Be Worthy of Attention

On Friday, we hosted 300 students at our “Welcome to the Major” event. It is part of our effort to increase student engagement by providing a welcoming environment and connecting students to faculty, staff and each other as soon as they enter a major in the college. The event is also an opportunity to tell students about our expectations of them and give them tips on how to succeed in the business school: that they will need to get out of their comfort zones, be proactive, take risks, work with people who are very different from themselves and learn to use data to make decisions. This is what it means to be a UCF College of Business student.

We had some of our most accessible faculty introduce these concepts to attendees. Paul Greg, Chair of Finance, stressed the importance of academic achievement and co-curricular activities for post-graduation success. He noted that every employer he talks to expresses the desire to meet and hire “the very best students” : those with great grades who exhibit leadership skills through other activities while in school.

Professor Carolyn Messiah, from Marketing, told students that they have only two years to build a personal brand while in college and that waiting to be “discovered” is a bad plan that only works in the movies. To succeed, students have to develop their unique assets, market them consistently to the world, and protect the brand by acting consistent with the image they wish to project. Otherwise you are just a commodity. No one wants to go through life as a commodity.

Finally, Dr. Cameron Ford in discussing how to approach faculty pointed out that the most valuable asset he has is his time. He went on to note that he spends many hours providing students who want to start a business with advice and insight, but that with 8000 students in the college he has to be selective. So he gravitates toward those students who bring him interesting problems, issues or projects –things where his advice is likely to have maximum impact. His advice to students interested in building relationships with faculty: Be worthy of attention.

Cameron’s admonition was an apt summary of the entire morning. No matter whose attention you seek: being interesting, driven, fearless, engaging and the solution to a problem gets you noticed.

ChargeOn Knights.

Another Encounter with Subodh

One of my favorite people in the world is Dr. Subodh Das. I first got to know Subodh when I was at the University of Kentucky. We were co-authors on a Sloan Foundation grant that led to the establishment of the Center for a Sustainable Aluminum Industry. We have been friends ever since.

What makes Subodh so endearing is his welcome. Arriving at his place is a celebration. He greets you like a long lost friend. He does not wait for you to enter his place; he rushes out to greet you, looks you right in the eye, extends his hand, slaps you on the back and smiles from ear to ear. He shows you to his office, sits you down, gives you his undivided attention and sends you on your way believing you were the most important person in his world today. Nobody ever, ever leaves a meeting with Dr. Das feeling like you got his “b” game. He doesn’t have one. It is invigorating. You can’t wait to come back to see him.

This Friday, the College will be hosting its second “Welcome to the Major” Event. Getting into the College of Business Administration is an important milestone in our students’ lives. It should be celebrated. It is also an opportunity for us to begin a dialogue with our students about how they can meet our expectations and achieve their aspirations. An engaging place doesn’t wait for you to find it. It grabs you and demands your attention. It tells you that you are important and that conversation is vital. I want our Welcome to the Major Event to be like an encounter with Subodh.

Over 1000 new CBA students have been invited to join us for a morning of activities that will include conversations with our college ambassadors, department chairs, and select faculty. Our student organizations and select employer partners have also been invited to network with our incoming students and talk to them about how to differentiate themselves while at the CBA.

We look forward to seeing all our new students there. Welcome!

new students can register by clicking here

student organizations can register by clicking here

Better Serving Students

The office of Undergraduate Student Services announced a major restructuring this morning (January 13, 2014) and I wanted to share the information with you immediately. These personnel changes are part of the College of Business’ effort to provide more comprehensive set of services to all of our students. The transition period for the reorganization will take place over the next 30 days. 

The Undergraduate Student Services Office will soon become the Office of Professional Development. The new staff members will be professional development coaches with the responsibility to help students put together a professional development plan which includes enhanced career planning, resume development, presentation skills, writing skills and other related services. They will also continue to work with students to effectively understand and navigate the curriculum requirements.

This new service will evolve over the next two years as we strive to better equip and train students to compete and thrive in the new economy.

It’s important to understand that this does not affect registration, degree requirements, or graduation procedures, nor will there be any interruption of service to our students. It will provide new and expanded services to students in the College of Business.

We will provide continuous updates.

No Lectures Ever

So, if I gave you the opportunity to have courses without lectures, where you would be required to meet with a faculty member one-on-one or in small groups four or five times a semester to get the professor’s deepest insights into the material and get your questions answered, would you sign up for that course? You would still have to complete assignments and show you know the material, but no lectures ever. Would you do it?

