According to the most recent data from the Digest of Education Statistics, more degrees are conferred every year in business than in any other major field of study (roughly 358,000 during the 2009-10 academic year). Business education prepares students for a wide range of career pathways, from management and financial services to human resources and logistical planning. Read on to learn more about web-based organizations, online courses, web journals, and other valuable business resources you can access with the click of a mouse.
Student & Professional Organizations
Business graduates should obtain membership with at least one prominent professional organization in order to launch a successful career. The following organizations sponsor annual training events to help young professionals learn new skills, host seminars that allow them to build their network, and provide online resources they can access anytime.
- Alpha Kappa Psi - The country's oldest and largest business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi (ΑΚΨ), sponsors the Principled Business Leadership Institute, an annual, five-city seminar and scholarship competition for business students and young professionals. There are currently more than 13,000 college students enrolled at campuses nationwide.
- Beta Gamma Sigma - Beta Gamma Sigma (ΒΓΣ) is one of the nation's most prominent academic honor societies, as well as one of the largest , with roughly 725,000 members worldwide. The organization's website features an extensive 'Career Center' with links to employers, professional tutorials, and other valuable resources. ΒΓΣ works closely with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the leading accreditation agency for academic business programs in the United States.
- Future Business Leaders of America - FBLA - a non-profit organization headquartered in Virginia - hosts more than a dozen conferences nationwide every year, and sponsors other programs aimed at high school students, college students, and young professionals. Members receive access to educational resources, corporate discounts, and the opportunity to join regional management teams and compete for recognition awards.
- Business Professionals of America - The BPA is a professional organization that focuses on improving technical and technological skills at U.S. workplaces. Every year, the BPA hosts a series of state and local seminars that culminate in the National Leadership Conference, where more than 6,000 members can meet to exchange ideas and business proposals; the 2014 event will be held in Indianapolis from April 30 to May 4.
- National Black MBA Association - The NBMBAA concentrates on African-American men and women who have studied business at the college level and are about to pursue advanced degrees or launch their careers. The organization's website offers a wide range of educational resources, such as GMAT test prep, scholarship opportunities, and information about the NBMBAA's Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program.
- National Association for the Self-Employed - One of the premier organizations for entrepreneurs and freelance professionals in the United States, the NASE allows members to apply for support grants (up to $5,000), gain exclusive access to online tax and business experts, and receive discounts from UPS, TurboTax, and other services for startup companies.
- Council of Urban Professionals - The CUP emphasizes diversity among today's business leaders, the organization builds on this mission with the CUP Leadership Institute, Seat at the Table Initiative, and other programs aimed at women and members of underrepresented minority groups. Members pay different annual rates for Associate, Executive, and Senior Executive membership.
In recent years, open courseware has proven to be an innovative go-between for students who want to earn a business education, but have neither the budget nor the time to commit to a full-fledged degree program. Some of the most prominent academic institutions in the world currently offer free courses that cover a wide range of business-oriented skills, practices, and discipline.
- Management Communication for Undergraduates - MIT - This course, taught by Dr. Lori Breslow and Dr. Terence Heagney, demonstrates the fundamentals of effective communication within a professional workplace. Students learn managerial techniques for writing memos, delivering presentations, working in a team, and communicating to employees with varying cultural backgrounds.
- Statistical Thinking and Data Analysis - MIT - This course delivers a detailed explanation of the mathematical formulas and algorithms behind effective management. Sampling distributions, nonparametic statistics, hypothesis testing, and other practices will be discussed, and students will have the opportunity to perform their own analyses in order to properly master different techniques.
- Practical Information Technology Management - MIT - This course focuses on the foundations of technology management, including processes, systems, IT infrastructure, and corporate strategy. Students will learn about ways to use technology in order to introduce new systems, manage projects and teams, and even improve workplace behaviors and attitudes. A Chinese version of this course is also available.
- Competition in Telecommunications - MIT - Telecommunications is one of the country's largest corporate subsectors, and this course discusses the economical, technological, and cultural factors behind the successes (and failures) of some notable firms. The course will also delve into contemporary telecommunications trends, such as wireless technology and the Internet as a major media platform. A Chinese version of this course is also available.
