Street Cred

When we made the transition from a traditional academic advising center to the Office of Professional Development, we went looking for career coaches. We wanted to hire people who had current experience helping employers find talent to staff their companies. In short, we wanted people who had “Street Cred” — Professionals who could share this first-hand knowledge with our incoming juniors as we challenge students to make their own career management a priority as soon as they enter the College. To underscore the importance of keeping their knowledge current, we told our new coaches that we didn’t want them to stay with us too long. Instead we hoped that they would use this new experience as a stepping stone to their next opportunity, perhaps with a company or as a disciple who could help another school start down the same path as us. We thought that our coaches should exhibit the same proactive career management qualities that we seek to instill in our 8000 students.

So, it should come as no surprise that they listened to us. This week, Kelly Bogey is moving on. Kelly is a graduate of the college. She is the very first alum I met after arriving at UCF. She came to us from WilsonHCG where she helped companies develop and implement their talent acquisition strategies. Kelly has worked primarily with our accounting students and created our very popular #UCFBizChat Twitter chats that give students the opportunity to get quick advice from thought leaders in the career management field. She will be taking these experiences to Grant Thornton where she will recruit students from a number of universities including UCF. So even though she will not be with the college anymore, Kelly will still be helping our students launch their professional careers. Her last day with us is Wednesday.

If you are one of the many students Kelly has helped along the way, send her a thank you note. If you are one of the few skeptical students who told her (or another career coach) that you didn’t think you needed this form of help, you probably shouldn’t apply to Grant Thornton. If you are Mitch Less, you are smiling, knowing your firm just made a terrific hire with a lot of insider information about where talent lies at your alma mater.
We expect great things from you Kelly. Please visit early and often. To repeat what Dr. Hitt told you at graduation: You are now and will forever be, a UCF Knight. Charge On, girl.

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Swagger

I want UCF students to get a great education.  This is not just about whether they have a solid grasp of statistics, finance, marketing or management.  Understanding these topics gets you a good education, not a great one.  A great education requires things that transcend a specific course or major.

First there must be some “aha moments”: eye-opening interactions that expand your horizons; presenting you with new possibilities, challenges, and perspectives on the world. Aha moments come from interacting with accomplished faculty, dedicated staff and engaged students who challenge your values and world view while raising your aspirations.

Second, a great education helps students make good choices about their careers and life.  It allows students to realistically preview different paths, better understand their interests, strengths, and weaknesses, and helps them develop a realistic plan to achieve their goals.  This requires students to get out of their comfort zones, experiment, build relationships with people who are different than themselves and risk failure so that they can succeed.

Finally, a great education gives students the confidence, knowledge and skills to compete with anyone, anywhere, no matter what the competition’s pedigree.  This comes from being in a competitive environment that helps students improve their performance through sustained effort combined with strong developmental feedback.

If you got these three things, you got a great education.  And a tell-tale sign that someone got a great education is what baseball coaches call swagger.  They look for it when players step up to the plate.  It is a critical quality in a game where you fail (get out) way more frequently than you succeed (get a hit).  Ricky Henderson, perhaps the greatest lead-off hitter of all time was famous for repeating under his breath: “You are the greatest Rickey” every time he stepped into the batter’s box.  If he struck out, he could be heard saying on his way back to the dugout: “You’re still the greatest Rickey.”  Rickey had swagger and people wanted him on their team.

Knights need swagger too. Be prepared: I am going to be looking to instill some swagger in all of you.

The Value of a Fast Start

Among the many hands I shook last Saturday were two that left the stage and went straight to the airport.  They were headed to Europe together  to backpack for a few weeks and meet the locals.  No they are not rich kids or slackers.  These two guys already had jobs lined up before they graduated.  They were just taking a few weeks to continue to do what they had already done while at UCF:  Enjoy their first mover advantage.