Leveraging Our Fiesta Bowl Win

Last Thursday, I sent out the following tweet:

It got a warm reception, with twenty retweets, fifteen favorites and several direct responses to me with suggestions for what UCF should do to accomplish this goal.

So how do we do this? How can we use this spotlight to enhance the nation’s perception of UCF as an academic institution? Think about this–in the College of Business I have roughly 225 faculty and staff. We serve about 9,000 students and 50,000 UCF alumni. Now rank order these three groups on their ability to influence how the country at-large views UCF. Feeling empowered? You should. Here are six simple things UCF students, alumni or both can do to help us leverage that Fiesta Bowl victory and bring greater attention to UCF. Consider adopting one as a New Year’s resolution and acting on it before the end of January:

1. Become an active advocate of your favorite UCF faculty member: Great universities are built around great faculty. These are the people whose ideas, perspectives, research, and actions sustain the institution and put students on the path to a better future. If you had, or are having, a great UCF experience chances are that you were touched by a faculty member who changed how you view the world. If you haven’t already done so, get to know them on a personal basis. Understand what they do and why it is important. Then let all of your professional contacts know about this person and what they bring to UCF. An added bonus: When you become an advocate for someone, they are more likely to become an advocate for you. Are you listening students?

2. Attend our Hall of Fame event on February 6th: Prominent business schools have active alumni networks that help graduates further their careers. We have planned a major up-grade of our college Hall of Fame event. The goal is to draw more attention to our successful alumni, invite back past honorees, and give attendees the opportunity to extend their professional networks in valuable ways. A room full of hundreds of successful UCF alums will also help create buzz in the community about our accomplishments. You can get a seat at the table for our Shingle Creek event by clicking here.

3. Amplify our message on social media: . Social media has made it cheap and easy to get our message out to a global audience. By retweeting, reposting, and sending out your own messages about the great things going on at UCF, you can extend our reach many fold, get us trending on social media platforms and help us create the news. Consider our recent #BlackandGoldFriday campaign. It resulted in over 15,000 people opening an e-newsletter about the college and more than 1100 visits to our micro site. We accomplished this with the help of the alumni association and athletics, but think how much bigger our reach would have been if fifty students and alumni had geared up to help us launch the campaign through their social media channels. Interested in helping us out? Our social media wizard, Jonathan Gabriel, is creating a group to do just that. If you want to enlist, email him or tweet him via the college feed @UCFBusiness.

4. Participate in one of our student competitions: . UCF doesn’t just compete in athletics, it competes in many academic venues with elite institutions from around the country. In business, these competitions range from accounting to entrepreneurship, investments and sales. Showing we can and do hang with the big boys and girls on a national stage is one of the best ways we can expand our footprint. For students, this means getting out of your comfort zone, risking failure and committing to compete at the highest level. For alums, it means donating some time to help coach a UCF team as they prepare for the national stage. If you want to help, contact one of our external relations staff and they will get you connected.

5. Help build our presence in key cities: UCF has many alumni in places like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington, Dallas, Houston, and San Francisco to name just a few. We visit these cities regularly and are working to connect a strong core of successful professionals who can come together, learn about what is going on at UCF, and build a network of contacts that enhance their careers. These are not watch parties, but events where we bring faculty, discuss issues of concern to you, and look for ways to promote UCF alums in their communities. Come out and see us when we get to town.

6. Interview with national firms and be the best kick-ass interviewee imaginable. . This takes preparation and swagger. But showing a big company you came prepared for the interview, understand what the company is doing, and how you can help them meet their goals will open many eyes to UCF. They have heard about the football team and how Bortles and company used preparation and swagger to convincingly beat a 17 point favorite. They are intrigued by those upstarts from UCF. Use this to your advantage. Building our presence with big national firms will make it easier for those that follow in your footsteps to get interviews with these same companies and extends our reach. If you aren’t ready to do this yet, get busy now.

My good friend Jack Schibrowki once told me that if you want to be perceived to like a “Big Time” university, the most effective thing to do is to act like one. Our Fiesta Bowl victory has primed a lot of people to expect “big things” from UCF. To leverage our big win, we need to consistently show people we have indeed arrived through our actions and messaging. There is no better time to #ChargeOn people. Let’s make 2014 the year everyone in the country heard about UCF.

#ChargeOn into the New Year

Really? The Knights are in the Fiesta Bowl and you got time to read this blog post? Pick up some Tostitos and salsa, get to a viewing party and scream your lungs out. Making your winter break productive can wait until tomorrow. When you do wake up tomorrow afternoon start working on your FASFA. The form will be due before you know it. Get it out of the way before classes start.