Business Minor Opens Doors for Interdisciplinary Students

In 2021, UW Foster School of Business launched its Business Minor & Badge Program, which welcomed more than 300 non-business major students from across all three UW Campuses. The degree, generously supported in part by BECU, offers students the opportunity to build a diverse set of career and life skills including financial literacy, accounting, management, entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, and information systems. After the inaugural year of the program, Foster student, Anh Thao Vu, interviewed current business minor students to ask them about why they chose to minor in business, what their career aspirations are, and how they think the business minor could help them achieve their career goals.

Our first interviewee was Mikayla Prementine, a fourth year physiology major.

Anh Vu (AV): Why did you decide to major in physiology?

Mikayla Prementine (MP): Originally, my life plan was to go to veterinary school, and the physiology program [from community college] covered most of the prerequisites for that. However, I really see my life going in a different direction and I’m hoping to get into the Foster school soon.

(AV): How did you hear about the business minor?

I believe I took a marketing class (MKTG445) with Professor Leta Beard as an elective. I needed an elective and it was a last-minute thing, but I ended up finding it really interesting– I loved it. She told us all about the minor, so I started signing up for more classes and that’s kind of how I ended up here.

(AV): Why did you decide to minor in business?

(MP): There’s a joke amongst my friends– they always say, “Mikayla, you’re a snake oil salesman with ethics, you could sell anything if you believed in it.” And so, like it’s kind of just something I did – I always have a side hustle. I guess I just have a head for business. I finally started listening to those aptitude tests and my friends’ constant joking, so I tried it out – it’s fun!

(AV): What’s the correlation between the physiology major and the business minor for you?

(MP): I had wanted to open a veterinary clinic! I loved the idea of being a full-service shop because I feel like vets are great doctors. I also think that while they’re great doctors, the career is kind of lacking on the business end. However, now in veterinary school, there’s a big push to get people into business. Getting a partner is something that’s very desirable for them, to have someone that’s running the business end and they run the medicine end–you’re both doing your goal.

(AV): What was the course load like for you? Were you able to balance your major and the business minor?

(MP): I feel like my minor was really helpful in making my major more doable. I’m at the stage where I do a lot of upper courses for STEM and I won’t lie– I do struggle through the STEM courses. I enjoy them, but they’re very hard for me, and I feel like my business classes came more naturally. I enjoyed the open communication and I enjoyed how sociable everyone was.

(AV): How were you able to integrate in the business classes? What was the transition like for you?

(MP): I feel like it was immediate – I was mostly an outlier in my STEM classes because they were so large and there was no one there that knew who I was, whereas the professors here at Foster were very inclusive, they were very talkative, they made themselves very available. The enthusiasm all of them had really rubbed off and it made engaging in the class a lot easier.

(AV): What has been your favorite class so far?

(MP): I think my favorite class has been the marketing class I first took– Marketing 445. I really liked that it studies how people think. Sometimes it’s not always intuitive and it doesn’t always make sense, you gotta use a little bit of the data the sociologists get and a little bit of your intuition. I also loved that it was very customer service minded– the goal is not necessarily the product, but the product is made to fit the consumer, and I really liked that aspect about it. I feel like it gave me a little bit of insight into how people successfully do business.

My favorite professor was probably Professor Graves. She really made a lot of time to talk offline about if we had more in depth questions, and she just had such enthusiasm and passion for the subject. I loved that she brought her husband in who’s a lawyer to do a section for us on wills. She didn’t have to do that, but it was so cool of her to do so. Professor Graves really inspired my enthusiasm.

(AV): How do you think the business minor has helped you in your personal life?

(MP): It’s been really helpful, especially the marketing section, and just understanding, too, from the investment standpoint. I personally have a retirement account and I know they put it in stocks, but I didn’t understand before I took that finance class with professor Graves, like what makes a good stock and what doesn’t. It made me feel a little bit more secure about my investments, like I can now pick accounts a little bit on my own based on my knowledge from that class.

(AV): Has the business minor opened up any opportunities for you professionally?

(MP): The business minor has gotten me to study abroad in Ireland. I feel like the reason why I was largely accepted into the program was because I started taking more classes in the business minor. I feel like studying abroad in a business school is an excellent thing to put on a resume, as well.

(AV): Would you recommend this minor to your peers?

