Only the Lawyers Cried

Homecoming Week is a busy one.  In addition to honoring Terry McNew at the Black & Gold Gala, we had our Dean’s Advisory Board Meeting, opened The Exchange and had a flurry of activity on Facebook.  As it turned out, all of these things became related.  Let me explain.

Part of our Dean’s Advisory Board meeting was spent interviewing 100 students.  Each board member had one-on-one conversations with four different students.  Each conversation started with the same question: Tell me what you want to do when you graduate from UCF and what you are doing now to make sure you accomplish your career goal.  After each ten minute conversation, our board member filled out an evaluation of how the conversation went with the student. When all the interviews were done, we tabulated the results and spent an hour talking about the experience.

The short story is that the students went 3 for 4.  Three out of four students had a career goal and could talk about what they were doing at UCF to prepare themselves for that future.  The fourth had a rougher go. The discussions that fell short ranged from vague to indifferent. Consistently going three for four in baseball gets you in the Hall of Fame.  Doing that in higher education earns you a “C”.

The very next day, one of our board members had the opportunity to do a similar exercise (i.e., mock interviews) with soon-to-be graduating law school students.  After her session with these students, she posted the following on Facebook:

Made two law students cry today doing mock interviews.  They are graduating in May and could not tell me what they wanted to do when they graduate. I reminded them that 3,190 students will graduate from law school in Florida this year and asked them why any employer would hire them over the other 3,188 if they can’t even tell me why the are “the one?”  I have been hanging out with Paul Jarley too much.

A flurry of comments followed.  I posted that the students cried because my advisory board member’s reminder told them what they feared they already knew.

That same day we were opening The Exchange in BA 1. There Terry McNew, the very alumnus we honored the night before at the Black &Gold Gala was telling students about his career journey to leadership at MasterCraft.  One hundred and twenty students chose to hear him speak rather than go to Spirit Splash.  They came with good questions and gained insight into how to become “the one”.  I’m betting our attendees won’t cry at their mock interviews.  The students even stuck around to take a picture with Terry.  We couldn’t fit them all in the frame, but it looked like this:

McNew Photo at Exchange

To join us in The Exchange and discuss something important to your future, click here.  Leave the crying to the lawyers.


Outside the Lines

The Ambassadors put tape down on the floor in BA1 last week creating lanes that lead people to touch screens.  Next to the touch screens are cards that ask the reader to access a resource that will help plan their road to “the one.”  There are different resources at different touch screens.  It’s a bit like a scavenger hunt that ends with you having a plan to be different.  Cool idea.

What has been most fun though, is to watch people confront the lanes on the floor. Most immediately walk inside of them, usually as down the middle as possible, even if they aren’t participating in the exercise.  It’s a powerful reminder of our tendency to want to conform.

Of course it’s hard to differentiate yourself by walking down the middle of the same lines as everyone else.  I know the Ambassadors understand this and I wouldn’t put it past them to put one card box outside the lines…maybe with an invitation to the next dean’s pizza lunch.  Just wondering out loud…

Introducing “The Exchange”

Thanks to the generous support of our friends at FAIRWINDS Credit Union, next week the Magruder Lab becomes The Exchange.

The idea behind The Exchange is simple: The best education occurs when you get a chance to sit and have a conversation with someone who has something interesting to say.  The more opportunities you have to participate in such conversations, the more you are going to learn.

So, we plan to have 25,000 opportunities for such conversations in The Exchange each semester.  You read that right: 25,000.

Here’s how that’s going to work.  Every week day, we will have someone in The Exchange with something interesting to say.  That person could be an employer, alumnus, faculty member, expert, writer, provocateur, leader, elected official, or fellow student.   They are going to be there to engage you in conversations like:

  1. Here’s what’s going on in my industry and how you can be a part of it.
  2. Here’s is my career story and what you can learn from it.
  3. Here’s my latest research project and why you should care about it.
  4. Here are smart choices you can make now that will position you for success later.
  5. Here are new skills and experiences that are in high demand and how you can acquire them.
  6. Here are obstacles and pitfalls college students face and what you can do to overcome them.
  7. Here’s an emerging trend or issue that is going to impact your life and how you get out in front of it.

I expect these conversations to expand your horizons, change how you view the world, help you make good choices in your life and career and give you the perspective you need to compete with anyone, anywhere.  It is my hope that The Exchange will quickly become the centerpiece of a distinctive UCF College of Business student experience that energizes everyone in the College.

Some days there will only be one session in The Exchange, but most days we expect there will be multiple sessions. Each of our guests will be hosted by a key member of the College: me, an associate dean, department chair, or faculty member.  Each conversation will have up to 120 seats available for students to join the conversation. Each Friday, we will provide students, faculty and staff with a list of the people, topics and times of The Exchange conversations for the next week.  You will be able to reserve your seat through Eventbrite and join the conversation.

Lost on the Highway to “I Am the One”

For ten days in September the Ambassadors challenged students to turn in index cards that briefly explained what they are doing to step out of their comfort zones, gain useful experience and position themselves to “get to the one” so that they can realize the future that they envision.  A few hundred students took up the challenge and the Ambassadors taped up their responses on the window of the Office of Professional Development in the shape of I AM THE 1.  It looked like this:


 Not having a life, I spent a few hours a couple of Saturdays ago reading them. Some extolled the virtuous qualities of the author: “I give 110 percent.”  “I am motivated.” — “I am smart because I have a 4.0.”  Others listed generic experiences they are accumulating while at UCF: “I am in a club.” “I studied abroad.” A few announced they had big goals: “I want to change the world.” “I want to be rich.”

None of the cards I read told me how the student’s actions were going to get them to where they wanted to go.  They were just actions. And none of the students who extolled a quality had a unique one–lots of people were willing to work 110%.  It didn’t make them the one.

The lesson is this: Without knowing where you want to go, there is no way to take actions that are going to get you there before someone else.  Lonny and the career coaches, you got a lot of work to do.