Who is in?

I got this email from Harper last week:

“I’m scrolling through Instagram and reading all of the emotional posts from my fellow Knight community regarding missing senior year and, of much greater impact, graduation. I feel heartbreak. This is moment that they and their families will miss. I know that UCF has given me every fantastic opportunity in my life. I do not hesitate to say this. Not walking across the stage would be devastating.

So, after careful thought, I would like to pitch a project: Lead the Charge to Charge on. With the assistance primarily of social media and secondarily of email, I would like to ask professionals to give a quick few seconds to record themselves sharing a message with our graduating Knights. **Please note that this ideally would be for every Knight, not just for those within the College of Business*
Those who share a few words may not be Knight alum, but people in our community who support UCF and what we do here. We do things differently and we thrive on that. “Lead the Charge to Charge On” would be an adapted commencement speech that could be saved to their phones, forever.”

Who is in? Send us your video as an attachment to this post and we will edit it into something we can share with our graduates

Failure Competition 2020 is Here!

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the latest installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

  • Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others. It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.
  • While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.
  • Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Monday April 6 th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It

A panel of College staff will choose no more than three finalists for me to consider. I will select three finalists by April 10th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 pm on Sunday April 19th.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting April 20 with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday April 24th.

The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck

THE Challenge Facing the Next UCF President

As the search committee and Board of Trustees begin to engage with our three candidates for UCF President, it is important that they understand the primary challenges facing our institution.

IF UCF is to regain its momentum, become the university of the 21st century and rally people to our cause, we must acknowledge that the primary challenge facing higher education today is not increasing access, but improving the value of the college experience. 

Serious readers of the news see a growing number of articles questioning whether a college degree “is worth it.”  This is largely a statement about value, not price, especially at schools like UCF which have made great strides to remain affordable and become inclusive and accessible.

The sticker price of a four year in-state undergraduate education at UCF is about the same as a modestly equipped Ford Taurus ($25,472). The direct cost to most students is much lower because they have earned Bright Futures funding, attained half of their degree at a lower cost DirectConnect partner, received Pell grants, or some combination of these.  Just half of UCF students graduate with any debt.  For those who do, the average is around $20,000.  Add in the diversity of our student body and it is clear we are making significant headway in conquering our accessibility and inclusiveness challenges.

But, the value of the UCF experience, like that from many other U.S. institutions, is eroding. We continue to substitute cheap labor for tenure-track faculty and graduate students at scale without having enough concern about whether we are preparing people and society for the future.

There is a sense that the U.S. is losing our status as the world leader for cutting edge research and graduate education.  While at the undergraduate level, as the percentage of active labor market participants with a college degree rises, the relative wages of those graduates fall.  This is simple supply and demand.  There is also growing evidence that many graduates end up in jobs that do not require a college degree.  The New York Federal Reserve estimates that among recent college graduates (those age 22 to 27), as many as 40% are employed in jobs that do not require a college degree.

At the same time, many comment that the skills, mindsets and perspectives we are providing our students are out-of-step with what society needs.  It is little wonder that people are questioning the value of an American college education.  Tackling this problem is the challenge universities of the 21st Century must solve if higher education is to remain relevant. As young institution unconstrained by the legacies that limit more established universities, UCF is  uniquely positioned to tackle this challenge in innovative ways.  It must be at the heart of UCF’s vision for the future.


Didn’t See That Coming

Back in December, I interviewed a number of economists and asked them whether or not they thought a 2020 recession was likely.  You can hear their responses by clicking here.   If you don’t have the 20 minutes or so necessary to do that, the short answer is that none of them thought a recession was going to happen in 2020.

Then came the Coronavirus.  The most recent news about the disease has caused the stock market to tumble, travel to be restricted, and talk of the Summer Olympics being postponed.    What seemed like another year of economic expansion, doesn’t seem so certain now. (This is a great example of what your macroeconomics professor calls “an exogenous shock.”)

Frankly, it is a little early to tell whether or not the virus will have a lasting impact on the economy.  As Peter Eavis notes in a recent New York Times article, some companies are expressing optimism that we will find a way to curb the virus, but if companies see a threat that goes beyond the first quarter of the year, our 11-year run of economic growth could come to an end.

If you’re a typical UCF student, you probably aren’t too worried about your investment account.  You may not even have one.  You’re spending time investing in yourself going to school and that’s a long play, not a short one.  But, if you are a graduating senior, you might want to accelerate that job search — if companies take a “wait and see” attitude, it might take a little longer to find a job this year than you expected.