- Financial Markets - Yale - Robert J. Schiller, a Fellow at the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management, instructs this course that explore the various "ideas, methods, and institutions" that are relevant to the global economy. The all-encompassing curriculum delves into topics like finance, risk management, and the importance of effective securities, banking practices, and insurance coverage.
- Game Theory - Yale - Game Theory is one of the most innovative business practices to emerge out of the 20th century, and this course from Professor Ben Polak explores the origins and worldwide impact of this groundbreaking strategy. As an introduction to Game Theory, the course explores fundamental topics like backward induction, Nash equilibrium, and adverse selection; the curriculum also includes many practical sessions, during which students apply these concepts while playing actual games.
- Fundamentals of Business Analysis - UC Irvine - Business analysts act as organizational intermediaries between shareholders, CEOs and other executive leaders, the general workforce, and consumers. This introductory course uses the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) as its main reference point; upon completion, students may seek Certified Business Analyst Professional credentials from the International Institute of Business Analysis.
Open Access Journals
Historically, academic journals were exclusively reserved for paid subscribers. In recent years, however, some publishers have leveled the playing field by offering open access journals, which are available at no charge to anyone with an Internet connection. For cash-strapped college graduates who are in the early stages of their careers, these open access publications are a godsend.
- American Journal of Economics and Business Administration - This quarterly, peer-reviewed journal from Science Publications publishes articles that explore the finer points of both domestic and global markets. Many entries focus on contemporary business and economics issues, such as e-commerce, green technology, and markets in emerging countries. Science Publications also hosts journals that focus on fields like nursing, statistics, and bioinformatics.
- American Journal of Industrial and Business Management - This journal from Scientific Research Open Access (SCIRP) focuses on various topics within three general areas: business management, industrial engineering and management, and information management. More than 20 countries are represented on the journal's editorial board, so not surprisingly most entries focus on global implications and applications. SCIRP hosts more than 350 different journals that cover a wide range of disciplines.
- Business and Economic Journal - This journal from the OMICS Geoup concentrates on topics related to improving the production of goods and services at every level - a discipline also known as supply chain management. Additionally, entries explore financial planning, banking research, marketing, taxation policy, and other fields that influence the way business operate and supply chains are managed.
- Business Intelligence Journal - This semi-annual journal represents a collaborative effort between Cambridge University's European Business School and the Belgium-based School of Doctoral Studies of the European Union. Designed to be an all-encompassing publication, BIJ covers everything from business law and human resources to marketing theory and management systems.
- Case Studies in Business, Industry and Government Statistics - This semi-annual journal, which is affiliated with Bentley University and the French Statistical Society, focuses on data collection and statistical analysis techniques used by both private companies and government agencies. In the five years since its inception, CSBIGS has published articles and case studies that not only discuss different strategies for obtaining data, but also the different ways these figures can be interpreted.
- Contemporary Marketing Review - This monthly, international journal specializes in "sound theoretical and clear insights with future practical and actionable implications for the well being of stakeholders of the society as a whole." Past entries are a mix of case studies, research papers, and book reviews; the journal is geared not only toward members of the academic community, but also business managers, executive officers, and other leaders in the business world.
- Journal of Business & Financial Affairs - This OMICS publication focuses on the three core areas of finance - public, corporate, and personal - and the various factors that contribute to each. Some of the most recent entries include: 'Taxation and Regulation of Financial Markets: Working Towards a Hard Fought Equilibrium,' 'Are Financial Markets Efficient?' and 'A Pleasant Reading of GARCH Model.'
- Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies - This journal emphasizes the social, cultural, and economic implications that govern the relationships between different nations, as well as the dynamics that coexist within a given country. The AABRI also hosts conferences throughout the year at various cities around the United States, where contributors may present their published work and network with other members of the academic community.
As with any field, there is a class of business and economics books that are considered must-reads for any aspiring business professional. You can choose any kind of business text, from how tos, to business theories to biographies from CEOs you admire. Here's a list to start with:
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Other's Don't - This 2001 book by Jim Collins introduces the notion that some companies are equipped with "DNA" that essentially predetermines their success, and then explores companies that have a tougher time during their beginning stages. Collins' underlying message: some firms get off to a rockier start than others, but it's never too late for a company to go from "good to great."
