A Student Guide to the Program
The Middlebury Enterprise and Business Program offers a set of interdisciplinary courses taught by successful executives who have real-world experience and a desire to convey their knowledge to students. We call these executives Professors of the Practice; they are drawn from the broad Middlebury College network of alumni, parents, and friends of the College.
Enterprise and business courses can be thought of as analogous to lab courses in the natural sciences. They provide students with an opportunity to apply liberal arts skills to real-world problems that students are likely to encounter in their careers after Middlebury.
All business courses are interdisciplinary; they provide students with general college credit, rather than credit within a specific department or major.
Suggested Program Tracks
With the Enterprise and Business Program, we offer students a variety of tracks to choose from for the focus of their studies:
- Finance Track
- Consulting Track
- Technology Track
- Leadership Track
- Public Sector Track
- Nonprofit Track
Careers and Internships
Much of the work we do is focused on career preparation for leadership in for-profit, nonprofit, government, and for-benefit enterprises. We also work closely with the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) to foster engaging and supportive experiences for our students. CCI maintains valuable resources for students interested in business, finance, and consulting. Here you’ll find the latest on what’s happening on campus as well as in the field.
Frequently Asked Questions
Businesses and enterprises of all types are looking for bright individuals who have broad interests, critical thinking skills, good communication skills, and a breadth of knowledge. In other words, they are looking for students with liberal arts training and skills. But they also want people who can demonstrate that they are able to translate those liberal arts skills into solving the type of problems that their enterprises face. The Professor of the Practice business courses can help to demonstrate to employers that a student has relevant real-world knowledge and training used in those businesses.
Business has many dimensions, so if you want to go into business, just about any major is acceptable. A liberal arts education, after all, is designed to provide broadly transferable skills that can be applied to myriad career paths. Businesses want students with broad interests. The key to getting a job in business is not your major, but the full scope of your educational experience. This could include work experience during college, hobbies, internships, volunteer work and other forms of community engagement, research experience, and the elective courses you take that show you understand how business and enterprise operate. That’s what the Professor of the Practice business courses do, so taking them gives you freedom to major in whatever you want. The combination of classes you take and experiences that you pursue, not just your major, matter when it comes to getting a job.
Many students think that if they want to go into business, they should major in economics. That is not a good assumption. Economics is a fantastic major, but it is not designed to be a gateway to a business or finance career. Businesses know this. While someone interested in business will definitely benefit from taking some economics courses, a major in economics is not a necessary prerequisite. What businesses are looking for are students who have shown an interest in business and a basic knowledge of what businesses do, and how they function. That’s what the business courses are meant to provide.
Every activity has, to a considerable degree, entrepreneurial, managerial, and financial components. A brief reading of the news shows how the healthcare debate circles around costs, efficient outcomes, and insurance. Developing a program to improve mass transit revolves around fares, taxes, and costs, and making it work involves management. NGOs deal with finance problems every day; for example an unintended consequence of recent money-laundering rules was that it prevented NGOs from delivering aid to refugees, forcing them to find workarounds for standard banking activities. Such examples exist in all activities.
Business courses are interdisciplinary courses that apply liberal arts thinking and skills to the world of business; economic courses are an opportunity to explore the discipline of economics. The skills economics courses are designed to teach are the skills used by economists in their research, such as econometrics and economic theorizing. Economics courses are designed to teach students how the economy functions in a general way; they are not designed to teach specifically how business operates and how the real-world economy is organized. Business courses are designed to teach specific business institutions and to introduce students to the skills used in those institutions.
Our recommendation is for you to listen to Bobby McFarrin’s “Don’t worry, be happy.” Worry is often self-defeating. Be concerned, but not worried. Being concerned means starting some broad thinking about what career you might like early on in your college career. Try and picture where you would like to be in 10 years. Ideally students should develop a general plan about their postcollege activities in their first year. To develop such a plan, we encourage all students to stop in at the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) to discuss career options and possible internships in their first year at Middlebury, and to continue working with CCI throughout their four years here. CCI is staffed with professionals whose job it is to reduce your worrying and to assist you in your career and internship search. CCI professionals can also connect you to Middlebury’s wonderful network of alumni and friends who are a great source of information about careers. CCI will help you develop a résumé, an elevator pitch, and some networking and interviewing skills. Those, combined with a general career plan, should put you in a good position to find the job you want when you graduate.
Q If I am sure I want to go into business or be an executive, should I take as many business courses as I can?
No. Generally, we advise students to take no more than four Professor of the Practice business courses while at Middlebury. Business courses are designed to complement liberal arts offerings, not replace them. Students who know that they want to go into business would be well advised to take a wide range of liberal arts courses rather than an additional course related to business. If you are an English major who has little to no idea about what businesses do or how an enterprise is managed, we strongly encourage you to take a business course. If you are running your own startup already, don’t waste your credits on taking courses that cover what you have already learned on your own. Instead, take a religion, Black studies, or an English literature course that will widen your horizons. Courses that provide an opportunity to hone writing and oral communication abilities may also be useful—and learning another language can open up important horizons for students interested in business.
We would recommend the following courses:
- Accounting and Budgeting
- Finance, Investments
- Capital Markets
Q What courses do you recommend for students who are definitely going into business management as a career?
We would recommend the following courses:
- Accounting and Budgeting