Choosing a Business Stream

Self Help: Choosing a Business Stream

Are you in one stream of our Business program (e.g., Marketing, Finance, HR, etc) and thinking of switching? Or perhaps you are in the Business - General diploma and thinking about specializing?

The first consideration when trying to decide which stream of Business is best for you is that any program is taking you toward a set of career outcomes, so it is not so much about choosing the right program as it is about choosing the kind of work & career that is right for you.

Which path to choose?Just like an airplane is a route to a destination, before you can book a flight you need to know where it will land and what it is like in that place—this is what helps you decide if you want to travel there. So, when it comes to choosing a Business program stream, the basic process is:

  1. List the Business program streams you are considering and become aware of their career outcomes.
  2. Research information on those outcomes.
  3. Compare and assess those career outcomes to determine which are best suited to you.
  4. Select the Business program stream most closely aligned with those career outcomes.

This self-help series will guide you through each of these steps. Working through this process will better prepare you to consult with a Career Counsellor, or it may even be sufficient to help you make the choices you need to.

STEP 1: List the Business program streams you are considering and become aware of their career outcomes.

“If I take this stream or that stream of Business where will it lead?”

There are several ways to become aware of the career field(s) any particular Business stream can lead to. We’ll get to researching and better understanding these fields in Step 2. For now, just become aware of the occupations and industries each stream may take you to by using some or all of these sources:

  • Look up relevant Sheridan Program Pages and click on the Career Opportunities section.
  • Try looking up Alumni Profiles of recent and past grads from streams you are considering.
  • Program Coordinators can also be a rich source of information on program career outcomes, but be sure you have used the online resources first before you ask their time on this question.

As you discover potential occupations and industries for each stream you are considering, keep in mind that not all options are immediately obtainable upon graduation. Some may require additional experience, accreditation or education/training.

STEP 2: Research information on those outcomes.

“Now I know sample job titles and career fields but what do they involve?”

Continuing the travel analogy, some people want to know a lot about where they may journey to, while some others just want the basics. Also, different aspects of destinations are important to different people. Consider what you need to know about the career outcomes you listed in Step 1. This chart summarizes some essential research sources.

What do you want to know about the career? BASIC DETAILS COMPREHENSIVE INFO
Duties & responsibilities NOC (Career Dictionary) Career Cruising
Working conditions & career progression   Career Cruising
Income possibilities Working in Canada  
Future outlook Ontario Job Futures Canadian Occupational Projection System
Sample job postings Working in Canada  

Browse the sites shown above or, for direct access to occupational and labour market information relevant to particular Sheridan programs, find the business streams you are interested in on the Idea Generator program list - click on the program to reveal sub-buttons which link you to this information.

STEP 3: Compare and assess those career outcomes to determine which are best suited to you.

“How do I know which career field(s) are better fits for me?”

An important concept in effective career and educational planning is to make career choices which reflect you, rather than ending up in a career or program for no particular reason and then trying to change too much of yourself to suit it. The better your career suits your unique attributes, the more likely the chances for success and satisfaction.

As you review the information you gathered in the previous step, here are four basic questions worth considering:

4 factors of good career fit

  • What do I enjoy doing? (Interests) Do you feel interested, engaged and motivated by the career outcomes a particular program stream leads to? Your career should be something you can  imagine yourself wanting to get out of bed most days to do!
  • What suits my style? (Personality) Think about how you tend to interact with the people, information and things in the world around you. When you read about particular career outcomes, does it feel like "you"? Nothing is perfect, but does it generally suit your personality and temperament?
  • What can (and can’t) I do well? (Abilities) As you learn more about certain careers and programs, the better fits may be those which build on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
  • What is important to me? (Work Values) There are many possible sources of satisfaction, tangible and not. Pay is a tangible thing your career will provide but what about intangibles like independence, variety, physical activity, social interaction, or altruism, just to name a few?

It is difficult to decide where to go if you don’t know where you are starting from. If you need to better understand the 4 elements of your vocational identity, try some of the self-assessment resources available on Career QuickTips or for detailed guidance try the Career Planning Micro-Course.

Understanding yourself is where it can be most helpful to get professional advice and/or assessment from a Career Counsellor.

STEP 4. Select the Business program stream most closely aligned with those career outcomes.

“I better understand the career outcomes my intended program stream leads to. What else should I know before choosing that stream?"

Now that you have gathered and compared information on career outcomes, the final step is to learn about the academic content of the Business stream which leads to those outcomes. That way, you are in-the-know about both the destination and the journey to it. You don’t want to be surprised by, for example, the depth of math required, etc.

  • At a minimum, find the program page for the stream you are considering and then look-up the course list... not just for the first year, but for the full program.
  • If you are looking at that course list and find it difficult to know what kind of a course those brief titles are describing, you can look up any course code (e.g., FINA 11079) and locate the course outline which students receive in the first week of classes. That document will greatly help you understand the outcomes, topics and evaluation methods in any course.
  • Another helpful piece of information my may be the Co-op capabilities profile. Even if you are not planning on going into Co-op, these charts show the essential skills and competencies you will gain as you progress through the program. Select the paperclip icon in the More Info column for your intended program stream.

Hopefully, working through these 4 steps has helped you choose your Business program stream. These are big choices and you can never be 100% certain but by gathering this information about both careers and the program itself you have significantly raised the likelihood of making an effective choice! Remember that you are welcome to consult with a Career Counsellor for guidance, or additional perspective, if you want to speak with someone about this important decision.

Congrats on thinking it through!! Once you are satisfied with your choice of stream, you final step is to visit the Registrars Office to make the change in your program.

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