Dean’s Q&A: USC Marshall’s Tyrone Callahan

USC's Marshall School of Business

USC’s Marshall School of Business

What are some of the industry sectors that Marshall students tend to gravitate toward for internships and jobs?   

Similar to many business schools, the top areas students place in are finance, consulting, and marketing. That said, we have a really strong entrepreneurship program that a lot of students pursue.

Employers perceive our students as being strong in the soft skills and we work hard with them on their reading, writing, and presentation skills. That’s still something we, along with everyone else, can continue to improve on, which is the value employers see in students who can communicate ideas well and have excellent critical-thinking skills.

I think with undergraduate business education you are trying to strike a balance, particularly in professional schools, between having students be well-prepared to do what they need to do in the first few years out of school and setting them up for longer-term skill sets that they can use as they switch industries and function roles.

That’s an ongoing discussion we have and really our challenge, both for employers and for us, is to encourage students not to be overly myopic in how they approach education. There’s a tendency for students to worry about, “What do I need to do to get that first job and be well-prepared for a technical interview?” There’s not as much of an urgency or tendency for students to recognize the importance of taking advantage of their undergraduate education to develop these longer-term skills.

What are the advantages for students in attending a school in the heart of Los Angeles and Southern California? 

Los Angeles has a massive and diverse economy. We have plenty of Fortune 500 employers here, but Los Angeles also really has a huge plethora of small- and mid-market kind of companies, so in that sense we’re the East Coast, so to speak, of the Pacific Rim. That’s really kind of a long-term trend we’ve seen, a migration from the Age of the Atlantic to the Age of the Pacific. We’re at the nexus of economic activity, and that overall trend is playing out in Los Angeles in terms of the size, diversity, and nature of the economy. More recently there has really been increasing opportunities in terms of technology in Los Angeles, especially in an area here coined as “Silicon Beach.” The presence of technology companies, whether Internet, social media, or gaming companies, is pretty significant here, so a lot of students are taking advantage of that. Our entrepreneurship program has great industry ties with the startup culture here, particularly around technology, so there are a lot of great opportunities for students.

Obviously, it’s a super-strong area for entertainment, as well, and students also have opportunities in the hospitality or fashion industries.

How will the new undergraduate building improve the campus experience for Marshall business majors? 

It will be a massive improvement. We currently have the business school occupying four primary buildings. This will be a fifth building and the first one to focus 100 percent on undergraduate instruction. Previously, undergraduate courses were sprinkled throughout all of the buildings, and because of that there was no real social or cultural hub, if you will. There have been a number of places where students have congregated when they’ve had to work together on projects, but it’s been a little bit dispersed. This is really going to change that because the whole building is set up with the idea of culture and collaboration for the undergraduate community. Everything from the public spaces to all the breakout rooms was designed with that philosophy in mind. Undergraduate students will have a home on campus and a place that is their own to use as suits them.

We have had a graduate instruction building for a number of years, and these two buildings will be bumped up against each other, with a giant courtyard in the middle. That’s great because there will be more opportunities for our graduate and undergraduate students to interact.

The new building will have a library, café, tons of classroom space, as well as 50 breakout rooms for students to study in and do group work. My office, as well as all of the undergraduate Marshall student affairs functions, will also move over there into a new suite. I’m particularly looking forward to that because currently my office is in an administrative building with another vice deans across the hall. This will be great in terms of interacting with my colleagues for all of the administrative stuff that we do.

All of our offices are moving over to the new undergraduate building later this month. Classes start August 22, so we’re just finishing up signage and furniture delivery and we just got our certificate of occupancy. It is a super-exciting time.


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