Why We Do Welcome to the Majors

When someone becomes part of something that is different from what they have experienced, it is a good idea to mark this change with an event that signifies their movement into unfamiliar terrain and helps them better understand what will be expected of them going forward.

This is why we do Welcome to the Majors. The College of Business is different than what students have experienced to this point in their education. How different depends a bit on where they are coming from, but one way it is different for every new student is the importance we place on “doing” here. Up until this point, you have probably thought that school was about acquiring knowledge and seeking to “be” something– an accountant, finance major, etc., Success required you to sit and learn– meaning passively consuming lectures and correctly repeating what you were taught on exams.

The basic message of Welcome to the Majors is to let you know that you have entered a different experience where that strategy won’t be enough to succeed. The College of Business is a professional school. We believe the ultimate purpose of business education isn’t knowledge, but action. Don’t misunderstand. Knowledge is important. But if you don’t learn to do things with that knowledge, it’s not very useful. In short, knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. In our College, you must do. This starts at Welcome to the Majors where we encourage you to think about what you want to do in your career rather than what you want to be, it continues in our core courses where we ask you to work in teams to solve real world problems and in our professional development courses where you need to invest time in getting out of your comfort zone and do things that will help you develop your professional network. We want you to leave us with a reputation for doing that gets you a great job offer before graduation.

All of this will require a change in your mindset. Welcome to the Majors is just the start of that process. It will introduce you to the many opportunities you have in the college to embrace doing, connect with amazing people and get to where you want to go. But you need to come ready to dive in. As I said in last week’s post: Fortune here favors the bold.

Execution is Hard….

I admit that I am fond of one liners, sentences that succinctly sum up truths. I’m told Jennifer Johnson had an especially memorable one in her professional development class on Friday: “Execution is hard, especially for procrastinators.”

This is so very true. One of the key lessons of the professional development courses is to get you to understand that college gives you a distorted view of the relative value of cognitive ability versus doing. It’s good to “be smart,” but it’s better to do. The CEO of Pixar once noted that a mediocre idea well executed is better than a great idea, poorly executed.

Procrastinators tend to think that they already know how to do stuff. They put it off until the last minute in the mistaken belief that their genius ensures that getting it done will be easy to do. Time passes quickly. Panic sets in. Short cuts follow. Results fall short. Reputations suffer. Blame is usually put on someone or something else. The cycle repeats. Careers are lost.

Heed her warning. My experience suggests that after you estimate the time necessary to do something right, multiply by 2.5, then start earlier.

If You are New to the College….

Today is the first day of the spring semester. If you are new to the college, you are not alone.  We welcome more than 1000 new students to the College.  You’ve probably heard that we are big: more than 8200 undergraduate students, about a 1000 graduate students and 225 faculty and staff. It can be hard to stand out in such a large crowd.  If you stand in the back of the room and wait to be discovered or provided the help you need, you guarantee disappointment and risk total failure. Fortune favors the bold here.  Don’t miss out on accessing the many resources we have to help you succeed.

But our scale does not define your experience in the College, the shared beliefs of our faculty and staff do.  We believe that no real learning occurs inside your comfort zone; that the most defining moments happen when you get to have a conversation with someone who has something interesting to say; and that a great education expands your horizons, helps you make good choices about how to spend your one precious life, and gives you the skills and confidence to know that you can compete with anyone anywhere.  We have created a culture and set of experiences that will demand that you engage with us in the pursuit of these objectives. These things are not negotiable.  If you are not willing to sign up  for this adventure, we are not the place for you.  Frankly your life here will be miserable.  If you are willing to go down this path, the journey will transform you.

For our undergraduate students, the journey starts almost immediately.  “Welcome to the Majors” is Friday January 17th.   It is designed to introduce our newbies to the culture of the college and help them start to form a strategy for how to stand out from the crowd and “get to the one” (if you don’t know what that means you will).  Welcome to the Majors is complemented by “Street Smarts,” a workshop run by our student Ambassadors that gives new students tips on how to best succeed in the College, including how to succeed in our core courses.  The Ambassadors are part of the College’s leadership team and play an important role in shaping our culture.  They will be doing several “Street Smart” workshops each day for the first two weeks of the semester in The Exchange.