- The One Thing You Need to Know:...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success - This work from Cambridge alumni Marcus Buckingham (who also penned the bestselling First, Break All the Rules) focuses on the three fundamental areas of professional achievement: management, leadership, and career success. The author interviewed dozens of individuals, from chief executive officers to bellhops, to research The One Thing.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable - Patrick Lencioni discusses the dos and don'ts of teamwork and ideation with the fictional story of Kathryn Peterson, a tech company CEO who is facing a workforce management crisis. Lencioni is no stranger to this type of storytelling; his previously published work includes fables geared toward CEOs and senior corporate executives.
- Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco - This story of unprecedented corporate egotism spotlights Ross Johnson, who served as the CEo of Nabisco in the 1980s and oversaw the company's hostile takeover by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in 1987. The authors, Bryan Burrough and Jon Helyar, structure their book like a grand drama, complete with a detailed cast of characters page; the result is a work that, when it appeared more than 20 years ago, was both critically acclaimed and smashingly successful.
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - What's the force that compels us to stake our claim in the business world? In Drive, Daniel H. Pink argues that it's our innate need to create, learn, and explore the world around us - and not greed - that motivates today's most successful corporate leaders. Pink also explores what he terms the "three elements of true motivation": autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
- The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence - Thomas J. Peters is one of the most respected gurus in today's business community, and this compendium of good ideas represents his decades-long career in the trenches of professional management. Published in 2012, The Little Big Things explores ways for American company leaders and entrepreneurs to carve out a successful niche for themselves, particularly in the struggling, post-recession economy.
- Winning - Jack Welch spend 40 years with General Electric, 20 as the CEO, and this book - part self-help, part memoir - offers invaluable advice for today's business leaders. Following an introductory section that reveals Welch's business philosophy, Winning is divided into three thematic segments: company management, the nature of corporate competition, and strategies for self-management.
- Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies - Penned by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, this thorough analysis of effective (and ineffective) corporate strategies contains hundreds of specific examples from a pool of 18 past and present companies, as well as predictions for the nature of business in the years to come.
Online Industry Magazines
Magazines that focus on different aspects of the business world are a terrific source of information and ideas for young professionals. While print publications have been in serious decline for the last few years, these business magazines that have successfully adapted to the digital age have thrived with online readers.
- Bloomberg Businessweek - Businessweek has served as one of the country's most prominent corporate magazines since it was founded in 1929 (just weeks before the Stock Market Crash). Today, the magazine focuses on areas like global economics, politics and policy, and innovation and design; it also releases an annual list of the world's best business schools.
- CEO World - Arguably the finest web-based publication specifically aimed at executive officers, this magazine caters to both leaders of established corporations and burgeoning entrepreneurs. The website features a plethora of blogs and editorial pages, as well as live-streaming market updates.
- Entrepreneur - If you've ever dreamed of launching your own startup company, this publication is essentially required reading. The magazine features plenty of interviews with successful entrepreneurs and business analysts, profiles of rising companies, and advice related to both marketing strategies and technological optimization.
- Fast Company - Introduced in 1995 by two former editors of the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company concentrates on technology, innovation, and design in today's corporate climate. The magazine sponsors three franchises: the Most Innovative Companies, Most Creative People in Business, and Masters of Design.
- Forbes - Long regarded as one of the nation's premier financial publications, Forbes has branched out since launching its website and today also focuses on academics, international development, entertainment, and lifestyle journalism. Forbes is also known for its annual lists, including the 400 richest Americans and the world's most successful companies.
- Fortune - This global business publication is best known for the Fortune 500, an annual list of the world's 500 most successful companies that serves as a reference point for insiders and analysts across the globe. Additionally, Fortune publishes articles related to health and lifestyle, entertainment, travel, design, and technology.
