On Campus vs. On-the-Job: Where is the Best Place to Learn about Business?

On campus vs On the jobIt can be difficult when you know what you want to do but you only have a few options for getting there. You don’t want to mess up.

Your career is one of those things to which multiple paths may lead. Do you strive to get a job right away, and learn everything you need to know on the job? Or do you earn a degree and then find a position, knowing you’re prepared for anything thrown your way?

The truth is that it depends on your career goals—there’s no magic solution and no “right” or “wrong” answer. Sometimes you have to take a winding road to get to where you want to go, and that’s OK.

You might have a lot of questions as you figure out what’s right for you. But don’t worry, we found the answers you’re looking for. We got the inside scoop from business professionals on how they made their dreams a reality. Take a look.

Get your education first … or learn on-the-job?

Earning a degree right out of high school is a path many people take. Some might take a few years off then head back. Either way, their goal is to earn a degree before they embark on a career.

In some careers it’s essential to get your education before starting. A doctor, for example, needs countless hours of training and multiple degrees before they’re let loose to handle things on their own. Same story with attorneys and accountants.

But when it comes to careers in business, the decision to pursue education before experience is not always necessary. It turns out that many of pros we spoke to did both, and the mix of education and experience paid off in different ways.

Ray Carballada, president and CEO of Shooters Inc., is one of them. “You need to leverage your education with your experience at the start,” he says. “It’s more than money—it’s what you’re building based on that experience and your goals.”

Some of these business pros said that along with a degree they earned skills in college that they wouldn’t have gained elsewhere.

Michael Di Prospero’s business skills were self-taught, but he says the general skills he gained while obtaining a degree were invaluable. 

“If I had not gone to university I would have been able to start the businesses sooner, which would have been a big pro,” says Di Prospero, director of Easy Clean Toronto. “That said, the skills I learned there do help, even if they weren't directly related to business courses.”

Andy LaPointe of Traverse Bay Farms knew that he had to focus on his education first to get those much-needed skills. “I picked college because I knew I needed the solid foundation in critical thinking and technical training to succeed in my personal goals.”

Now we’ve established why you need that education. Maybe you’re finally ready to take that next step. But consider this: The pros say you need more than a degree to succeed in business. More than one of our business gurus mentioned that while their college education was valuable, experience was necessary, too.

“I accredit all of my business success to learning and events that took place outside of the college experience,” says Nishank Khanna, CEO of Emprivo. “Nothing beats real-world experience. I tried and failed at numerous startups before creating one that was wildly profitable.”

Like these pros, your path likely won’t be exactly like anyone else’s. But though they’ve arrived there differently, each has a successful business career. What’s stopping you?

So, which is it?

You want that business gig, but first you have to figure out how to get there. As you’ve probably noticed by now, this isn’t exactly an either/or choice. And, in fact, maybe it shouldn’t be—many business pros before you have traveled both paths—education and experience.

You CAN do both and get the benefits from each. Call it the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to gain those critical skills you’ll only learn in college and get that real-world, school-of-hard-knocks business savvy you need, too.

Rasmussen College’s Flex Choice Options means you can choose your own pace, make progress at your convience and save time and money while still earning that important degree—you’ll be able to learn about business and experience it, too. Carve your own path to that business career and who knows? You might take that road all the way to the top.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer for Rasmussen College. She researches and writes student-focused articles that focus on nursing, health sciences, business and justice studies. She enjoys writing engaging content to help future, current, and former students on their path to a rewarding education.

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