Improving our Job Numbers

Students come to business school to get the skills that will land them a great job and future.  It’s just that simple.  If we want to assess our value-added, the simplest, most powerful measure of the success of our efforts is the number of students who realize their professional aspirations and land a job.

Accrediting agencies and ranking organizations typically look at the percent of students who have landed a job six months after graduation.  Our benchmark is the percent of graduates who leave us with a job in hand.  It’s a more aggressive goal, but the biggest cost of going to school is not tuition, it is the opportunity cost associated with forgone income.  If you want to improve the return on investment to education, one way to do it is to reduce the time people search for a job after graduation.  When we first made this a priority, we moved the percent of students leaving us with a job in hand by 11 percent.  This year I’ve challenged our Office of Professional Development staff to improve that number by another 5 percent.

I got the mid-year job numbers last week. They made me grumpy. Fewer students filled out our survey this fall than last fall, but the total number of students reporting they had landed a new job before graduation fell slightly. The number who said they were going to stay in a job they already had fell much more sharply.  Maybe we raised people’s expectations about what they could achieve, making them less willing to stay in a job they got while in school. Maybe it’s a random dip in the data. But the bottom line is that more students about to graduate were still looking for a new opportunity when they filled out the survey. If we just had the same number of Fall 2016 graduates find new jobs as happened with Fall 2015 graduates, we would have showed the progress I was looking for in percentage terms.

We need to do better. We are going to roll out a new invitation-only internship fair this spring (more to come on this in a later post) and are adding a new course to help students better prepare for the future that will debut in Fall 2017. This should help. But I think one of the challenges of being at UCF is that we are so large and have made student engagement such a priority in the college that we regularly engage in conversations with students that dupe us into thinking we’re winning.

I had just this kind of encounter leaving the building Friday.  A student came up to me to thank me for our “Get to the One” initiative and the professional development courses that helped him land the job of his dreams. He was elated and given the numbers I saw Monday, it was an especially affirming conversation, but I walked away thinking: “One down, 599 to go.”

Like many things, it is the discussions you don’t have that burn you. We need a more systematic approach that tracks our progress in real time, not just once a semester, and motivates more students to have a sense of urgency about realizing their futures. And we need to achieve this without a significant increase in people power. The challenge at UCF is to do things at a scale others think impossible. This requires new thinking and I’m going to get people together next week to take a cold hard look at how we can show continuous improvement in the number of graduates who are leaving with a job in hand.

A Gift to Support Our Culture

The construction in BA-1 can’t get done fast enough in my view.  The project has quieted the common spaces on the first two floors.  The usual hustle and bustle is gone– no students practicing presentations in suits. No groups working on team projects.  No “Good Morning Dean Jarley” as I walk down the halls. The few people who do pass through the building are just scurrying to find a more welcoming place to get on with their lives.  It’s a stark reminder of just how critical the right spaces are to creating the culture you need to support your objectives. It feels like we have gone backwards in time.

The good news is that this week, we are announcing a five hundred thousand dollar gift from The Ravago Group to help bring the right spaces to BA-1. Ravago is the global leader in the distribution, resale and compounding of commodity, engineering and specialty plastic and rubber polymers.The company has offices in Maitland and one visit there will convince you that they understand the important role physical space plays in supporting culture: Its a beautiful, functional, stylish office that tells you that forward-thinking winners work here.  Ravago’s generous gift will help us build the inspiring, high-tech, creative spaces necessary to create an educational experience that instills the mindsets, habits and behaviors students need to succeed in today’s marketplace.  It’s a gift to a culture that strives to get students our of their comfort zones, take risks, collaborate and invent their futures.

Thanks for believing in what we are trying to achieve Ravago. We look forward to hosting your team in our new space in early summer.

Hall of Fame 2017

February is Hall of Fame month in the College of Business.  Preparation for the event that takes place on Thursday February 23 at Rosen Shingle Creek dominates our staff meetings.  Why spend so much time and effort on just one evening?

Because it’s the single biggest opportunity we have each year to show our alumni and community what we are all about, why we deserve their support and how much progress we have made together. Looking back over my five years as Dean, I cannot help but be proud of the many partnerships we have built with organizations and friends throughout Central Florida.  These partnerships have helped us promote a dialogue with the community about the practice of business, engage our students in their professional development, and ignite conversations about the future of business education.  We have come a long way toward achieving our vision of becoming the cross-roads of town and gown– an engaging place where people from different backgrounds come together to collaborate, take risks, analyze real time data and invent the future.

For those of you who have been coming to this event over the last five years, you know that no two Hall of Fame evenings are alike.  We try to bring the UCF College of Business experience to our audience during the evening and that means getting out of our comfort zones and taking some risks with the program.  If you want to attend an event that will make you proud of your hometown business school, give you a chance to get to know our amazing alumni inductees, faculty and students and give you something to talk about the next day at work, come join us by clicking here.  (We’ll also get you on your way home by 9:00 pm.)

See you February 23rd.

