It’s been more than a year since coronavirus delivered a severe economic blow to the country — crippling businesses, shuttering storefronts, and grounding the public at home as companies raced to adapt to a more COVID-friendly approach to daily functioning.
Invaluable support was delivered to many businesses via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which enabled many businesses to survive what could have otherwise been financial ruin due to the effects of the global pandemic. About 5.3 million businesses have received a COVID-related loan or grant in order to maintain payroll, which covers the wages of approximately 74.2 million employees.
The idea of finding post-graduation employment in such an uncertain world has caused some students to shudder. And, as we slowly emerge from the shadow of the pandemic, many of these students are financing their education with credit cards or other high-interest funding options while secretly debating the value of a post-pandemic education.
Luckily, there may not be as much cause to worry as one would think. According to the 2020 Business Response Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the business world is still alive and well in the U.S. While supply shortages have been a common issue, there’s no question that the demand exists. And remarkably, about 44% of all businesses experienced a surge in demand during this time, with just 19% of businesses experiencing a government-mandated closure. That could mean good things for employment after graduation.
To best understand how the employment outlook has been affected by the pandemic, it’s important to take a look at the changes observed in the business world from the experts themselves. As an aspiring student, this should help to give you an idea of what to expect regarding the value of your post-pandemic business degree.
How has Coronavirus Impacted Business?
- Customer relationship management
- COVID has helped humanize even the largest corporations by forcing businesses to personally address unprecedented changes and closures. There has also been a new emergence of digital dependency in the business world. One major example is the use of AI technology to improve chat features, which have been incredibly useful during this time of social distancing.
- Remote work
- With social distancing measures in place, the BLS reports that 31% of businesses moved to a telework format, affecting more than 68 million workers. Industries like education, finance, and insurance were among the industries that saw the largest increases in telework. Productivity was shown to improve, too, with Global Workplace Analytics reporting improved productivity among remote employees./dd>
- Psychological safety
- With the transition of business to a remote digital format, it allows for better collaboration and cohesion among teams. Through features like video conferencing and chat, managers and owners are hearing and appreciating the thoughts and ideas of lower-level employees, whose experience can help guide the company as it transitions to a post-COVID format.
- The Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse October Coronavirus Flash Survey found that 64% of businesses are making a permanent and significant move to remote work, with 32% of companies expected to reduce the office footprint. “Accompanying this is a broader redistribution of IT spending; for many organizations, this means greater spending on IT security, supporting remote/work-from-home employees and digital customer engagement, as well as on cloud-based infrastructure, especially for public cloud,” the survey notes. It’s a key sign that telehealth, teleconferencing, and other digital tools will continue to dominate in a post-COVID world
How Has Coronavirus Impacted Your Degree?
Colleges and universities have also been affected by coronavirus, and many responded by transitioning to a largely online format for learning. This is an added benefit for students, as it is something that will better prepare them for the likely transition to remote work that we’re seeing in business today.
“The COVID world has revealed remote work possibilities. The potential productivity gains possible when organizations provide adequate technological, managerial, and worker support. There are multiple examples of organizations that have now chosen to adopt a remote work policy within their organizations permanently,” Valluri said.
“Tech-supported selling has emerged and will continue to evolve post-COVID,” said Valluri. “Traditionally, both B2C and B2B professional selling roles have emphasized the importance of in-person face-to-face interactivity. However, the COVID era has created a reality where sales leaders have been geographically separated from their customers but have still been able to creatively stay connected by embracing web-based online, video, and teleconferencing technologies.”
A new 2021 report from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) showed that interest in graduate management education programs continues to have impressive growth among prospective students. It also makes for more competition, as many employees who were laid off by their pre-COVID employers are now reentering the job pool and serving as competition against college grads who are just entering the workforce. The increased competition is yet another reason why the GMAC study notes an increased interest in business degrees after the COVID outbreak.
“Supply chains, product offerings, and everything in between have been taken digital,” said John Ross, CEO of online education company Test Prep Insight. “I would make the digital side of business a key focus on my degree program. Take classes that focus on digital advertising, eCommerce, and virtual business communication. These are the classes that are going to give you the most lift post-graduation and will best prepare you for the post-COVID business world.”
And, as demand for business majors grows, some fields that are likely to experience higher demand than others.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), almost half of all U.S. employers are actively hiring business administration degree holders. Business administration is a more generalized field of study that offers several employment options for new and aspiring business graduates.
If you opt to pursue this degree, you can determine the course of your study by choosing a concentration in several associated fields. Your coursework will teach you leadership and management skills while also reviewing the basics of accounting, marketing, and business law.
Whether you choose a large university or a small college for your education, there are several business administration scholarship programs to help foot the bill. Some students can even receive financial assistance from their employers when working toward a career in fields like healthcare management, finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, and nonprofit management.
Business and data analytics
Data analytics is another area of business intelligence where demand is quickly growing. This field of study involves the collection and usage of data to analyze business trends. Based on this information, a business data analyst can suggest and support changes within a company. This type of position is designed to reduce cost, streamline operations, and improve the overall company experience.
