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5 surprising jobs you can get with a business administration degree

young business employees

Countless business administration graduates take jobs that flow directly from their degrees — as supervisors or account executives, in human resources or finance. For most of them, that's a good thing. Those are great jobs, but they aren't the only possibilities. If you're looking for something that's a little less conventional, your degree has still prepared you, equipping you with skills in critical thinking, communication and organization.

"A business administration degree is not only well respected but also really helpful for students in any industry," said Seth M. Thibodeaux, who works with both undergraduate and graduate students in his role as the associate director of corporate relations and career development in the MBA Program at Louisiana State University.

Get creative! Here are five jobs for business administration graduates that you may have not considered.

1. Public relations specialist

You don't necessarily need a degree in public relations to land a PR job. A business administration degree can prepare you, too: Your classes in marketing and business writing and the campaigns and competitions you likely participated in make you a great candidate, providing you with useful knowledge of how best to represent a company to the outside world.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage as of May 2013 for public relations specialists in the U.S. was $63,020, about $15,000 more than the national average for all jobs. Though that's not guaranteed (especially right out of college), it shows that in the long run, that's not a bad gig. And, as with many business careers, you may have a better chance at landing a PR job if you intern first. Give it a shot!

2. Career management training programs

Training after college may sound like a turn off, but it's totally worth it. Many companies, such as Enterprise and CSX, offer management and leadership training programs where you'll "gain skills and knowledge on how to manage people and operate a business," according to Thibodeaux.

Whether you move up at that company or move on to another, you'll add some on-the-job knowledge and experience to what you learned in school. It can be a great professional complement to your classroom work in business. Best of both worlds!

3. A beginner job at a great company

It may go against every ounce of pride in your soul to take an entry-level position that you could've landed before graduation, but for the right company, it can be a brilliant idea.

"If you're assertive enough, and do a great job, and pour your heart and soul into the position, the likelihood of moving up is high," Thibodeaux said.

Working your way up will give you experience in a variety of roles and allow you to see the company's mission in various contexts. You'll get to meet higher-ups and show them your work ethic and commitment to the company, which may higher your chances of getting a promotion later on. (Merely Google "hire from within" to see how many employers prefer that method.) And you may use an array of knowledge you learned in your business administration program by working at various positions in a company, like in finance, human resources and marketing, depending on the positions. Plus, you'll have the credentials to rise in the corporation.

So whether it's a cashier position at Whole Foods Market or a customer service job at Zappos.com, these jobs can be the beginning of a long career with an excellent company.

4. Public service and volunteer programs

Want to put something really interesting and meaningful on your resume? Join something like the Peace Corps or Teach For America. According to Thibodeaux, you won't directly use your business degree, but you'll use some of the skills you acquired. These skills may include communication (talking to students all day), organization (putting together lesson plans or gathering up volunteers) and leadership (leading kids or volunteer projects).

Plus, this will show employers that you care. A lot of companies look for passion and heart as much as they do a degree and skills. You'll be hard-pressed to find an employer who finds these programs a waste of time or sees them as a negative element on your resume.

You get to live somewhere new, do some real good in the world and separate yourself from a lot of other job applicants. If you can pass the application process, you shouldn't pass up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

5. A business journalist

Although many journalism jobs may say they prefer a journalism, English or communications degree, you may make for a compelling applicant for a business journalist, with your in-depth knowledge of how a business functions. Combine that with writing skills and some experience at your college paper or an internship and you may be able to really set yourself apart.

Whether it's a business-specific publication or the business section of a newspaper, magazine or website, a career as a business journalist can use your degree and prove integral to the business world and the world at large, as you highlight business news and simplify business ideas for readers.

At all of these less common post-graduation jobs, you'll use your skills for something unexpected and get a great start to your career. What's better than that?

Sources:

Management Training and Leadership Development Programs, CSX,
http://www.csx.com/index.cfm/working-at-csx/job-overviews/management-trainees/

Enterprise Management Training Program, Enterprise Careers,
http://www.erac.com/opportunities/mng-training-program.aspx

Seth M. Thibodeaux, Associate Director of Corporate Relations and Career Development in the Flores MBA Program at Louisiana State University, Interviewed by the author, September 2014

Occupational Employment and Wages: Public Relations Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, April 1, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273031.htm