The Jobs of Our Integrated Business Graduates

There is a lot of interest among faculty, students and our Dean’s Advisory Board members in the post-graduation experiences of our Integrated Business (IB) majors.  It’s our newest major and is designed to produce graduates who can integrate across business functions. We’ve only graduated 26 students so far: 5 last summer and 21 more in the fall.  It’s not a lot of data, but Chris Leo used LinkedIn to track the current employment of those 26 graduates and found information for 19 of them. That means at least 73 percent of our IB grads are currently employed although in at least one instance we know it’s a job they had while in the program.  Conversely, we know that at least 3 students got their current job from an IB internship while at UCF.

Collectively, the 19 students have a wide array of jobs.  Four IB students work in marketing-related roles: Social Media Analyst at The Sports Quotient; Marketing Coordinator at John Wiley and Sons; Market Research Interviewer at Integrated Insight Inc. and Marketing and Research Associate at Coldwell Banker Commercial.  

Three IB grads have recruiting jobs at Alligent Healthcare, BlueWave Resource Partners, and TekPartners, respectively, while another is an Industry Development Professional at Pontoon Solutions– a staffing firm. Three other IB grads hold analyst positions: Revenue Performance Management Analyst at Global Convergence, Business Analyst at Masseys Services and Senior Purchasing Analyst at Publix Super Markets.  

Two grads are in project coordinator roles, (Rock Em Apparel and SON Technology) while two others are employed in customer service jobs (Enterprise and OnlinePartyDesign) and another pair in operations positions (Amazon and Apple).

The list is rounded out with a Solution Developer at Deloitte Consulting and a Staff Accountant at RLF Architecture and Planning.

Obviously 26 graduates isn’t a lot to go on,  but I think the diversity of jobs held by our IB graduates speaks to the robustness of the major in providing general skill sets that can be employed in a wide variety of functions and settings.  In a world where jobs and job titles come and go at an alarming pace, the ability to adapt, integrate and add value across functions is a great way to achieve employment security.  It’s one of the ideas driving the development of the IB major.

Keep it up IB faculty, I think you’re all on to something here.

The End of BE 2000

Richard tells me that the BE 2000 shrine that has resided on the first floor of BA-1 will be removed this weekend.  For those of you who have forgotten, it looks like this:

be-2000

When you brand an initiative with a date, you eventually get a dated brand. In fairness to Dean Huseman, I’m sure he didn’t expect the curriculum he pioneered or the monument he commissioned to last this long.  If there’s an alum who is interested in preserving it in their yard, den, etc., give us a call.

As coincidence would have it, we are removing the last physical vestiges of this by-gone era at a time when we are also imagining the future of the College. We have challenged ourselves to think about what business education should like in the coming decades and how we can use this exercise to develop and act on a plan that will make us first-movers in the marketplace. It is not exactly clear yet what that future will look like, but competency-based curricula, career readiness for students and five-year programs culminating in master’s degrees are receiving a great deal of attention.  Ultimately, we want to do for business education what Elon Musk is doing for cars.

Hey, wouldn’t a brand new Tesla be the perfect thing to replace that BE 2000 monument under the steps of BA-1? Maybe when people do something really great in the college, we could let them toot the horn.

We had a DeLorean for the Hall of Fame a few years back…. Tiffany, can you get me one of those?

 

Progress in Admission to Majors

Near the end of last semester, a reader asked if I would post information about how many students got into each major based on their performance in the Fall semester.  I commented at that time, that the data wasn’t ready yet, but that I would as soon as I had final numbers.

The table below shows the number of students who got into the major of their first choice at the end of Fall 2016.  This means they completed the primary core that semester and when they did, it qualified them to move from their designated “pre-major” to that same “major”.  What the data below doesn’t show (we still need to compile this) is the number who decided to enroll in a different major after their performance last fall.  We estimate that this about an additional 50 students.

first-choice-admit

We admitted more than twice as many students into a major for this Spring 2017 (698) than we did last year at this time  (312) when the system was brand new.  In fact, we are nearing what we would expect to be a steady-state number for a Fall or Spring semester in-take into the majors, which is about 800.  Note also that the relative order of admissions into the majors has remained the same.  Finance is the most common followed by Integrated Business (IB) and then Accounting. Economics and Real Estate tend to have much more modest numbers.

It’s a Little Messy in BA-1.

While you were gone, we were busy tearing up BA-1.  Well, not us exactly, the contractors.  The goal is to give all of us more engaging common spaces, places we will want to sit down with each other, have conversations, build lasting connections and invent our futures.  If you don’t think space matters,  consider The Exchange’s role in changing the culture of the College.  Today, its hard to imagine what we did without that space for so long.  We are looking for the same type of culture impact with our refurbishing of the common spaces on the first two floors of BA-1.

Eventually (some time in March or early April), the upgrade will look like this. A massive improvement, right?

pardon-our-dust-remodel_coming_soon2

But right now, with classes starting it looks like this:

attrium-2-remodel

 

Yep, its a little Spartan. Don’t panic. We are still open for business.  All of the classrooms are just like you left them and are clearly marked. Most of the work that needs to be done will be done at night, but the main internal stairways are closed.  You will have to use the stairwells in the corners of the building and we have those clearly marked as well. Furniture is also pretty sparse, not a lot of places to sit in the common areas right now.

