A Last Act of Distinction

For our about 650 graduating seniors, this is their last week as an undergraduate student. Friday is graduation. I have been preaching for almost two years now about the need for students to differentiate themselves so that when Friday comes they know how to answer the question: “why you, why you rather than one of the other 650 UCF College of Business students graduating today?”

If you are still questioning whether you have done enough to distinguish yourself while at UCF, I would suggest that you use part of your last four days with us to write a heartfelt note of thanks (or an email) to the professor who did the most for you at UCF. Let them know how much it meant to you to have them as a professor and what your plans are for the future. Then a year from now, follow up with another note telling then how you are doing.

I guarantee you, the faculty member will be impressed by the gesture, remember you, and be willing to advocate for you in the future. The road on which you are about to embark is filled with opportunities and threats. It will be clear and smooth at some points while rocky and uncertain at others. It never hurts to start the journey knowing that there are old friends and mentors who can help you along the way. So take the time to gather your forces now by thanking those who have gotten you this far. Be ready now, for Friday awaits.

Good luck to you young Knights. The faculty and staff of the College of Business know you are ready, that all of our futures are intertwined and that you will do great things. Fortune, it is said, favors the bold. Charge On!

Dr. Porter, Glenda the Good Witch and the transformation of Elizabeth Krekel

On Friday we held our first annual Dean’s Awards recognition breakfast. Despite it being Good Friday and 7:30 am, more than 150 students, faculty, staff and Dean’s Advisory Board Members came out for the event. The idea behind these awards is to recognize people and actions that are contributing to an engaging culture in the College, one that stresses getting out of your comfort zone, risk-taking, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and data-driven decision-making.

We received over 80 nominations across ten different awards. The stiffest competition was for “Most Transformative Moment” — an instance where an interaction with a faculty member changed the course of the student’s life or got them to see the world in a different way. Fifteen different faculty members were nominated by a student for this award. Some of those fifteen faculty received nominations from multiple students. A committee of the Dean’s Advisory Board chose the winner. All of the members of the selection committee commented on how satisfying it was to read these students’ stories and how they affirmed the many great things our faculty do here each day.

Space doesn’t permit me to share all these stories with you, but the winning entry by Elizabeth Krekel is provided below:

….I had the opportunity to take Dr. Robert Porter’s Applied Strategic Management graduate course. In May, at the end of the course, the class would graduate with a Master of Business Administration.

As my classmates seemed to be confident in their abilities, I could only think of all the reasons why employers would not hire me, instead of all the reasons why employers would. I have five degrees and three certificates from six schools in three different countries and really felt unemployable. The lack of confidence is not a good foundation when seeking employment.

I sought advice from many people, but no one was able to help me on the path of self-discovery as Dr. Porter. Although he was able to see potential in me, he knew that I needed to discover it myself. In The Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch of the North told Dorothy that she always had the power to go back to Kansas, but she had to discover it for herself. Confidence is priceless and extremely important in the business world.

Through a series of assignments in his class and one-on-one conversations, I was able to gain confidence and to be confident with my inner self which was really transformative. My journey with self-confidence was not just one one-on-one conversation, but many and Dr. Porter was there to listen and give advice at each point in my zigzag life.

In his course, besides confidence, I also gained direction. I was able to see that I could compete with others (as team leader, I led 4 of 5 non-native English teammates to the best project in class) and I realized how much I love working with international cultures and travel.

In a career strategy paper for Dr. Porter’s class, I wrote,

“In looking at the ‘Flower Diagram,’ career and personality assessments, and my past experiences, I would enjoy the following careers: a U.S. National park ranger, a travel guide or travel book / article writer, an United Nations employee, an International trade/product broker, a Culture advisor for foreign visitors to US and vice versa, or an administrator for a non-profit organization supporting third or even second world countries.”

Since Dr. Porter’s class, I wrote a few travel guides, worked in Beijing, China for a global consulting company, and currently, work for Central Florida International Trade Office in Orlando, Florida. My current job meshes my love for international affairs with business and trade. Dr. Porter stressed the importance of finding your passion and following that passion.

I truly believe that my life the last two years would not have been as fulfilling if I had chosen a different professor for the course. I definitely would not have the career I have today without Dr. Porter’s support and advice.

Well done Dr. Porter, well done.

And a thank you to Leif Bang, Wells Fargo and Dave and Donna Patton for sponsoring our awards. I can’t wait to read next year’s.

Study Abroad

In a news story last week published by the Central Florida Future, headlined: “College of Business Administration suspends study abroad program” – readers may have been left with the idea that study abroad is unavailable or that the college has eliminated it all together: Neither of those is true.

In the course of reorganizing student services and creating our Office for Professional Development, we found that there were some issues and inconsistencies in our study abroad program that need to be addressed. Most importantly, there have been cases where some students have not had sufficient courses available to them upon their arrival at our study abroad partner to meet their academic needs. So we have suspended the CBA program to new applicants and are working on making the necessary adjustments. Study abroad is a life-changing experience for many students that we are committed to offering to CBA students. We hope to have at least some program fixes in place by fall semester and the return of a more robust program by Spring 2015.

If you were already approved for a study abroad experience, we are honoring those approvals. If you have not applied for such an experience and wish to enroll in a study abroad program over the summer or early fall, we would suggest that you enroll in a program at another SUS institution (e.g., UF, FSU). As long as you take courses during your study abroad experience that are part of the statewide common course numbering system, you can then transfer those credits back to UCF. If you have any questions about this, please contact Dr. Ellis at tellis@bus.ucf.edu

Successfully Navigating Our Professional Development Center

As we continue to roll out our Professional Development Center, you will see our career coaches and peer advisors take on distinctly different roles. Who you will see depends on your needs.

Our new career coaches were hired to help students identify their professional aspirations and develop a plan to achieve those goals through co-curricular activities, sharpening career management skills, and effectively landing a job in their chosen field. They are focused on helping you get the most out of your time in college and successfully transitioning from school to the professional world. Think of the career coaches as “outside experts.” They know what employers are looking for–they all have experience recruiting for them. What the career coaches are not, are experts on the catalogue, it’s rules and the ins and outs of the curriculum.

It is the peer advisors that are armed with this information. Not only do they receive training on the catalogue and the application of its rules, these are students who are living the curriculum just like you. They understand not just the requirements, but what it is like to take classes in the college and the various demands professors place on students. Think of them as “inside experts,” who can help you successfully navigate the degree audit and graduate on time.

It is also important to understand that neither the career coaches or the peer advisors are authorized to waive requirements or grant course substitutions. Those decisions reside with the faculty and as such reside with the departments in consultation with our Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs. That is what the appeals process is designed to address. Know that exceptions are rare, but that on occasion a unique set of circumstances can arise that merit an exception.

We see our new Professional Development Center as a huge step forward in preparing our students for the challenges that lie ahead. By better understanding who does what in this office we hope to make your visit both satisfying and effective.