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.