Both of these guys got after it early and often.  Anthony had internships at Aon Hewitt and Verizon.  He rose to be president of our FMA student chapter and after meeting someone from Bloomberg in a New York bar and telling them what we were doing at UCF, got an invitation for the entire FMA group to tour their offices.  Anthony also got his classmates to take the BAT exam and generated lots of buzz for our CFA track.  Would it surprise you to learn this landed him a finance job in NYC?  For his part, Dionte interned at Florida Hospital and Siemens.  He also found the time to undertake research on the correlation between dementia and falls in long-term care facilities as part of the RAMP program at UCF.  Dionte talked his way into becoming a College of Business Student Ambassador (where he joined Anthony) even though he was a healthcare administration major.  He showed so much charm and swagger as a student with a business minor that we just adopted him. He took all these experiences and landed a spot in the Commercial Leadership Program with GE Healthcare.

So while far too many of Saturday’s graduates are still trying to figure out “what’s next”, Dionte and Anthony have already set their futures in motion.  They used their time at UCF to get to their “one” and are continuing to dive into new experiences that are outside of their comfort zones so that they can do stuff like this:

      

As my Aussie friends would say:  good on you, mates.  Life is cumulative and your fast starts have you two well in the lead. I plan on sharing your travels with the 800 or so students I’ll greet at our summer version of “Welcome to the Majors” this Friday.  You may have graduated, but you continue to be great ambassadors for the culture of engagement we are creating in the college.  Thanks for giving me two great examples of the value of getting off to a quick start.

Graduation and Mother’s Day

My blog posts usually come out on Monday, but I’m making an exception today.

Friday night I got an email from a mom. Usually when I get a message from a parent, it’s because a son or daughter is having some difficulty in school and they are seeking my intervention. This one was different. It was a thank you note to everyone in the UCF College of Business who had helped shape her son’s experience. She wrote in part:

To my son, there are many instructors in the College of Business who are one of a kind. Dr. R who taught Derivatives, Dr. Steiger from Professional Sales, Dr. Sweo who taught international business, and many more who brought real world experience to the classroom and challenged him academically. Jamie took advantage of two out of hundreds of job placements that are available. In the fall he will attend his number one choice of schools for a Masters in Finance.

While our son is one in a million to us, we think UCF is number one for providing him, and many others, a rich and rewarding college experience. Thank you for all you, your faculty and staff do on your student’s behalf!

Her kind note was on my mind as I shook 800 hands Saturday morning. I had always questioned why Spring graduation typically falls the day before Mother’s Day. It always seemed to me like it was just too much for one weekend. But as I exited the arena and saw the smiles on faces, it occurred to me that graduation is, in many ways, an early Mother’s Day present to all those ladies who worked tirelessly to put their child in the position to walk across the stage and into a better future.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all 800 of those mom’s in attendance yesterday: You did good. Take the day off. And, thanks for letting us help shape the lives of your sons and daughters. They will be forever Knights. I didn’t get pictures from all of them, but I’d like to share a few of my favorites below. After all, I consider them my kids too….

  Grad 2015

Where’s Next?

We graduate more than a thousand students from the college each year.  About 70% stay in Florida, about 50% stay in Central Florida.  A few venture far and wide.

Three of my favorites: Evan, Anthony and Renee are headed to the Big Apple.  Yelp, Citibank, and McGladrey will never be the same.  Yes, I know Renee will be back in the fall for her Masters in Accounting, but three months in New York City and I’m guessing she’ll be itching to get back there in a year.  Evan is starting in sales, but I see him owning a company very soon.  Anthony,  well he’s a great example of a risk-taking, data-driven decision-maker.  He’s also got that Wall Street swagger.  He’s going to do more than be just fine.

Graduation, young Knights, isn’t the end.  It’s not an “is that all there is??”  moment.  It’s an “I’ve got next” moment.  So where’s next for you graduates? Tweet me your answer all this week using the link below.

And don’t forget to use #UCFBUSINESS.  I’ll give you a tweet back during graduation.

#CHARGEON