The Exchange is a place where we invite in community leaders who have interesting things to say to our students. Thanks to our friends at FAIRWINDS Credit Union,  we have a guest in the exchange almost every day.  Most days we have more than one Exchange. Many of our guests in The Exchange employ UCF interns and graduates. They are interested in identifying good talent while sharing their experiences and advice with young people like you.  At no other time in your life will you have so many potential employers coming to visit you.  Go early and often, but remember to reserve your seat before you go, there are only 120.

By March you will likely have had your first tests in your primary core classes and will need to start taking a hard look at where your interests intersect your skills and talents.  Many students come in to the College thinking they want to do something, only to change their mind mid-semester.  The Office of Professional Development can help you understand where you might best fit in.  Internships can also help. It’s why we do an Internship Invitational and Career Fest each semester.  Look to get involved.

The goal of all this activity in your first seven weeks is to get you engaged outside of your comfort zone, to get you in the right major, plot an efficient course to graduation and have you develop an action plan for landing the job you want before you leave here.  Our corporate partners, alumni, the Professional Development team, the Primary Core Faculty, the Student Ambassadors, and Jennifer Johnson who runs The Exchange are all here to help you make good choices as you start your time with us. And if you need some mid-course corrections, don’t worry we will have a follow-up to  “Street Smarts” ready  for you right after midterms.

Welcome to the UCF College of Business. Get your armor ready Knights. Charge On!

Admission into the Majors

Every semester students who complete the primary core are accepted into a major.  Sometimes it is their major of first choice, sometimes not. As can be seen in the table below, the results for this fall remain very similar to the prior two semesters.  Integrated Business continues to admit the most majors and has grown to become almost a third of the total. This is followed by Finance. Together, these two majors account for more than half of the majors in the college.

Majors 2019-2018

Congrats to all of the students who have made it into a major. Well done. We will see all of you back here in a few weeks.


What to do During Your Winter Break

This is a re-post of a blog from a few years ago.  I still think it is the best advice I can give students on how to use their winter break to improve their job prospects.  Special thanks to my friend George for his helpful post.  The best advice tends to be timeless…

As part of my effort to give students ideas about how they could use their winter break to develop their professional skills and experience set, I reached out via Twitter to George Anders. George is a contributing writer at Forbes magazine and author of “The Rare Find.” He also is a former trustee and treasurer of the Odyssey School in San Mateo, Calif., and a former trustee and vice president of Z Space, a San Francisco theater company. He graciously accepted my request and provided the blog post below. His willingness to provide a pro bono post to someone he has never met is a wonderful example of the accessibility and kindness of many successful people. The content of his post is great advice for students. I’d ask that you thank George by tweeting him a “Thanks for the post!” via Twitter at @GeorgeAnders and use the hashtag #UCFBusiness.

Here’s George’s advice:

When someone says the word “business,” does your mind focus strictly on Fortune 500 companies that are famous for their giant factories, stores or office towers? Or do your horizons stretch a bit farther? Consider the day-to-day challenges of the clinics, schools, theaters and community centers in your neighborhood.

Yes, nonprofits are businesses, too. They don’t have the big budgets or big bureaucracy of corporate titans. But if you’re looking for a brief – and worthwhile – project to undertake during your winter break, knocking on the door of a local nonprofit could provide some surprisingly valuable business training.

Here’s what I learned in the past five years from serving on the boards of two small California nonprofits. These organizations’ leaders (executive directors) tend to be smart, dedicated, down-to-earth people. They like getting things done. They’re working miracles every month with lean staffs and even leaner resources. Yet there’s always something important that keeps getting deferred, because available time and money can’t stretch any farther. Perhaps it’s a grant application that needs to be filled out. Or a website that ought to be updated. Or maybe some budgeting and financial modeling that sits on someone’s desk, incomplete.

The lists can go on and on. In board meetings, executive directors will talk hopefully and ruefully about all the extra initiatives that could happen if they had one more smart, college-educated person who could pitch in.

You are that person. In the course of a couple weeks on winter break, you can help write that grant, organize that list of key donors, get that Twitter account kicking into gear – or whatever else needs to be done. All you need to do is make it easier for the executive director to give you a desk and a handshake than to shoo you away.

