This Program Helps Freshmen Prepare For The Rigors Of B-School

University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business’ Summer Connection program gives students chance to ‘invest in themselves.’ Courtesy

AN INVESTMENT IN STUDENTS

Ross Summer Connection is free for incoming freshmen invited to the program and even provides a stipend to help recoup their personal expenses. It’s important to Connection staff that the program truly supports the incoming students and provides them with the time, resources, and connections to succeed at the Ross School of Business, Todd tells P&Q.

“We are paying them to invest in themselves,” she says. “Think about a senior in high school who gives up this chunk of time during their last summer before going to college, so we really put a lot more emphasis on offering that chance to invest in themselves.”

Rhonda Todd, director of academic success

The program connects students with resources to help navigate the first year of college in general and the rigorous programs of Ross specifically.

“My main takeaway from the program is that the resources at Michigan are abundant and I just have to put in the effort to utilize them,” said participant Sandeep Singh, BBA ’25. “Most importantly, Michigan culture is one of collaboration, and I should not be afraid to reach out and ask for help.”

PIVOT TO VIRTUAL

As with incalculable other programs at Ross and universities around the world, COVID forced a pivot to virtual the last two summers. It was scaled back to 3 ½ weeks, and students missed out on the campus tours and other in-person meetings. However, the format had its advantages. 

First and foremost, more students were able to participate, and this summer was the program’s largest cohort ever with 45 students. That’s up from 30 in previous summers and up significantly from the 19 students in 2020, the first time the program was offered virtually because of the pandemic. 

“It was exciting that there was such a large interest when students had already been virtual for about a year and a half,” Clarkson says.

Students seemed to make the most of the on-line connections they made in the virtual sessions, adding presenters and industry

Sandeep Singh, BBA ’25

speakers to their Linked-In networks and building upon student and mentor relationships started in the program. Clarkson says students have sent them pictures of participant meet-ups at University of Michigan football games, at movie nights, and from group study sessions.

“They have definitely leaned into what (Clarkson) has put together with the schedule and then they take advantage of it outside the virtual sessions,” Todd says.

Organizers hope the program can return to an in-person, on-campus experience this summer, but that is still to be determined.

STUDENTS MENTORING STUDENTS

Perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of the program are participants’ connections with a student mentor, most of whom have gone through the program themselves.

Hailey Love, BBA ’25

“My Ross Summer Connection mentors have been guiding hands and friends since I arrived on campus,” says Hailey Love, BBA ’25.  “I can always look to them for advice, clarification, or help with navigating college.”  

Mentors themselves get valuable lessons in leadership, providing meaningful mentorship, and giving back to a community that contributed to their own success.

“That’s part of being a productive citizen, and we want students, especially if they are going into business, to be teammates, to be peer advisors, to think about other people. When you learn, you teach, and the student mentors are excited about that,” Todd says.

Clarkson agrees. In fact, some of the best ideas for professional development workshops, networking and other program events come from the student mentors themselves, she says.

Izzy Martini, BBA ’23

Participants in Ross Summer Connection can reach out to their mentors throughout the year, and many of the connections stretch beyond. Izzy Martini, BBA ‘23, says her favorite part of being a mentor is watching the participants achieve goals they set for themselves.

“At the beginning of every semester we set different goals that students want to try to accomplish at Michigan Ross and they never fail to amaze me by doing incredible things such as landing internships, or becoming presidents of different clubs,” she says.

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