How Do I Gain Business Management Experience?

Geri Terzo

Gaining initial business management experience often begins with a solid education. From there, you can gain experience through any corporate apprenticeship programs that might be offered. Companies often have layers of managers, and a willingness to assist in this type of organizational structure might help you get hired for your first role in business management. The leadership and decision-making skills that are demonstrated in a junior or middle manager spot could lead to a more senior managerial role.

Leadership skills demonstrated in junior management jobs can lead to higher management positions in a company.
Leadership skills demonstrated in junior management jobs can lead to higher management positions in a company.

Before gaining any business management experience, you will need to earn a college education. As an undergraduate, select a major such as business, business administration or business management to serve as a foundation for a career. Earning a master of business administration (MBA) degree in graduate school could enhance your chances of gaining managerial experience early in your career.

An internship working under a manager can be a great way to get business management experience.
An internship working under a manager can be a great way to get business management experience.

To gain business management experience, you need to be hired to that first managerial role unless you own your own company. You might need to accept a title that is akin to a senior professional, such as a senior researcher, before the formal title of "manager" becomes attached to your position. The responsibilities as a senior professional, however, are likely to include managerial tasks, such as overseeing the job performance of other employees, interviewing job candidates for open positions and overseeing a departmental budget. To gain business management experience, be willing to accept a senior role, middle manager position or co-manager job, and use the skills you learn as leverage for a more senior managerial role.

Achieving formal certifification, in an area such as HR or financial management, can help prepare a worker for management positions.
Achieving formal certifification, in an area such as HR or financial management, can help prepare a worker for management positions.

Throughout a career in business management, you are likely to be involved in all of the major aspects of that entity. You will oversee personnel, financial decisions and other functions that a support a company's overall goals. Achieving some formal certification in any of these areas — from personnel or human resource management to financial management — might open the door to some business management experience.

Apprentice opportunities may be available to provide you with some business management experience. Employers who offer apprenticeships could declare that applicants who attain or exceed some minimum academic performance will be more highly considered. These programs could unfold over a one-year period or longer. You might work with a company on a formal rotation basis and take various assignments throughout the program. The leadership skills that you gain and use throughout a business management apprenticeship should be counted toward your business management experience.

Earning an MBA in graduate school may increase a student's chances of gaining managerial experience early in her or his career.
Earning an MBA in graduate school may increase a student's chances of gaining managerial experience early in her or his career.

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Discussion Comments

nony

@sneakers41 - My niece got a management apprenticeship with a major soft drink company, right out of college.

It wasn’t easy. There were thousands of applicants for the program, and she was chosen along with a handful of others.

The program is basically a “fast track” management apprenticeship program, as they like to call it, where she is exposed to all parts of the operation. She travels with the distributors, meets with store managers, sales managers – basically everyone who touches every part of the operation where she lives.

It’s not an easy job, either; typically she puts in 60 hours a week, but the pay is good.

After the year long program she will be moved into full time management.

That will be the real deal. I told her that it would be even more grueling than “boot camp,” so to speak, and she understands that, but she loves it.

JessicaLynn

I think it would be a smart idea for someone who thought they wanted to go into business management to work a few years after college. Then, if you decide it's really what you want to do, get an MBA.

I really don't understand how people go to professional school like that without ever stepping foot in an actual office. I actually have a friend who went for an MBA right after her bachelors, and she ended up hating the business world. If she had just worked for a few years after college she could have saved herself a lot of money!

sneakers41

I began my business management experience after I graduated from college. I entered an executive training program offered by a regional department store and after the training was over, I was assigned a store along with a specific department that I would be supervising as an assistant department manager.

It was challenging, but I learned a lot. After a few months I was assigned different departments within the store and in less than a year I was a promoted to department manager. I had to make the schedules for all of my employees as well as offer performance appraisals and handle all conflicts that arose in my department.

I think that that is the hardest part of being a manager. You have to adapt to all kinds of personalities and some people don’t like to accept direction or any constructive criticism. It was not easy, but I am glad that I had the experience because it made me better able to handle challenges in other jobs that held after that.

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