This area has become especially important as COVID disrupts businesses that are anxious to get back on-track. With a data analytics degree, graduates can work in positions such as a business intelligence analyst, while serving in key areas such as data science, data mining, data modeling, or big data analytics.
Blockchain and cybersecurity
Juniper Research reports that damages from cyberattacks cost over $2 trillion in 2019 alone. To combat this dangerous trend, companies are investing more money than ever into their IT and security departments. By 2030, experts estimate that global cybersecurity spending will be about $2 billion per year in cyber mitigation. This creates an enormous opportunity for students interested in blockchain and cybersecurity.
As the powerhouse technology behind the Bitcoin revolution, blockchain offers students the chance to work on exciting new cybersecurity mitigation technology in an effort to prevent damaging data breaches and hacking from occurring. You can help businesses transition to digital network platforms by creating a secure place for them to do in business — and in doing so, creating secure employment for yourself, too.
Americans continue to struggle with the economic fallout from COVID-19, which has led to financial professionals being in greater demand than ever before. Whether you want a master’s or a Ph.D. in finance, a career in this field can be incredibly lucrative, with commercial bankers earning a median salary of about $119,000 in mid-career. Financial managers, such as CFOs, can earn a median salary of up to $165,000 per year.
For greater job security, you can also add a specialized concentration in areas like accounting, corporate finance, investments, and statistics. Employers are searching for the best candidates, so it pays to have additional experience and education on your resume, all of which your business degree can deliver.
Tips From Business Experts
How much COVID will affect the business world is anyone’s guess, but already industry professionals are seeing the effects of the pandemic.
Business owner Joshua Tatum expects to see permanent and lasting changes to the post-COVID business world. As the Co-Founder of Canvas Cultures, a community-based marketplace for talented artists, he too has been affected by the increased digital dependency within the business world.
“The future of business has changed forever,” he said. “There is no way to tell how the next few years will shape out, and because of this uncertainty, a degree is extremely important. A degree means a lot for many reasons.”
Modulus is a company that works with NASDAQ and NASA to provide advanced financial technology products and services to financial exchanges, brokerages, trading firms, hedge funds, as well as educational, governmental, and non-profit institutions throughout 94 countries. Modulus’ Chief Communications Officer Chuck Catania has also noted how business has changed throughout COVID.
“What COVID has imparted upon us most is that the ability to adapt can equate to survival,” Catania said. “For proof, just look at all the businesses changing industries, producing toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and masks. But, beyond that, look at how entire industries have had to change the ways they do business — an example being restaurants dealing with capacity limitations and indoor seating during winter, just to name a few.”
It has put a greater emphasis on adaptability in the world of business.
“COVID has certainly impacted the business world, and in many places, for the better,” said Laura Fuentes, Operator of Infinity Dish. A business graduate, Fuentes speaks from personal experience when discussing the importance of a business degree in a post-COVID world.
“I got my business degree back in 2012 and have used it for almost every job I’ve gotten since being out of college,” Fuentes said.
Associate Professor Valluri champions at Minnesota State University, Mankato, echoes Fuentes’ sentiment.
“A business degree is a professional degree and, therefore, a worthwhile investment,” he said. “Today’s students should focus on honing both their technical and soft skills. Become proficient with technology and digital trends and continue developing your general knowledge, writing, and oral communication skills – complement classroom learning with volunteer, internship, and work experiences. Highlight your accomplishments and be able to communicate your professional brand in a compelling way to future employers.”
“Despite popular opinion that business degrees are less valuable than they once were, I honestly believe that they are worth more than ever following COVID,” John Ross of Test Prep Insight said. “The companies that survived and thrived during COVID were the ones that were able to adapt quickly, usually as a result of sharp business acumen.”
It’s part of what a business degree teaches you, along with so much more.
“Business programs teach you so much more than how to create financial models and manage employees. They teach you how to think critically, identify opportunity, and make sound decisions,” Ross said.
“My best advice for students that are either working towards their business diploma or thinking about going to school to get their degree is to do so with an eye towards the digital side of business. COVID has permanently changed the way in which the world works. Yes, the vaccine will be rolled out, and we will get back to some sense of normalcy, but how business operates has fundamentally changed, with a shift to digitalization.”
Even without a global pandemic, a business degree is one of the most versatile degrees that you can attain.
“A business degree equips you with tools in a toolkit that you can rely on as you enter the workforce. The more tools you have and the better those tools are, the more likely that you will succeed,” said Yvonne Cariveau, Director of the Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Minnesota State University, Mankato. “Can you survive without good tools? Sure, but the work is much harder and less efficient.”
“In a post-covid world, a business degree is more important than ever because the work that needs to be done in our region, state, and the world is complex, interconnected, and ever-changing,“ Cariveau said.
Your business degree can help you prepare and succeed in the business world today, even in spite of a global pandemic.
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