To help you navigate the building and let you know what is going on, we have also created a website with up-to-date information on the project.  You can access it by clicking here: http://business.ucf.edu/business-building-remodel-spring-2017/

Feel free to check in often and before you know it, we’ll have new common areas that will make you want to spend more time in BA-1.

 

A Thought for 2017

Like most people, I got a few surprises for Christmas. My wife, knowing my love for biographies of interesting people, got me Tim Farriss’ new book Tools of Titans.  It condenses the tips he’s learned from many of the high performers he has interviewed over the years.  

The book led me to listen to one of his podcasts. That podcast contained, among many things, an observation from a CEO whose name I don’t recall who said this: “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting..”

Wow, academics everywhere are probably forming rebuttals to that observation before they  finish reading that quote, but it’s a damn provocative insight… Take more risks and your mind will adjust to the notion you are a risk-taker.  Act like the “Tesla of Business Schools” and your mind will eventually come around to the idea.  Try to reason it out first and your head will come up with a million reasons why it’s a bad idea because it risks your short-term survival.  Short-term threats is what evolution taught us our brains should focus on to ensure survival. But most of us don’t live in the wild anymore and long term thinking tends to lead to prosperity, not a focus on short-term risks and benefits in the modern world.

So if you have a sense of a change you’d like to make in 2017, start acting that way now.  Your brain can catch up later.

While You’re Returning That Gift, Consider Passing it Forward

So, you are standing in line to return that one gift you didn’t need or like.   Sure, you could pocket the cash or trade it for something you’d like better. But if you are already wondering where you are going to put all that new stuff or believe less can actually be more especially this time of year, consider passing the proceeds of that returned gift forward and into our Student Opportunity Fund.

Launching a successful career or business can come down to having the few dollars necessary to take advantage of the right opportunity at the right time. Maybe it’s the cost of an airplane ticket to launch a career in international business through a study abroad experience. Maybe it’s the entry fee necessary to prove yourself by competing in a national student sales competition or the cost of sitting for a project management certification exam. Or maybe it’s the seed money to launch a hummus company that lands you on SharkTank and puts your product in every Publix store. 

A small investment can go a long way toward a student realizing their dream. This is the big idea behind our Student Opportunity Fund– we want to micro-finance our students’ futures.

 

The college of business has almost 60,000 alums. If the average alum gave just $20, maybe what you’re getting for that gift return today, we would have almost $1.2 million to finance the low cost opportunities that can have the biggest impact on the lives of our nearly 9,000 students. It’s a great example of how UCF can leverage the power of scale to create huge impact.

So if you really don’t need yet another tie or scarf, consider becoming part of that UCF equation.  Click here, donate and enter Student Opportunity Fund in the comments section.

The UCF Knights thank you. 

College Football Needs Relegation

UCF played Arkansas State in the Cure Bowl Saturday evening.  The College is a sponsor of the game: we provide them with office space down at the Executive Development Center. I have a personal stake in their cause: my mother died of breast cancer at fifty-nine.  That said, outside of Orlando and Jonesboro, few people cared about the game.  It was buried on the CBS Sports Network with a 5:30 p.m. start.

The Cure Bowl is not alone.  Almost all of the bowl games played before New Year’s Eve are meaningless games that fill some network time and provide people who don’t want to talk to their relatives during the holidays an excuse to escape for a few hours.

Lonny has a solution: Relegation.  Both Lonny and I are Liverpool FC fans.  We were talking about the state of the English Premier League the other day when Lonny blurted out, “College Football needs relegation!”  Lonny does this a lot. He blurts out things. In the last week of the semester, when even a small fraction of his 4,000 students come to beg him to forgive their poor performance in his class, the long line can get to him. He blurts out more then.

This blurt, though, might be genius.  And like any good supervisor, when a subordinate has a great idea, you go with it and claim it as your own. So, here is how it would work: The bottom team in each of the Power Five conferences would be paired against the winner of one of the non-power five conferences with a slot in the higher ranked conference at stake. If the Power Five conference school loses the game, they get relegated. These would be preset slotted games: worst ACC team plays winner of AAC; worst Big Ten team plays winner of MAC; worst Big 12 team plays winner of Conference USA; worst SEC team plays winner of Sunbelt; Pac 12 worst team plays Mountain West champ.  So, instead of UCF playing Arkansas State, imagine Navy  playing Virginia for a spot in the ACC next year. Or, how about Western Michigan playing Rutgers for a spot in the Big Ten. Five bowls now have meaning.  Heck, they all have divisions, so lets do it that way and have 10 bowl games with relegation at stake instead of just five. Ratings would skyrocket. Are you listening ESPN?

Will it happen? Probably not. Conferences are about more than just football. Some even have academic consortia that produce powerful societal outcomes. Maybe most importantly the president of the losing Power Five university likely gets the ax in the process. None of them are voting for that, and I, too, think making football even more important on campus isn’t a good thing. But, it sure would be fun to watch….