So, start by visiting guidestar.org for a list of nonprofits in your area. Pull up the interesting group’s latest annual report, known as an IRS Form 990, to get the names and contact information of the organization’s top leaders. (These forms are on Guidestar.) If you like finance, spend a little time analyzing those numbers and thinking of ways you could add value. If you’re more of a marketing type, visit the organization’s website. Check out its presence (or non-presence) on Twitter, Facebook and the like. Think about ways the organization could start a Google keywords ad campaign, if it isn’t doing so already. Then email or phone the executive director, explaining to him or her that you like the organization. Propose some specific ways that you could help during your break, free of charge. If you’re in the neighborhood, pay a visit.

There’s no way of knowing whether such prospecting will pay off 20 percent of the time, or 70 percent, or something in between. But your odds of success are far better than zero. Most executive directors of these organizations would be absolutely thrilled to have a bright, college-educated person who could come in – pro bono – and take command of a two-week project.

Get something done in the nonprofit world, and you’ve got a great new element to add to your resume. You’ve also made valuable friends in the community, who may point you toward other career opportunities. And you’ve tested your classroom knowledge in a real-world setting. Those big companies on the covers of magazines may take years to hire you for your dream job. But a small nonprofit may need only 10 minutes to decide that it’s worth taking a chance on you. And – because these organizations are hardly giants – you can go start-to-finish on your project in a very reasonable amount of time. Let the executive director know that you’re working within the time frame of winter break, and you can probably accomplish something exciting and still have some personal time to enjoy as well.

A Thank You to our Graduating Ambassadors

Saturday is graduation. It is both a happy and sad time for us.  Graduation is, of course, the goal when students enter UCF, and we are happy when our students cross that hurdle. Sad because we will miss the students who have helped to make the college an engaging place over the past few years. Chief among that group are our student ambassadors — the students who help me manage the culture of engagement we have developed here in the college. This semester we have one former and four current ambassadors graduating.  Jennifer Johnson, who has led our ambassador program for the past few years, always provides me with some insights about our graduating ambassadors and their plans for the future.  Not surprisingly, these students have used their college experience to “Get to the One.”

Azhar Ghartey graduates from Integrated Business.  Azhar served both the A-Team and Ambassadors program, which is not an easy task and shows true dedication and support to his peers. At UCF, he was a member of the Muslim Students’ Association and the Integrated Business Association. While an Ambassador, he served on the Communications Committee. He also worked as a business development intern at iMatic Technologies Limited.  After graduation, he will move home to Tanzania where he will work for his family’s business.

Isabelle Klein graduates with a degree in Marketing. More than any other Ambassador, Isabelle has learned how to get out of her comfort zone. While at UCF, she served the American Marketing Association as both the VP of Growth and Innovation and Event Coordinator.  Last summer she did the Sales Manager Training Program at Mattress Firm. Isabelle followed her passion for fitness and worked as a marketing assistant for the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center. She has a full-time job offer in Sarasota as a business analyst and is still deciding on what’s next. She has her foot in the door with an exciting opportunity and will know soon if that is an option. For the Ambassador program, Isabelle served on both the Communications and Onboarding Committees, and this semester she presented a proposed program initiative to me, Dean Johnson and our Chief Learning Officer Sean Robb.

Jeselyn Labiste graduates from the Dixon School of Accounting. She is an MVP collaborator with the Ambassador program. Jeselyn did an exceptional job chairing the Onboarding/Street Smarts Committee in the fall semester. She also served on the Ambassador Student Engagement Committee and volunteered with His Hands 2 Go and Knights Helping Knights Pantry.  After working as an audit intern with RSM US LLP earlier this year, she received a full-time audit staff position.

Juan Ramirez graduates as a double major in Finance and Economics. Juan has one of the most impressive resumes I have seen from a student Ambassador.  He worked as a Global Credit Finance Summer Analyst at State Street Global, a Private Equity Spring Analyst with Teak Partners, and a Summer Analyst and Campus Ambassador for Raymond James. He also has completed internships with Vistana and AXA Investments.  Juan is interested in working internationally and is still weighing his career options.  As an Ambassador, he served on the Student Engagement Committee.

