By Sam Rosoff
BRIDGEPORT – Anyone looking for a leg up in business should look no further than Housatonic Community College’s business programs, especially the banking program.
HCC covers a wide variety of programs and career paths, from Human Resource Management to Finance. There are also many arrangements in place for transferring to 4-year programs at local universities to continue towards a bachelor’s degree.
Joan Gallagher of Shelton, business department chair at HCC, emphasized the value of taking the Banking program here in Bridgeport. “In a sense, we are a banking city,” Gallagher said.
“There are so many banks in the area, including the People’s Bank headquarters and other semi-regional headquarters that there are a lot of opportunities in town,” said Assistant Professor of Business Ed Becker of Milford. A number of bank employees attend his classes because it was what they needed to get to the next step in their careers, according to Becker.
According to Careers-in-Business.com, if a student decides to continue on and earn a bachelor’s degree in banking, starting salaries in commercial banking will range from $40,000 to $60,000. If they pursue investment banking, they could start as an assistant analyst, and after bonuses, salaries range from $100,000 to $130,000.
A relatively new program being offered is Global Business, which focuses on international trade. “Global Business is becoming increasingly important with companies,” said Becker. “You almost can’t avoid working with people overseas if you’re importing or exporting products.”
One of the more popular programs at HCC is Accounting, which offers a number of transfer options to 4-year institutions, as well as potential scholarships. Gallagher said that the accounting program also has one of the highest numbers of graduates in HCC. She said that with an associate’s degree, an accounting student can work for any small or mid-size company in various positions, but most students go on to a bachelor’s. Jobs in public accounting currently hold a $59,000 median entry level salary, also according to Careers-in-Business.com.
Another popular program is the Business Office Technology program, which prepares students for office management positions, covering both technological skills and interpersonal skills.
“The BOT program was very hands-on, which was wonderful,” said Ada Carbone of Milford, who graduated almost 20 years ago, then started working at HCC as a clerk, and is now the administrative assistant in the Dean of Administration’s office. “The work I do as administrative assistant is just what Prof. Gallagher taught us.” Carbone said that it’s a great program and it’s vital because businesses will always have clerical and administrative positions.
Carbone recommended that prospective students looking into HCC’s business programs should first sit down with an academic advisor to ensure they’re pursuing the right program. “A lot of students start taking courses before really knowing what they want to do,” Carbone said. “Our advisors have experience in different career fields and can guide them to find what a student is best at.”
Lindsay Jacobsen of Trumbull, who graduated from HCC in 2012 and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing at Sacred Heart University, is a marketing assistant at William B. Meyer, Inc., a moving and storage logistics company. “I received one-on-one attention at HCC, which was beneficial for furthering my career,” said Jacobsen. “HCC was a great way to get my feet wet. There’s minimal investment, and the professors are so enthusiastic and passionate that they were able to help point me towards the career I could succeed most in.”
Becker said an advantage HCC’s business programs offer is that business professors here have professional experience. “We have career academicians who have spent years in business,” said Becker, “some of whom still do consulting work.”
Becker said the time to get started in the business program is now. “Get started sooner rather than later,” said Becker. “It’s always easy to tell yourself, ‘Next fall, I’m going to start. Next year, I’ll be making more money.’ It never gets easier. The sooner you finish the program, the sooner you can take advantage of the degree’s benefits.”
Sam Rosoff is a journalism intern at Housatonic Community College.