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Best classes for non-business major to take?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by tkfriend, May 28, 2011.

  1. tkfriend

    tkfriend Member

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    I'm an uprising senior majoring in economics and minoring in math. Other than a class such as financial accounting, which kind of classes are best to take for getting jobs in finance? programming?
     
  2. imschatz

    imschatz Senior member

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    - stochastic calculus .. likely offered via financial math/actuarial science. Black and Scholes is a stochastic calculus model. Likely need to take Master's level financial econ to actually see it, but at least knowing some of the terminology and basic mechanics would be a huge plus. - Any/all econometrics courses. Multivariate, time-series regression - I recall my undergrad Stat department offered courses in Time-Series regression analysis ( ARMA(p,q), VAR(p), SVAR(p) models). and, - Stuff like "corporate finance" is good, but if I could do my whole undergrad over, I'd still avoid accounting classes. Too many people get labeled as accountants, and from job descriptions I've seen .. I'd avoid like the plague. - any classes that have a lab component - ie: most upper-level statistics courses. Anything that gets you fluent in SAS or Matlab. ps: I took math classes to get me into Economics grad school. If I could go back, these are the classes I would have taken, instead of all the linear algebra and differential equations courses I took in prep work for my MA.
     
  3. tkfriend

    tkfriend Member

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  4. Odey

    Odey New Member

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    I would recommend a VBA class if your school offers it.
     
  5. GreenFrog

    GreenFrog Senior member

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    I would recommend a VBA class if your school offers it.

    this plus a basic accounting/financial accounting class
     
  6. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Do remember, college isn't trade school. I recommend taking at least some courses that have nothing to do with your future job.

    The political philosopher Leo Strauss once defined liberal education as "the counter-poison to mass culture." Few receive the education he was referencing, but something is better than nothing.
     
  7. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    The political philosopher Leo Strauss once defined liberal education as "the counter-poison to mass culture." Few receive the education he was referencing, but something is better than nothing.


    I like that.
     
  8. pkblaze100

    pkblaze100 Member

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    I'd have to disagree - assuming you haven't taken any accounting class take at least financial accounting. If you want to do financial matmatics (aka quant) then imschatz has listed some great courses, but if you want to do banking S&T etc take some basic finance courses including whatever your intro to finance class is (for npv, basic dcf type stuff), corporate finance, valuations (for dcf, comparables, Real options) and some type of financial statement analysis course. VBA and spreadsheet modeling (using the mouse in excel is a sin for bankers...) can also be very helpful.

    If you are looking into finance stuff also remember that instead of an MA you should expect to do an MBA
     
  9. Michigan Planner

    Michigan Planner Senior member

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    I have to agree with RSS and would advise you to get outside your comfort zone and not to pick all your electives based on what you think will look good on a resume.

    Take a some poly sci classes like comparative political systems, politics in literature, or public budgeting. Maybe an extra English lit course or a class that focuses on one region of the world that you know nothing about. Take a public speaking class and classes that make you write write write; I cannot believe the quality of some of the writing/work samples I've seen from applicants at entry-level positions on up. Take courses that make you write, and think, in different styles - maybe an entry level journalism class and a business writing class on top of those English lit classes.

    Not only will this make you a more well rounded person and help give you different perspectives into your chosen field, it will make you about 1,000x more interesting to be around once you are at your employer.
     
  10. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Not only will this make you a more well rounded person and help give you different perspectives into your chosen field, it will make you about 1,000x more interesting to be around once you are at your employer.
    I would agree.

    BTW when hiring ... I never simply looked for the most qualified ... but for that person who was both qualified and well rounded. I have to like and enjoy the company of those in my firm ... otherwise it's just not worth it.
     
  11. Odey

    Odey New Member

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    I would agree.

    BTW when hiring ... I never simply looked for the most qualified ... but for that person who was both qualified and well rounded. I have to like and enjoy the company of those in my firm ... otherwise it's just not worth it.


    I 100% agree it's important to be a well-rounded person. However, taking an extra lit class will not help you get hired. If you want to show your interviewer you're a well-rounded person, do it through unique extra-curriculars, volunteering, and hobbies.

    It's hard to recommend a class without knowing exactly what the OP wants to do, the types of classes and quality being offered, and his current skill set. That being said, if the OP wants to work in finance, VBA will be super helpful. I was able to immediately add value as an intern because I could program macros. For what it's worth, I just graduated as an engineer and will be starting full time as a trader next month.
     
  12. otc

    otc Senior member

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    I suppose financial accounting (or something like "reading financial statements") would be useful if you think you might ever have to look at a balance sheet/read a 10k/10q (even if for your own investing). I sort of wish I had taken it even though I know it would have been boring as shit since learning it as you go is also boring as shit and without tests/instruction...a lot of it doesn't stick.

    Avoid anything else that has the word accounting in it.

    Are there any good electives in the physics/engineering departments? A course in electronics or a course that gets you into a machine shop can give you a nice perspective on how things work on the inside or how things are actually made (or what is possible to make) and they give you a fun class to play with tools.

    Take a class that has field trips. Quite possibly my favorite class was one I took in the geophysical sciences department on energy technology. We covered energy generation and use and it involved field trips to a coal power plant, an oil refinery, one of the major national labs, and a nuclear plant.
     