- Inc. - Founded in 1979, this monthly publication emphasizes "small business ideas and resources for entrepreneurs." Every year, Inc. publishes a list of the country's 500 fastest-growing firms, as well as a list of the top 5,000 American companies in terms of revenue percentage growth. The magazine is also renowned for its extensive archive of video tutorials and lectures.
- The Economist - In business for more than 170 years, this bi-weekly, London-based publication focuses on international business affairs. Each issue provides an extensive rundown of the world's most notable stories linked to business and economics; the magazine's website also features more than 20 blogs that focus on specific areas of corporate activity.
In contrast to magazines and academic journals, business blogs feature informative-yet-casual articles and posts related to today's most pressing economic issues. In addition to entrepreneurial blog sites, many well-renowned higher learning institutions have begun to offer business blogs for the web-going public to enjoy.
- Harvard Business Review - This monthly publication is the official management publication from what is arguably the finest university in the United States. The HBR website features all of the articles that go into the print version, as well as dozens of blogs, video lectures, webinars, and other resources for both business students and working professionals.
- Washington Post Business Blogs - The Washington Post is widely considered to be one of the country's finest newspapers, and its online blog selection offers something for every reader. Michelle Singletary's 'The Color of Money' explores topics related to personal finance, Thomas Heath's 'Value Added' discusses effective business strategies across a wide range of sectors, and Allan Sloan's 'Deals' reviews current market trends.
- Young Entrepreneur - From online marketing and networking to the dos and don'ts of supply chain management, this user-friendly blog (sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine) explores the finer points of launching and successfully maintaining a startup company. Many of the site's most recent posts emphasize current concerns, such as the economic recession and the importance of utilizing social media in order to reach a wider audience.
- All About Finance - Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, who serves as the Director of Research for the World Bank, hosts this blog that discusses the importance of economics and money management as it related to successful businesses. The blog will celebrate its fourth anniversary in January 2014; the archive contains more than 200 entries.
- Business Insider - As the name suggests, Business Insider publishes numerous articles related to all aspects of corporate management, with a particular emphasis on technology, finance, and market trends. However, the blog also features information about politics, entertainment, travel, and lifestyle topics, as well.
- MarketingSherpa - More than three dozen staff bloggers contribute to this public research firm that offers sage marketing advice to the webgoing public. Much like the Himalayan mountain guides that give MarketingSherpa its name, site contributors strive to "give marketers of the world the stats, inspiration, and instructions to improve their results."
Who to Follow on Twitter
Twitter has revolutionized the way business leaders, analysts, and journalists communicate with the public. By obtaining a Twitter account, today's young professionals can follow some of the industry's leading players, network with like-minded individuals, and stay informed of relevant business news and trends.
- @NYTSmall Biz - This official Twitter handle of the New York Times Small Business page is designed to be a virtual forum for entrepreneurs, business managers, and consultants to voice their opinions and connect with one another.
- @SBAgov - The account hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration provides links to news articles, advice columns, video tutorials, and other resources geared toward entrepreneurs and company leaders.
- @GuyKawasaki - Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley-based author, investor, and business consultant who has worked with companies like Apple, Google, and Motorola. His handle shares dozens of helpful links, inspirational quotes, and other resources every day.
- @dharmesh - This is the official Twitter handle of Dharmesh Shah, a MIT-educated entrepreneur who co-founded HubSpot and later founded the successful business blog, OnStartups.com. Mr. Shah posts plenty of articles and editorial columns, but his handle is especially active thanks to his 200,000+ followers.
- @randfish - Rand Fishkin is the founder and CEO of Moz, a Seattle-based inbound marketing software program founded in 2004. Mr. Fishkin posts and retweets various articles geared toward SEO, startup management, and entrepreneurial networking.
- @Smallbizlady - Voted by Forbes as the country's most influential woman for entrepreneurs, Melinda Emerson's highly successful Small Biz Lady blog will celebrate its fifth anniversary in January 2014. She tweets dozens of article and video links every day for her nearly 250,000 Twitter followers.
- @smallbiztrends - This is the official Twitter handle of Anita Campbell, the founder, CEO, and publisher of Small Business Trends LLC. Ms. Campbell has been touted by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the U.S. Small Business Administration for her managerial expertise.