Wittenberg University is adding four new business majors, a change university officials said will allow students to gain more valuable experience and develop better contacts with local businesses.
The university has long offered a business degree, said Tom Kaplan, business department chair at Wittenberg. But the new majors in marketing, management, entrepreneurship and finance will help provide more depth and additional skills that will help prepare students for jobs in their chosen field.
The university is also placing greater emphasis on internships and working with area businesses to develop more opportunities for students to get hands-on experience.
In the past, students could major in business with a concentration in one of those four areas, Kaplan said. That provided a broad range of skills that have been helpful in the past, but he said employers and students are increasingly looking for more depth in those subject areas.
The new majors, along with job experience, will give Wittenberg students an edge when competing against more experienced candidates.
“Our students get jobs,” Kaplan said. “What you really want is the kind of jobs that are really outstanding. It’s not just a GPA exercise that gets those types of jobs.”
The university is making other changes as well, including changing the core curriculum, including placing more emphasis on internships and jobs experience.
“We’ve always put a lot of emphasis on professional development for our students but we’ve really doubled down on that,” Kaplan said.
In the past, students were encouraged to seek at least one internship, but it was not a requirement. This year, business students will be required to complete at least one internship or an equivalent project.
The university also hired a coordinator of engaged learning this fall, who will be responsible for connecting students to local businesses for internships, among other duties.
Faculty members also wanted to ensure despite the added depth, the new courses didn’t crowd out a basic liberal arts focus or the ability for students to combine business with another major.
Going into his senior year, Greg Gernetzke said his experience in the business program has been eye-opening. Gernetzke majored in business with a focus on entrepreneurship, and recently ran a small business on campus selling submarine sandwiches door-to-door. The basic lessons he learned helped him and a few friends turn about $50 in supplies into about $600 in profit, he said.
The program taught him to focus more on solving business problems, as opposed to only looking at making a profit right away, he said. Once he graduates, he said he plans to get a job in corporate finance.
“They teach you to take an idea and turn it into a business,” Gernetzke said.