general, it is important to include references to your own curriculum vitae in the application letter," says Strothjohann. Young professionals with a bachelor's degree should attach particular importance to practical experience. In principle, with a bachelor's degree in economics, you have a good chance of finding a job. But because many companies are still unsure what exactly they can expect from bachelor graduates, one has to convey what one can do and how that will benefit the company. In some companies, for example at Bosch, only masters graduates have access to certain positions and trainee programs.

Does the pursuit of profit only count in the job?

For many companies, sustainable management and social responsibility are always higher on the agenda, be it because they seriously want to change something, or because they want to do something for their image. But no matter what the reasons: Especially in corporations there are entire corporate social responsibility departments that should ensure that social responsibility is not neglected in all pursuit of profit. There one observes which effects the company's actions have on the environment and people, and considers which ecological or social measures could therefore be sensible. The ideas range from material savings in production to the introduction of stricter environmental and health standards in the supply chain.

Anyone who wants to start out as a newcomer to the sustainability sector should be able to use terms such as life cycle assessment, sufficiency or degrowth and share the company's ecological and social convictions. A specialization in sustainability topics in the course is interesting, says Erik Poppe, board member at the management consultancy Sustainum, which advises companies on the topic of sustainability and life cycle assessment. Methodical and analytical skills are also crucial. "For example, you have to master the statistical tools of the trade and be able to quickly grasp the problem a customer is facing." You also have to have a certain pragmatism. "Not all companies that we advise share our convictions one hundred percent. You have to be able to deal with them."

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Poppe observes an increasing interest of graduates in the topic, in recent years Sustainum has received more and more speculative applications. As an applicant, you have an advantage in companies with a focus on ecology and sustainability if you are involved in society. It doesn't necessarily have to be an eco-project. "Before my job here, I organized concerts against the right," says Poppe, "that was the subject of the interview."

What is important when founding a business?

In addition to large corporations and medium-sized companies, start-ups also rely on the expertise of economists. "The most successful start-up teams with technical and economic know-how," says Bernhard Plum, who heads the innovation and start-up center at Furtwangen University and who has written a guide on setting up a business for university graduates.

Some universities offer their students and graduates support and advice on setting up a business. In addition, some degree programs also offer courses that prepare students for entrepreneurship. They are called, for example, "Entrepreneurship", "Business Planning" or "Start-up and Innovation Management". With a bit of luck, your achievements there will also be recognized for your studies.

Established companies also often like it when applicants set up a business during or after their studies. "We ask people with start-up experience, for example, in the area of ​​business development, especially when it comes to which digital business models are economically viable," says Markus Strothjohann from Continental. Bernhard Plum, the startup expert from Furtwangen University, observes that founders often later get top jobs in companies. One possible explanation: those who start a company learn a lot about their motivation, resilience and ability to work in a team and thus get to know themselves better. The company that hires the founders also benefits from this.