Thanks to career coach Kelly Bogey (@KBogeyUCF) and social media whiz Jonathan Gabriel (aka @UCFBusiness), the College of Business was the first college on campus to host a Twitter career chat.  The idea was to have Kelly and Jonathan pose questions, I provided initial answers and then others chimed in: Think of it as crowd sourcing career advice.  The event took place Friday from 11:30 to noon.  You can see the exchanges in their entirety by clicking here.

For those of you who just want the highlights, below is each question Kelly and Jonathan posed followed by my favorite comment from a participant.  If you want to read my responses, you have to go to the full Storify link impeded in the “here” at the end of the last paragraph.

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(Scott by the way, is a race car driver. He knows something about risk.)

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 alexa☮ @365breaths

@UCFBusiness A2: exposes you to parts of the world you might not have known before! W/out student orgs, I wouldn’t be studying economics!

(I admit it, I’m a sucker for econ majors.)

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 Rebekah Higgs @redheadedsweeti

@UCFBusiness surround yourself with positive people. “You are who you hang out with.” So make wise choices.

(I had very different answers to this question than students… hmmm)

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Bethany @bethanyalcordo 

A4: get with a professional or professor to mentor you! Learn from others that have the qualities you want develop

(There were lots of comments about the value of mentors.  They can’t all be wrong..)

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Eric Michael @WhiskeyTacoBoat 

A5 Be proactive, identify companies you admire, find alumni working there thru linkedin and reach out – most will help

(Not sure about the Twitter handle, but excellent advice…remember you are cute and cuddly.)

Again, you can read lots more by clicking on the imbedded link above.  Lots of wisdom from fellow UCF students.

So @UCFBusiness and @KBogeyUCF:   When is the next #ucfbizchat going to be?

Re-Post Wednesday: 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 (trust me you couldn’t make that up) and another pulled tiny black lace barbie underwear 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. If not, well we kind of consider you an under-achiever. By the way, the average project takes more than two years to complete. Eighty-five to ninety 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 its 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 underwear in your pocket, just engage, appreciate the insight and put it to good use.

Teacher Palooza

A few weeks ago Elliot Vittes challenged the Deans at UCF to compete in Teacher Palooza as part of family weekend. The challenge involved teaching a simulated class of five 7th graders for three minutes with the goal of convincing them that attending our undergraduate alma mater was a good goal for these students.

The simulated classroom technology (TeachLiVE) is the product of a joint effort between the UCF Institute for Simulation & Training and the Colleges of Education and Engineering. It is used to introduce aspiring educators to the realities of the classroom. Our five students were a diverse lot: an aspiring pilot, an over enthusiastic naturalist hoping to be an engineer, a dude who wanted to be a DJ, a whisperer who didn’t want to admit to liking anything, and a girl waiting to be discovered as a reality TV star.

Five deans took Elliot’s challenge: Grant Hayes (Education), Mike Frumpkin (COPA), Michael Georgiopoulos (Engineering), Ross Hinkle (Graduate School) and me.

We drew lots for our order of presentation. I got to go last. That was a big advantage: I got to learn a little more about my students before making my pitch. I also got to learn that Mike G did his undergrad in Greece and Ross went to some small school built out in a pasture that nobody heard of…. They were dead meat. Grant was the ringer here, but I was most worried about Mike F….He went to NYU and wasn’t afraid to play his New York City card. Don’t be fooled, social workers can be ruthless.

When my turn came, I talked about a school that taught me about the importance of expecting greatness and provided a list of astronauts, performers, writers, Dee Jays and leaders who got their start in Ann Arbor, learned big ideas and went on to do what their alma mater expected of them. I also threw in the Big House.

When it was all done?

Well let’s just say….

“Come believe in something greater than yourself. Put your grand imagination to work. Come join the leaders and best–The victors valiant. Come to Michigan.”


Re-Post Wednesday: Your Friends Are Redundant

You have all heard the expression: “It is not just what you know, but who you know that matters.” Well, your friends don’t know much. Okay, that is a little harsh. More precisely, your friends tend to know the same things you do. From an information acquisition perspective, they are redundant.

This tends to be the natural state of affairs because most people befriend people who are just like them. This makes life comfortable, but dull. If you want to have an exciting, challenging, highly successful life, you need to get out of your comfort zone and actively search out people who are different from you. You want to meet people who can expand your knowledge base, introduce you to new experiences, and broaden your perspective. Be purposeful about this.

I have friends who study the structure of human interactions in the workplace and other settings. It is called social network analysis. They look at who knows who, who people go to when they need information or help, and how the patterns of people’s interactions differ. It turns out that people with different types of social networks perform differently at work. In other words, who you know and who and what they know really does matter.

For example, managers with more dispersed networks–people who know more people from different parts of the organization as well as many people outside the organization get promoted more quickly and earn more money than managers who tend to only associate with people in their work group. And building a broad network with many casual friends who you only interact with once in a while tends to be more valuable than focusing on building a network with more frequent interactions involving a close set of friends.

Why? Most innovation is stealing. New ideas are scarce, but many old ideas can be applied in new settings. Lots of innovation comes from taking something that was tried successfully in one setting and adapting it to another, or from combining existing things in new ways. The more people you know in different settings, the more likely you are to discover something you can apply in your work. And the broader your social network, the more people who will see your genius in action and spread the word to others that you are a rising star. The result: promotion and higher pay.