Thanks to your fellow students, you have an opportunity to jump start your job search today at the Financial Management Association at UCF’s (FMA) Meet The Firms event. It’s in the Live Oak Event Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is open to the entire College of Business and is a great opportunity for you to meet face-to-face with potential firms looking for talent.

Maybe this Coronavirus thing will be all be over before May and the job market will be robust. Maybe not.  Either way, an early start to your job search seems like a really good idea right now.

Also, do the economy and your job search a favor and wash your hands.


Want an Internship with Tesla?

Next Wednesday at 3pm in The Exchange, Jennifer Johnson is going to interview Carson Hunt.  Carson is going to talk about how to land your dream internship.  He landed his dream internship with Tesla.  How that internship opened doors is some kind the story.  He also has big dreams for his company: Upparel, Inc.  I’m guessing this talk will fill up fast.  To register, click here and sign up with your coba pass.






Hall of Fame 2020

If you have ever wondered who those people are on the wall in BA-2, they are our Hall of Fame Inductees.  The College has more than 60,000 alumni.  Less than 100 are in the Hall of Fame.  It is a very exclusive club.  This Thursday, at Rosen Shingle Creek we will induct three more members into the Hall of Fame in front of about 800 guests.  It’s a big deal.

Usually, it is a pretty long journey to get to our Hall of Fame.  The typical inductee has more than 20 years of business experience.  This year two of our inductees are a little different– they beat down the door to get in.  All three of this year’s inductees share a sense of humility and commitment to giving back and are extremely generous with their time.  They are great models for our students and remind all of us who work in the college, how transformative a UCF College of Business education can be.

Woody Walker ’92 ’94MBA is the executive vice president of strategic partnerships at CCG, a U.S.-based data, artificial intelligence and analytics services and solutions firm. Walker has 25 years of management and consulting experience in the information technology industry. Walker’s true passion lies in education with a focus on women in STEM. She is involved with ATHENA International, the Project Management Institute, Leadership Orlando and the UCF Alumni and College of Business Boards. She earned both her BSBA in management and MBA at UCF.

Justin Wetherill ’07 is CEO and co-founder of uBreakiFix, a leading device repair company with more than 550 stores throughout North America, 5.5 million customers and nearly 7 million repairs completed to date. Earning $254 million in revenue in 2018 and joining the Asurion family in 2019, Wetherill started uBreakiFix in 2009, shortly after earning his accounting degree and dropping his iPhone.

Brian Wright ’06 is general manager of the San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team. Joining the Spurs in 2016 as the team’s assistant general manager, Wright was promoted to the GM role earlier this year. As a graduate student in the DeVos Sport Business Management Program, Wright began his NBA career as a summer intern with the Orlando Magic.



Who You Know

You may have noticed that we have some new occupants in the office across the hall from Collaboration 2 (Rm 234).  This is our Employer Relations Team.  The folks occupying those offices are part of the Office of Professional Development.  We moved them to this new location to give them more visibility.  The Employer Relations Team talks with our corporate partners and area coordinators about their employment and internship opportunities and can help connect you to people who can jump-start your career. You’ve heard the old saying, its not just what you know, but who you know that counts.  Getting to know these people counts.

If you have been admitted into a major, have a polished resume and are ready to seek internships or career opportunities, make an appointment to meet with one of the members of the team.  They will help you assess your readiness to compete in the market for jobs or internships, get a sense of your skill sets and interests and tell you about current job openings and opportunities our corporate partners have in the works.  By taking the time to build a relationship with one of the team members, they are better able to target and recommend opportunities to you as they arise.  Landing the job or internship is up to you, but it never hurts to have well connected people in your corner.

You can learn more about the team and make an appointment by clicking here.

You are Cute and Cuddly

It’s true. As a student, you are cute and cuddly. Everybody wants to help a deserving student looking to make a name for him or herself in the world. Think about it: People donate money for scholarships so that worthy students can realize their dreams. They volunteer to come speak to classes as a way of “giving back” to their community. And, who doesn’t find it flattering to be asked by some humble (not pushy) youngster to give them advice on how they can grow up to be just like you someday?

You need to take advantage of your cute and cuddliness now because it will not last forever. You stop being cute and cuddly the day you graduate. On that day, you become the competition. The number of people willing to provide you with their time and insight will drop dramatically. So, now is the time to start to develop your networking skills and execute a plan to meet the kinds of people who can provide you with good advice about how to jump-start your career. The earlier you develop this plan and the earlier you begin to execute it, the bigger the gains you will realize from it.