Jordan Less, a former Ambassador, picks up a graduate degree in business this semester. Jordan was our lead Ambassador a little over a year ago and really blossomed in his time at UCF.  He may have been our most humble Ambassador ever— always willing to help, no job beneath him, a guy who leads by example. He’s got a job in public accounting lined up.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jennifer Johnson for all her work with the Ambassadors over the past few years. Jennifer is passing the baton to Jessica Dourney as she takes on more responsibilities relating to the professional development of our students. Jennifer is a true servant leader and has always relished in the success of her Ambassadors. I know Jessica will do the same.

As for my departing Ambassadors, your job for us doesn’t stop. You are and shall always be UCF College of Business Ambassadors. Go do great things, tell others about us and come back to tell the students who follow you how they too can differentiate themselves while they are here and learn to live their dreams.

Charge On!


Is Unemployment For College Grads Still Really a Thing?

The unemployment rate (3.5 percent) is at a 50 year low in the U.S. It is even lower in Orlando (2.7 percent ). Most economists would agree that this is about as close to zero as it can get because it takes a little time for people looking for work and companies looking to hire them to find each other.

If you are graduating next week, this is really good news. Finding a job, if you don’t have one or want a different one, shouldn’t take too long. A paycheck is coming. But, you shouldn’t confuse getting a job with getting the job you really want. These are two different things. Fifty percent of our grads stay here in Central Florida, a relatively low paying area. Across the nation, underemployment among recent college grads is around 40 percent and is defined as the percent of 22-27 year old college grads who work in jobs that don’t have a college degree ( click here.) This figure varies by major, involves some guess work, and doesn’t always mean people settled for low paying jobs, but the figure underscores the reality that getting the career you want isn’t as easy as you think.

Ultimately, there is only one data point in all these statistics that matters to you– your employment status– unemployed, underemployed or underpaid. This unemployment figure is most certainly a thing and to make sure you are in the situation you want to be in, you are still going to need to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. This blog gives you plenty of ideas of how to do this and how the college can help. If you are graduating in the spring and haven’t secured your future, you might want to get busy. It’s not going to be nearly as busy as you think.

Give Us a Year, You Will Get a Career

The holiday season is upon us.  You are graduating this month with a liberal arts or social science degree, but you still don’t have the kind of job offer you were hoping to get or maybe you are still not sure what to do with your degree.

If this describes you, consider complimenting your undergraduate credentials with a business degree.  The combination can be very powerful.  If you want to stay in Central Florida and work for a small or medium sized firm, you should consider our  MSM in Integrated Business.  This one year program emphasizes development of applied business skills through a team-based, active learning approach and creates well-rounded business professionals who can combine knowledge from several areas to get stuff done.  Want to learn more, click below.

Why You Should Visit Your Career Coach

As unnerving as having my face on screens all over the college can be, it helps me get to know a lot of students. No matter where I am in town, there is a good chance I will run into a student who recognizes me and strikes up a conversation.  Because I tend to be a creature of habit who shows up at the same places a lot, I get to know some of those students pretty well.

One of my frequent stops, is my local CVS. It is about 40 feet from where I live and because I’m a less than prepared grocery shopper, I end up running over there about five times a week to pick up something. This is how I got to know Miguel. Miguel is a graduate of our economics program who has been looking for a job in data analytics.  It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for him. He didn’t have the job he wanted right after graduation, but he has been persistent.

Last week, when I went in to pick up something, Miguel had a big smile on his face. He had landed a job in data analytics with a firm in Jacksonville. From our conversation, it sounded like it involved forensic accounting/finance. He went on to note: “I really owe this success to my career coach, Denise. She really helped me do the kinds of things I needed to land a job like this. I start in January.”

These are the days it’s good to be dean. It’s great to hear from hardworking students, that they are accomplishing their dreams. It’s great to hear that our career coaches are making a difference and that our students are realizing the benefits of the resources we have here in the College.

It’s only one student story and it’s easy to forget at times like this that we have 9,000 more of them, but I’m sharing this story because I want there to be many more Miguels. He used the resources available to him, built a relationship with a career coach, took their advice and it paid off.

I’m going to miss our chats, Miguel. Charge On…