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Would everyone with a business degree please stand up?

As the second-most popular program in Canada offered to college and university students, it comes as no surprise that we can all likely name a few friends that call themselves business graduates. Business students can specialize in any sector, from accounting to marketing to global management, but what if you had a passion to work for one industry in particular?

If you were that child who spent your days playing with Hot Wheels and model cars, a program in automotive business is for you. If they like cars and have a bit of a fascination with the industry, it's a bit of a no-brainer for a lot of those students because you're learning transferrable skills that you could apply to any industry, but with a real focus and that engages students, says Jennifer Sheremeto, marketing specialist at Georgian College's Automotive Business School of Canada.

Two of the most important skills that Sheremeto believes students should have are the ability to be both flexible and adaptable. The industry changes a lot, so someone who is focused on relationship-building and working with customers is important, she says. Multitasking is very big and a lot of the soft skills that employers come to us and say they really need is that collaboration and team building. 

At Georgian College, students have the option of working towards either a diploma or degree in automotive business, in addition to a paid co-op opportunity. It's a competitive process, so what happens is we provide the students with the tools they need to get a co-op, says June Martin, cooperative education consultant of employer development at the Automotive Business School. So my job is to bring in those employers.

Students receive exposure to the industry, from an entry-level position to management, depending on their experience. Entry-level jobs can include working as a car lot manager to marketing at a dealership, says Martin. At the corporate level, you'll see positions like public relations assistant, fleet assistant, sales assistant, product planning, marketing, so it's kind of all over the map.

An education in automotive business doesn't only benefit the students, but the employers as well. If the employer is happy, the students are happy; why wouldn't they hire them? says Sheremeto. It has opened a lot of doors for our grads in the higher level and corporate world. She describes the student-employer relation as a win-win: the industry supports the program and they ultimately win because they're reaping the benefits of the grads who are passionate, knowledgeable, and really interested.

 For Martin, she believes the college's co-op program sets them apart from others. We've had students come in with university degrees that are brilliant and they know how to think and how to research, but they don't have any real world experience, she says. Co-op at any level, at whatever college or university, is a huge plus.

And whether it is striving towards a diploma or degree in business, Martin says having the automotive focus brings students together. Because they come in with this hook called automotive, it really bonds them together and makes them more successful.

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