Career paths for Business students: getting the edge

Business-related degrees such as a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Commerce can provide access to a broad spectrum of graduate careers. More often than not, students enrolled in these degrees will be required to specialise in one or more areas of business through a major which will impact upon what types of graduate positions they are likely to gain entry into. Take a look below at some popular careers for business degree graduates.

Accounting, Tax and Business Advisory

Accounting & Tax

Accounting is often referred to as the language of business. Understanding how to account for business transactions and activities is an invaluable building block to a future career in business. Graduates with either an accounting-specific degree or a business/commerce degree majoring in accounting are able to apply for various graduate roles in the audit (sometimes called ‘assurance’), tax and even advisory divisions of accounting firms.

Alternatively, graduates with an accounting background can apply directly to a company or government department which runs a graduate program in their internal accounts or finance teams. After a bit of time working, many accounting graduates go on to pursue professional accreditations such as the Chartered Accountants (CA) or Certified Practicing Accountant programs (CPA). Bridging courses are available at numerous universities for those without a degree or major in accounting that are looking to pursue this career path as well as the CA and CPA programs.


Apart from accounting and tax, many larger professional services firms have advisory divisions which provide specialist advice to organisations. You may find a graduate opening in the following areas:

  • Corporate finance

  • Management and operational consulting

  • Insolvency

  • IT advisory

  • HR consulting

Before you apply for these roles, go online to understand what types of degrees these divisions recruit from and to learn more about the nature of these jobs. As a starting point, be sure to check out these Ernst & Young student programs.

Advertising and Marketing

If you envisage yourself in a more creative side of business, then advertising or marketing may be right for you. These are two distinct areas, with advertising being one component or subset of marketing. Advertising involves the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, whereas marketing encompasses the entire process by which companies create customer interest in goods or services including research, planning, pricing, advertising and distribution.

You will be best positioned to enter these roles with a business or commerce degree majoring in advertising or marketing although graduates from psychology or arts degrees are often welcomed due to their creative skills and ability to understand consumer behaviour.

Graduates interested in becoming a ‘creative’ at an advertising agency should consider Award School after graduation from university (, which is widely recognised as a prerequisite for the most competitive advertising positions.


Finance careers cover a broad spectrum of jobs which entail the management, reporting or investing of money and capital or providing advice on these matters. Examples of organisations which offer graduate positions include:

  • Investment banks

  • Insurance companies

  • Retail and institutional banks

  • Corporate finance divisions of professional services firms (such as accounting firms)

  • Fund managers

There are numerous postgraduate qualifications available to graduates working in finance including the CFA program (run through the CFA Institute) as well as the Masters of Applied Finance program offered at many Australian Universities.

Visit the following two resources for further information on careers in finance:

Human Resources & Recruitment

Fancy the idea of managing people for a job? A career in human resources could be your calling. Some popular graduate opportunities include roles within human resources department of an organisation (internal HR), human resources consulting and recruiting.

Internal HR

Business degree holders with an HR or industrial relations major can enter the internal HR department of an organisation. The day-to-day tasks involve managing staff entering, exiting and currently working within that organisation, such as:

  • Recruiting new employees by reviewing applications, conducting interviews and attending recruitment events

  • Determining salary and other staff incentives

  • Training and development

  • Industrial relations

Graduates are generally sourced directly from these companies although opportunities may exist through recruitment agencies.

HR Consulting

Instead of working within one company’s HR team, HR consultants work for a variety of companies to help them improve their human resources functions. HR consulting is a specialist area of management consulting which is set out in greater detail below.

Keep your eyes out for HR consulting firms such as Hewitt and Hay Group.


Recruiters are hired to find the right person for job openings in a variety of companies. It is a sales based role in the sense that recruiters must sell the job role to a potential candidate and then convince the company that the person they have found is right for the job. They act as the middle man between the job seeker and the company.

Look out for recruiting firms such as Michael Page International or Hays on your campus.

Management Consulting

Many people find it difficult to understand exactly what management consultants do every day. Broadly speaking, management consulting firms are independent private organisations which are hired by senior executives of businesses and government agencies to provide implementable advice with a view to improving the performance of one or more aspects of the organisation.

Positions at the top management consulting firms are some of the most highly desired graduate jobs in business due to the fact that graduates (called Associate Consultants, Associates or Business Analysts) are able to receive direct contact with senior executives, work across a variety of public and private clients and obtain a broad skillset in business through comprehensive training programs.

Many management consultants undertake a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program and have the ability to exit into interesting roles such as private equity, internal strategy within a company and financial services.

To find out more, visit this US resource:



There is of course no need to sign up to work for the man. If you believe you have a business idea and have the necessary resources behind you to get a concept of the ground, you can become an entrepreneur and start your own business.

A good place to start looking for information is through entrepreneur societies such as Young Entrepreneurs Australia, website:

If you have any questions relating to careers in business feel free to shoot Mike an email: