In our continuing effort to explain the advantages of our new Integrated Business Major that will launch next fall, I have asked some of our alumni who helped design the program to explain why they think the new program is so valuable…
Dean Caravelis is a graduate of our MBA program, a member of the College of Business Alumni Association Board and owner of Blezoo.
“Adapting to Change,” a term we have all heard and also one of the main topics drilled over and over into my head during my UCF education. It is no coincidence that adapting to change would be the key to my survival and growth in a small business environment. I’ve had to continuously adapt to unique work dynamics, learn completely new skills, take calculated risks and push myself way out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, I came to the realization that to be an entrepreneur you need to “embrace being a fish out water and revel in it”.
After working no more than 300 hours for a fashion jewelry distributor, I earned the title of Marketing Director when I was a wide-eyed 25 years old with a newly minted MBA. I was essentially told: figure out our industry, understand licensing, bridge the gap between the marketing and sales departments, modernize the company’s marketing and by the way you have 3 months to sink or swim! I swam, but not knowing that my biggest tests were still ahead.
Five years later, when I started my business ‘Blezoo’, I had little to no sales experience. This was a problem. With any new business, cash flow is the lifeblood of survival. In desperate need of orders, I had to reinvent myself into a ‘Sales Director’. Once again, I became a fish out of water going and meeting with people during a deep recession and convincing them to spend their money with an unfamiliar new company. I nearly drowned in the process, but I was willing to adapt to change and push the limits of my comfort zone. Sometimes you have to tread water before you swim.
Networking and making connections allowed me to survive the recession. It took me a few years to figure out what networking actually means because like most people, I had a misconception about the process. It is actually making human connections, understanding how we are all interrelated and then taking proactive steps to energize your network. It is all about adding value to others; which in turn will elevate your visibility and credibility by ten fold. It all starts with making human connections. Adapting to change, getting out of my comfort zone and reinventing myself as a Sales Director allowed for me to embrace this definition of networking.
You never know how your career path will develop when you are a student, but while at UCF, I did know one thing: I didn’t want to be a cog in the machine. I wanted to work in a small to medium sized business environment where I could learn many skills and be able to make a significant impact on an organization at a grassroots level. If I were a student today, I would jump at the opportunity to earn UCF’s Integrated Business degree. It focuses on the skills necessary to succeed in the small to medium sized business environment. This degree teaches and develops problem solving, data analysis and collaboration skills needed in order to be better prepared for the real world. Most importantly, it will get you out of your comfort zone early in your career and teach you how to start embracing and reveling being a fish out of water.