  13. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    I 100% agree it's important to be a well-rounded person. However, taking an extra lit class will not help you get hired. If you want to show your interviewer you're a well-rounded person, do it through unique extra-curriculars, volunteering, and hobbies.

    It's hard to recommend a class without knowing exactly what the OP wants to do, the types of classes and quality being offered, and his current skill set. That being said, if the OP wants to work in finance, VBA will be super helpful. I was able to immediately add value as an intern because I could program macros. For what it's worth, I just graduated as an engineer and will be starting full time as a trader next month.

    Much depends upon what one does for "extra-curriculars, volunteering, and hobbies." Being mentally agile in a particular field -- at the expense of a true liberal education -- may get one hired at the get-go ... but it may also leave one culturally ignorant ... and that can stunt advancement.
     
  14. Michigan Planner

    Michigan Planner Senior member

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    I 100% agree it's important to be a well-rounded person. However, taking an extra lit class will not help you get hired...
    It might not help him get hired but it might definitely help him advance one he is in a position. (And I actually think that it actually could help him get hired since it could give him another thing to talk about in response to some inane interview question or at least another angle. I've interviewed folks for positions and people fresh out of college sometimes come across as total robots or have such a singular mindset about a job and what it entails. Plus, you never know when you might make some veiled Pushkin reference only to find one of the interviewers loves early 19th century Russian poetry.)
     
  15. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    Plus, you never know when you might make some veiled Pushkin reference only to find one of the interviewers loves early 19th century Russian poetry.)
    Sadly very few people under 30 will believe this.
     
  16. JoelF

    JoelF Senior member

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    - stochastic calculus .. likely offered via financial math/actuarial science. Black and Scholes is a stochastic calculus model. Likely need to take Master's level financial econ to actually see it, but at least knowing some of the terminology and basic mechanics would be a huge plus.

    - Any/all econometrics courses. Multivariate, time-series regression - I recall my undergrad Stat department offered courses in Time-Series regression analysis ( ARMA(p,q), VAR(p), SVAR(p) models).

    and,
    - Stuff like "corporate finance" is good, but if I could do my whole undergrad over, I'd still avoid accounting classes. Too many people get labeled as accountants, and from job descriptions I've seen .. I'd avoid like the plague.

    - any classes that have a lab component - ie: most upper-level statistics courses. Anything that gets you fluent in SAS or Matlab.


    ps: I took math classes to get me into Economics grad school. If I could go back, these are the classes I would have taken, instead of all the linear algebra and differential equations courses I took in prep work for my MA.


    And if you somehow actually manage to stay awake through these classes, your prize is guaranteed partnership at Goldman Sachs.
     
  17. Odey

    Odey New Member

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    Much depends upon what one does for "extra-curriculars, volunteering, and hobbies." Being mentally agile in a particular field -- at the expense of a true liberal education -- may get one hired at the get-go ... but it may also leave one culturally ignorant ... and that can stunt advancement.

    Like I said, I 100% agree with a liberal education, not being culturally ignorant, etc. But I feel an extra-curricular class is not the best use of time (atleast in my case, YMMV). I was an engineering major and for extra-curriculars I chose all finance, econ, and accounting courses because I wanted to work as a trader. There were definitely liberal art classes I thought looked interesting but didn't see it as the most productive use of my time. That said, if I wanted a job that would involve writing, I would have taken Lit classes as electives.

    I consider myself a well-rounded person because I am naturally interested in a variety of topics and cultures and follow through with this interest. For example, I was interested in programming so I dove in and wrote an Android app. This is much more interesting to a interviewer than saying "I was interested in programming so I took Computer Science I."

    OP is a econ major/math minor specifically interested in finance or programming so my advice was based off that.
     
  18. stevent

    stevent Senior member

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    Calc, Stats, Ethics/humanities, maybe international related stuff
     
  19. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    OP is a econ major/math minor specifically interested in finance or programming so my advice was based off that.
    Odey, I really do understand what you are saying ... and given the OP you gave the correct advice.

    That said, once someone is away from college, it's most unlikely that person will invest the effort or find the time to round -- via the humanities -- their otherwise hard edges. But then again, in today's self-focused world, few people find such knowledge of use. After all, it has little short term impact on the pocket book.

    I sometimes think that true sophistication is going the way of the dinosaurs. Knowledge beyond that required to succeed in a chosen professional field or socialize successfully within a circle of friends is no longer of interest. Rather than broaden their horizon, most people are becoming ever more self-absorbed in their professional and social universe that very successfully blocks out virtually everything else.

    If one doesn't get a liberal education by the time he finishes college, it's very unlikely to ever be gained. The result is a person forever mired in mediocrity.
     
  20. otc

    otc Senior member

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    If one doesn't get a liberal education by the time he finishes college, it's very unlikely to ever be gained. The result is a person forever mired in mediocrity.

    +1

    Despite going to a school known for giving a pretty liberal education (enforced by a wide range of required classes)...I still wish I had more.

    I do a lot more reading by choice now that I am done with school, but I'm not really just gonna go pick up some Kant or Durkheim even though I can't even remember what they said when I last read selections from their works.
     

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