Destigmatizing “Business”

When one typically thinks of an undergraduate “business school,” several images often come to mind. Perhaps most common of all is the vision that all business students walk around wearing suits all day, keeping their business cards on hand, and, as one poster in Carnegie Mellon’s Overheard meme page so eloquently put it, preparing to “schmooze people” at a moment’s notice. As much as I hate to admit it, I, myself, came into Tepper with a few misconceptions about business as well, shaped by the likes of television shows, movies, and our society’s pop culture as a whole. What I’ve found since coming here, however, is that those stereotypes and caricatures of a typical “business student” could not have been further from the truth. So, lest you let the narrative of entertainment media sway you from deciding to study business in college, here is the truth about what it means to be a business student at Carnegie Mellon:

 

  1. We do not walk around wearing suits all day.
    • Sorry to disappoint, but despite this common misconception, most of us still adhere to the typical college uniform: sweatpants, jeans, t-shirts, or whatever we’re feeling that day. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a set of nice clothes stashed away at the back of our closets for presentation days and networking events –but so should every college student who wants to avoid the inevitably awkward scramble for “business casual” clothes when an event’s dress code calls for it.
  2. Not all of us are extroverted–nor do you have to be in order to succeed!
    • Especially at a school like Carnegie Mellon, where the business program skews quantitative, gaining energy from interacting with others is far from a requirement of the major. If anything, having a more even mix of introverts to extroverts in the classroom has brought an even greater diversity of opinions and viewpoints to group projects, and, personally, as an introvert myself, I have never felt like I have to act a certain way in order for my opinions to be heard or respected.
  3. Career paths within business aren’t just limited to finance and sales.
    • Despite being the two most common career paths that come to mind when one typically thinks of the field of business –or at least, Hollywood’s version of it, the diversity of future aspirations among my classmates has been great and eye-opening. From accounting to entrepreneurship to business technology and marketing, I, too, have learned of the many interesting areas of business that I can concentrate in while here at CMU, as well as the option of taking an additional major or minor within one of the university’s other departments.
  4. Our interests are diverse –and don’t just involve networking.
    • From varsity athletes to musicians, dancers, cooks, and e-sports enthusiasts, every single business major I’ve met has possessed a unique set of interests outside of their life in the classroom. Some of the coolest so far (though, of course, the scale of coolness doesn’t discriminate): bouldering, jujitsu, badminton, baton twirling…the list goes on and on!
  5.  Most important of all, there is no such thing as a “typical business student.”
    • In case you haven’t realized it by now, there is no such thing as a “typical business student.” Even here at CMU, no one student fits entirely into one mold of how a  typical student “should” be –and neither has anyone else I’ve met belonging to any other major. Even within just this first semester of college, I have gotten to know plenty of friends who have begun to think of transferring, whether that be into a different major within their home college, or into a whole ’nother one college department entirely. After all, that’s what college is all about: exploring your interests, finding out what it is you want to do, and pursuing it with a relentless passion.

Elaine Chen | Undergraduate Business 2022

Elaine is a freshman hoping to major in computational finance or take a minor in computer science. Torn between her love for economics and her love for numbers, she hopes to continue studying both during her time at CMU. In addition to writing, she enjoys cooking, running, and playing table tennis.

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