What College Students Should Know About Business Software
Our goal at Campus Arrival is to prepare college students to become the future leaders of business. A crucial part of that is navigating the landscape of business software. And that can never start too early.
We encourage students to gain as much experience as they can with business software early in school, where opportunities abound. While their eventual careers might dictate different software packages, or the particulars of the software might change in just a few years, they’ll be able to carry the concepts and skills they develop for a lifetime. Here we provide an overview of business software that college students will find useful in their academic career and beyond.
When it comes to acquiring the following software, some of it like the Google Suite are available for free online. For the rest, students should check with their IT department which may provide the software free of charge under a site license or be able to procure it at a discount. Finally, check with the software vendors directly: many will offer student or academic discounts. And be sure to check our recommendations for supported hardware and peripherals to make the most of this software on campus.
The quintessential business software that applies across all domains is the office suite: word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the gold standard, but Google also offers decent alternatives in Docs, Sheets and Slides with a price tag that can’t be beat. Sheets still lacks the powerful, advanced features of Excel, but the basic functionality can still take you far. Both allow you to turn a spreadsheet into a handy form, accounting record, personal database and more. Down the line, this experience with spreadsheets can serve you well when creating a basic customer-relationship management (CRM) tool, for example, before you step into more specialized enterprise options for CRM.
As more work goes remote and online, the role of business software becomes more important in mediating real-time, face-to-face communication. What we’re talking about is web conference software. College students will have plenty of experience with apps like Apple’s FaceTime to call home or participate in online courses. However, when it comes to participating in conference calls, you’ll want to be comfortable with a broader range of videoconferencing tools. These included apps like Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting. Not to mention, Google Hangouts which offer more advanced features like screen sharing and follow-up tools.
Many college students will have experience with content management systems (CMS) as end users. Their interactions are usually based around receiving course documents, whether it’s through the front-end of Blackboard or WordPress. Since businesses rely heavily on CMS as well, both for their customer-facing properties and internal systems, students should take up any opportunity to work on a CMS through their back-ends, whether as a content specialist or administrator. Taking a course, supporting a club or non-profit or taking on an internship are all great options for seeing this side of the CMS.
Web Analytics & Business Intelligence
Another area for college students to dip their toes into, especially when working on a non-profit website, is web analytics. Web analytics feed business intelligence, offering metrics to inform decision-making when it comes to the customer acquisition funnel. It also helps with A/B testing on new designs and key performance indicators to assess the health of the business. Out of the box, web analytics provide basics stats such as user demographics and pages visited, to powerful functionality like event tracking and customized reports. Google Analytics is widely used, but more specialized platforms like Kissmetrics and Mixpanel can provide deeper insights.
Social Media Management
So much of marketing is being savvy with social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, an arena that college students will have no shortage of exposure to. But in business, social media doesn’t just involve clever, off-the-cuff tweets or breathtaking photos. It requires careful and sustained campaigns to promote a company’s brand, generate leads and build social traffic to their properties. And those require software for social media management. Businesses will look favorably on students who have experience with social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and TweetDeck. As a student, if you’re on social media everyday anyway, why not dip your toes with these tools, many of which offer free tiers.
Social collaboration tools are essential for remote work spread across the globe but also facilitate peers sharing the same office. They make life easier for office workers when it comes to task management, file sharing and channels for chatting on any topic. The same goes for students, who can take advantage of collaborative platforms like Slack and file-sharing services like Dropbox and OneShare to collaborate on group projects or prepare for an exam. There are plenty of other options when it comes to social collaboration tools, so do your research.
So that sums it up when it comes to business software that college students should be aware of for advancing their academic careers as well as building a foundation for their future careers. Also be on the look-out for any business software specific to your major. For example, computer science students, get yourself up to speed with distributed version control and source code management platforms like GitHub. And informatics students, picking up visualization packages like Tableau will make you much more desirable to future employers.
Did we miss any important business software for the budding college student? Let us know!
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