(MP): Absolutely! It’s great. It’s very useful. Even if you don’t pursue a business career path after graduation, getting to understand how businesses work is always a useful skill and knowledge to have, and it gives you a little bit more control in your own life.

(AV): Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue the business minor?

(MP): Yes! I would say don’t hesitate, just do it. Take a class that’s within the minor and make your decision then, because you need electives anyways, so why not? I think there’s a misconception that people think you have to be a certain type of person to open a business or go into a business career path. I don’t think that’s necessarily true– I think all kinds of people open businesses and all kinds of people can learn from business, so what do you have to lose?


Our second interviewee was Ayla Zhou, a rising senior at UW double majoring in Mathematics & Education, and Communities & Organization, is also pursuing a minor in Business & Data Science. We took some time to learn about her experience in the minor program.

Anh Vu (AV): Can you please introduce yourself starting with your name, year, and major.

(AZ): My name is Ayla Zhou and I’m a rising senior. My majors are Mathematics and Education, Communities and Organization– I’m also minoring in business and data science.

(AV): Why did you decide to major in mathematics?

(AZ): When I was in high school I was doing pretty good at math, I was doing pre-calculus when I was in grade 9, so I thought, “why not?” I wanted to pursue that path.

(AV): How did you hear about the business minor and why did you decide to take up the business minor?

(AZ): Once I entered college, I realized that majoring in mathematics was not what I wanted. So I started to explore other areas and other fields. My mom suggested exploring business as another career path, so I did more research and decided that the business minor was the best option. Besides that, I have many friends who are in the business major at Foster and they told me how much they loved it. That was another reason for me to pursue this minor.

(AV): How long have you been in the business minor for?

(AZ): I’ve been in the business minor for more than half a year. I started doing research at the start of last September. I hesitated a little between doing the business minor and doing the entrepreneurship minor, but ultimately decided on the business minor because it offered a variety of general classes and subjects.

(AV): What’s the correlation between your majors and the business minor? How do you see them working together in the future?

(AZ): I’m currently doing data science and I see a lot of overlaps between the two paths. I’m also planning to get a master’s degree in Data Science or Business Analytics.

(AV): How do you think the business minor will help you achieve your career goals?

(AZ): To be a business analyst, you need a lot of coding skills, compute certain codes, and analyze data–the business minor teaches a lot of those skills that will help me in my future career path.

(AV): What is the course load like for you in the business minor? Are you able to balance the minor with your majors?

(AZ): Luckily, I finished all my major courses for math at the beginning of this year, so I had time to focus on the business minor. I haven’t encountered any conflicts between the two. I’m also going to be starting an internship as a program associate later this year, but I don’t think I’ll have any conflicts with that, either.

(AV): How were you able to integrate in the business classes? What was the transition like for you compared to the other core classes you’ve taken?

(AZ): I’ve been able to integrate pretty well in the business minor classes. All of the classes I’ve taken so far were hybrid. It’s a really nice format for me because I tend to be on the shyer side when it comes to in person interactions, so the hybrid model encouraged me to branch out and network with new peers. For example, I reached out to a classmate through the chat box after they asked an interesting question in class. We became good friends to this day!

(AV): Of the classes you’ve taken so far, what’s your favorite class?

(AZ): Finance 205! It’s about personal finance, and at the end of the quarter, you get to build a profile that basically records how you’re going to buy a house, your budget for one year post graduation, and even your will! It was really interesting, I never really thought about writing a will at the age of 20. This class was really helpful and I’m grateful for the things I learned in the class. It gave me a sense of readiness for the real world.

Also, my professor, Jennifer Graves, was so nice and helpful. She loved to interact with her students, and you could tell she really cared about everybody and how their day was. All of the professors I encountered were so warm and welcoming.

(AV): How do you think the business minor has helped you in your personal life?

(AZ): It helped me feel much more ready to actually live in the world without the help of my parents. It helped me organize and balance my finances and budget.

(AV): Would you recommend the business minor to your peers or other students?

(AZ): Hell yeah! This minor provided me with so much knowledge and fun experiences, I think others will have a great time here as well.


Learn more about Foster School of Business’ new business minor here.


The creation of the Foster School’s Business for Life Badge & Minor Program was made possible by the generous support of BECU.