So stop hanging out just with people from your high school or people who have the same major you do, or like the same music you do, and find some people who are as different from you as possible and get to know them. I would especially recommend that you get to know some international students–they have very different experiences and perspectives, many come from emerging markets and given globalization are people you are likely to be doing business with some day. Developing those contacts now could pay off big later.

Where is UCF?

I spent part of last week in Atlanta visiting with alums and donors while recruiting a new member to my Dean’s Advisory Board. Everyone I met asked essentially the same question: Where is UCF? Why don’t I see UCF recruiting students in our schools? Why don’t I see UCF alums in my company? Why don’t I see a visible UCF alumni presence in our community? Not the “Where’s UCF?” question we are used to hearing, but this version of the question, like its “in Orlando” cousin, touch on our awareness challenge.

Part of the issue is that UCF is young and just reaching the national stage. Building visibility takes time. Part of the issue is that most of our students love the state of Florida and want to stay here. Expanding young Knights’ horizons, many of whom are first generation college students, also takes time. That said, “Where is UCF?” is a valid question that comes from a reasonable expectation that the second largest university in the nation should cast a very large shadow across the country. Our national presence should not be left to chance. We need a coordinated strategy.

Developing such a strategy has preoccupied my mind since returning from Georgia. I don’t have all the answers, but I am tempted to start by taking a page out of the DeVos program’s play book and adding a wrinkle of my own (yes students I’m making another sports analogy) . Today, the DeVos students are in Chicago. They are traveling to explore opportunities in sports management and marketing, meet with high level people at key companies and network with alums. Think of it as DeVos invades Chicago. I would like to do something similar with groups of UCF College of Business students in selected cities where we have a reasonable concentration of alums (e.g., Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle) who could help. “host” the event. My twist: I want students to spend a day working with UCF admissions staff visiting schools and recruiting high school students to campus.

Yes, budget is a challenge. But as a sign in my office says: We haven’t the money so we’ve got to think. The other reason we should think is that the potential benefits of this strategy are huge: (1) it would be a good way to expand students’ horizons by showing them life outside Florida; (2) the travel opportunities could be structured as rewards for student behaviors we wish to promote; (3) we could attract more high achieving students to the college; (4) the opportunity to network with current UCF students could mobilize the alumni base and serve as the basis for “UCF Days” in the companies we visit; and (5) all of this concentrated effort should raise our visibility in these cities and across America as a whole.

I am going to ask my Dean’s Advisory Board at our next meeting to take on this challenge and help us develop, fund and implement a plan to increase the College’s visibility in large metropolitan areas across America. My idea is just a starting point for that conversation. Kelly and I have spent a great deal of time over the last year building the national scope of the board. It’s time to put them to work.

The answer to the “Where’s UCF” question needs to be “Everywhere.”

Risky Business II

I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a sequel to Risky Business.  Perhaps Tom Cruise was just too busy?   Maybe Lana just lost interest in Joel?  I fear college taught Joel to play it safe, too safe for a blockbuster sequel.

Undaunted, our College of Business Ambassadors have decided there should be a sequel to my Risky Business blog post from a while back (you can read that by clicking here).  So this week from Tuesday through Thursday, they will be encouraging students to write about a risk they want to take while at UCF — a risk that they believe will help “get them to the one”.  And to showcase this exercise in risk-taking, the Ambassadors are going to have you all do it on the glass front of the Office of Professional Development in BA II.   That’s right: You need to leave it on the glass, complete with your name.

Maybe the opportunity to write on the career coaches’ windows will inspire you.  Maybe what you write will inspire someone else. Maybe your words will earn you a spot on our video screen in the atrium. What your participation is sure to do is drive Richard Caldwell, a former marine and our chief of “operational order,” a bit crazy. It’s okay, he needs to become a little flexible, but understand if you move from the glass to the walls, I won’t be able to save you from a man who has been trained to kill — the exercise is about encouraging smart risks people. Be bold, not reckless.


Repost Wednesday: 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. In fact, 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.

In your junior year apply to be a part of the College’s mentoring program. One of the great things about UCF is that many of our alumni still live in Orlando and are eager to help you get a great start to your professional career. This is not just a matter of altruism, for your success is their success—the more successful UCF alumni there are, the greater the value of their degree. Many alums have volunteered their time to spend a day with a student at their workplace explaining what they do and engaging students in discussions about how they can achieve their aspirations.

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.

Dine with the Dean

One of the very first blog posts I wrote was about hosting dinner in the College. I wanted students to dine with Ron Popiel, Mel Kiper Jr. and Snooki because they had each invented entirely new careers. There were no infomercial hawkers, draft analysts, or serial reality tv stars before these pioneers. They “got to the one,” by inventing entire categories. I had lots of questions for them. I guessed students would have lots of questions for them too. (You can read that old post by clicking here.)

My offer to those celebrities still stands. In the meantime, I am inviting students to dine with me without Ron, Mel and Snooki. I know it’s not as appealing an invite, but I’m very interested in the stories students are writing while at UCF. I want to know how their experience in the College has surprised them, disappointed them, inspired them, and given them the opportunities they seek to realize their career goals. As the guy responsible for thinking about the College’s future and how to get us there, this is especially valuable information to me. For my guests, they not only get free food, but the opportunity to offer opinions that will shape the future of the place. It’s also a good time to get my advice about career goals as well as how to get the most out of your time on campus. Oh yea, and there is a photo op that will land you on the big screen in the atrium, just like the ones below.

So if you see me in the hall, get out of your comfort zone and say hello. Introduce yourself and let me know that you want to talk about your UCF experience, what you want to do with your one precious life and your plan to "get to the one". You just might get an invite to dine with me and share your story.