Fortunately, the College provides you with a variety of ways to connect with experienced people who can give you advice on what it is like to work in their profession, what choices they made that helped them along the way, how they learned from their mistakes and what you need to do now to be successful later. So, in developing and implementing your plan, some things to do include:

Get to know some of your professors outside the classroom by attending office hours and asking their advice. I know they seem like strange creatures, but they are high-achievers who know a great deal about what they research. They love talking about what they do, have seen lots of students over the years and have strong opinions about what makes people successful. Many also have professional connections in the community and can help you meet people you want to meet.

Join one of the student organizations in the College. Do this as a freshman and remain active all four years. Almost every major has a student organization. These organizations tend to focus on career development and frequently have guest speakers from the community who talk about the profession and what it takes to succeed. Go to these meetings, ask the guest speaker questions, and mingle before and after the event. Leaving a good impression with a guest speaker might even bring an internship or a job.

The Exchange was created to make meeting people who can help you jump-start your career.  The alums, community leaders and business professionals who speak in the Exchange can tell you all about what they do, how their company competes or their organization collaborates, what they are looking for in new recruits and what you need to do now so you will be of interest to them when you are ready to graduate.

In your junior year apply to be a part of the College’s mentoring program. Just last Thursday, we had 75 volunteer mentors come to campus to meet with students eager to find someone who could give them the right kind of advice.  If you missed this event, don’t worry we hold it every semester.

Finally, when doing these things, ask the people you meet to identify other people you may want to get to know to help you navigate your career. This will likely open even more doors. If this sounds like a fair bit of work, it is—but the payoff will be large. So get busy. Remember your parents want you to graduate soon, so being cute and cuddly won’t last very long.

Understanding that Strange Creature You Call “Professor”

I once had a business school colleague who wore Birkenstock sandals with black socks and shorts everyday to class. I had another who chain smoked, rarely made eye contact, and carefully scripted his lectures because he didn’t feel completely comfortable in front of groups. Not one but two of my former colleagues have undergone sex change operations and another pulled a tiny black lace Barbie outfit out of his pocket during a lecture — oh wait, that was me (as I hastily explained the perils of getting daughters ready for school).

If faculty seem like strange creatures, maybe it is because we have such unusual expectations of them. Here’s the deal: You have six years to prove that you have many new interesting observations backed up by data that students want to hear, editors want to publish and colleagues want to read so that they can learn from you. There are only two outcomes after six years: unemployment or promotion with a job for life. If you make the first cut, we are going to ask you to be even more interesting and secure a national reputation. If you achieve this distinction, we promote you again. By the way, the average project takes more than two years to complete. Eighty-five to 90 percent of papers professors submit for publication are rejected. Students expect you to be on the top of your game every class. If you need help, call. Otherwise get busy. Time is ticking.

That is your professor’s world and understanding it can help you get the most out of your time at UCF. Faculty are professional learners. It is what motivates them and it is what they value most in others. This distinction is not meant to excuse poor classroom performance, but if you want to impress a professor, demonstrate that you are eager to learn — a process where you are an active partner in discovery rather than expecting them to “teach.” It is a subtle distinction but an important one. Faculty hate it when they believe they are “spoon-feeding” students — pouring information into passive, empty heads. Questions like “Is this going to be on the test?” drive them insane. Ask it and they will dismiss you as a lazy student not worthy of their time.

Time is a faculty member’s most valuable asset. A professor has just six years to make a name in a world that is hard to impress. That includes the time they are in class with you. Students are a professor’s legacy. The more successful students a professor has the better their reputation. But class time is short, and by necessity, focuses on the things that matter most to student success. Not everything a faculty member says is golden, but the answer to the question, “Did I miss anything important when I skipped class?” — will always be yes.

So now you’re thinking maybe the best strategy is to hide in the back and try not to say the wrong thing. A popular but bad idea. You came here to learn, and the best education happens in those moments you get to sit on a log with a professor and talk one-on-one. So go to office hours, especially when it is not right before a test or assignment is due. Getting to know a professor is a bit like being on a blind date — prepare, ask good questions and listen. The best professors I had gave me new perspectives that changed the way I viewed the world. They devoted their lives to the study of a subject they believed was important and wanted to share their insights with anyone who would strike up a conversation. In sharing their ideas, they hoped to change the world. It should not surprise us that unique perspectives come from unique individuals. You don’t have to wear Birkenstocks, chain-smoke or keep Barbie clothes in your pocket. Just engage, appreciate the insight and put it to good use.