How do companies view the school and how does the school manage its relationship with recruiters?
We have such strong employer relationships because the first of every month we meet with our advisory council, and the employers just compete with each other for our students. The Big Four firms say, ‘You have more students than I did this year. That’s not going to happen next year.’ For business schools, that’s awesome because you can keep them fighting amongst themselves.
The school has something called “takeover weeks”, which is when PWC or Deloitte or KPG or any firm, frankly, will come in and take over the business building with signage. They host a lot of events, hold a lot of information sessions and help the students understand the company. There are so many alums that work at these places, so you get young and older alums on campus. That’s been a fantastic thing for me to walk into. Companies are here pretty frequently, so we have really close relationships with our recruiters. We have great professional development, which is why we have such strong outcomes.
Finance is our biggest major, and we have strong relationships with recruiters from Wall Street banks, wealth management and investment banking. We also have strong relationships in accounting and management information systems. We have a Center of Marketing and Consumer Insight, so we’ve established some really great relationships with a lot of companies up in New York. We have recruiters come here, or we take our students to the company sites. Our students like a personal connection with recruiters, and our recruiters are really good at doing that.
A lot of schools do professional development, and ours is built into the curriculum. Every year, from freshman year to senior year, students take a course credit associated with professional development. For example, freshman year, they do their resume and attend networking events. They learn about business etiquette, do mock interviews, and there’s a huge case competition that all juniors are involved in where we work with employers. We like to build those connections with employers, which will become more important as employers reach down lower and lower to freshman to get them exposed to companies sooner.
What are some of the goals you have as dean for the next few years?
My goal is predominately to continue to get our brand and visibility out there because as a national university we want people to know more about who we are and I’d love for us to do more in alumni programming. A lot of people went to their undergraduate institution, go out and get a job and then run into layoffs or career changes. I want to look at what we are doing as a business school to help those people, and if we could be doing more with career services and programming. That requires some infrastructure, and we need to figure out what we can do as a business school to provide help for those people. It would be great to help alums as they continue their work journey for the next 20, 30 years because people are staying in the work force longer. A lot of alums come back and do stuff for us, but we as a business school should help them become life long learners as well.
I’m also excited about the interesting the things that the business school can do to partner with other schools on campus. We already have good partnerships on campus, and I’d like to try to build on those. We’re talking to a lot of other colleges about creating interdisciplinary programs, and are looking at how can we partner more with the computer science, math and engineering departments, especially in the areas of cyber security, health care and analytics. We’re looking in that space because employers need people with skills in that field
What advice do you have for parents and would-be students in choosing a quality undergraduate business program?
I think they need to visit. I don’t think you can ever make a decision based on paper alone. I’ve met a lot of high school students, and they have their opinions. You want them to come to campus to get a feel for whether or not this is a culture they could feel part of. Could they see themselves as one of those students? I think they also want to do research on the best schools as it relates to career outcomes, and also the opportunities available in terms of internships and global experiences. For example, I love the fact that at our school, students can take advantage of our global opportunities, do an internship and get course credit.
That way, they don’t fall behind with coursework. Another thing to look at is do students have the opportunity to be creative and innovative, or is the curriculum so rigid that you can’t get a business degree and also do a major or minor in language. They should also look at whether they get to meet with faculty and administrators frequently because if they don’t come out when the school is having events, what does that say about the school? For us, we have a very high-touch program and our faculty is always at events and meeting with prospective students. From a parent’s perspective, you want to know is my child going to fall through the cracks or will someone care about them?
What is the advantage for students in being so close to Philadelphia?
I think we’re in a really great location. From campus they can easily take the train into Philadelphia or New York. That’s where a lot of students want to be in terms of the Northeast if they’re looking for finance or accounting jobs. There are also a lot of exciting marketing and consulting jobs in these areas, too. I think our location helps us, especially for faculty and students because it gives us a competitive edge.