At Case Western Reserve University, once you’re in, you’re in. Students who have been accepted can take any of the available classes, whether it’s in computer science, engineering, or business. So, expect to learn from your classmates as much as you learn from your teachers if you’re looking at the Weatherhead School of Business.
“We have a single-door admission process where students can indicate a major interest, but we’re really focused on flexible learning,” Jim Hurley, assistant dean for Undergraduate and Integrated Studies, says. “We think it’s a great thing that our business courses are not populated just by business majors. Creation, innovation and partnerships happen organically at our school.”
Students at Case Western are also allowed to declare almost any major they want after enrolling, with exception to nursing and music. Students in the nursing major follow a strict schedule of class that begins from the first day and music major hopefuls go through interviews.
The undergraduate enrollment at the university is about 5,000, with about 1,300 students in the incoming class each year. There are currently about 700 students in the Weatherhead School. Within Weatherhead, students may choose from a bachelor of science in Accounting or Management as well as a bachelor of arts in Economics, which Hurley says has a “dual personality” since the degree is awarded by the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty at Weatherhead believe in diving deep and diving early. That’s why students take begin taking accounting classes in their first semester.
FINDING SUPPORT AT WEATHERHEAD
Weatherhead’s mixed classes are not the only attraction for prospective students. Alex Doña, who graduated in 2015, transferred to Case Western after three years with the United States Coast Guard academy because of the school’s popularity among employers. He had been on the accounting track within the bachelor of science in Management degree when federal budget cuts were announced.
Even before attending Weatherhead, Doña had an impressive resume. He graduated from the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia. The school placed first for the third consecutive year in Newsweek’s annual ranking of the best high schools in America in 2016. He was also a competitive swimmer in high school while working as a swim coach and lifeguard when not studying.
By the time he arrived at Weatherhead, he had toured in Alaska, London, Iceland, and Nova Scotia. He picked Case Western for it’s swim team and had plans to work on his accounting degree. However, he did neither, instead, he helped establish the Delta Sigma Phi chapter at the university and graduated with a bachelor of science in Management, majoring in Finance. He also completed two minor programs, in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
“The (swim) team, my classmates, and swim coach helped me make smart decisions about sports and about navigating my career,” Doña says. “The school definitely knows the best route to help you succeed.”
Just nine days after graduation, Doña traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin working at Google as an Account Strategist.
BREAKFASTS AND TREKS WITH POTENTIAL FUTURE EMPLOYERS
Dean Hurley’s voice is full of pride as he speaks about Weatherhead School being one of the smallest schools among those that are recognized for their undergraduate business programs. Because the Weatherhead family is small, students and alumni develop close relationships. For example, each semester, students are invited to sign up to be matched with an alumni working in the area they are interested in for mentorship. This program, called Coffee Connections, was launched two years ago by a staff member who saw the value of students being in extended contact with a recent graduate. And some have even lead to job offers.
At the annual Meet-The-Accountants breakfast, accountants ranging from in-house employees to those at the Big 4, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC, meet with Weatherhead students to talk about their experiences and give advice on resumes and directions. Another way Weatherhead gets face time with employers is the Wall Street Trek that lasts two days during the fall break in mid-October. During the trek, 20 sophomores and juniors travel to New York City to do a deep-dive into Wall Street. From an opening reception, to meetings, workshops, and speaker sessions, students learn about what they need to make it to Wall Street and what survival and success there looks like.
“We organized a speed networking luncheon with our alumni and in last year, about nine students got internships after the Wall Street Trek,” Hurley boasts.
In line with Case Western University’s single-door policy, the trek was not limited to just business majors. Among the team this year were international studies and computer science students. While only one in three students who applied were accepted, Hurley says that more than half were business students, with most being from the finance and accounting division.
During his senior year, Doña traveled with about 20 other students to Europe. Of the 14 days, Doña says ten were spent in classroom settings, where they attended different lectures on the impact of the European Union and what a disbanding would mean. The students learned about the social, political, and economic impacts on both the region and globally before they embarked on tours of local businesses to meet with managers and CEOs. From learning how a winery in Germany was affected by trade agreements to the supply and demand of goods and how they were affected by rules and regulations in the union, Doña says the experience was eye-opening coming a year before Brexit happened and Britain left the European Union.
“The cultural experience on top of the business exposure to the school’s network abroad really broadened my horizons,” Doña explains. “To be connected and learn from people already in the business world is something students today need to make their resumes stand out.
Life in Cleveland, Ohio
Weatherhead’s home of Cleveland, Ohio, is centrally located between New York City, Chicago, and Toronto and has been identified by US News as being the 84th best place to live in the U.S. Cleveland is home to the regional bank headquarters and a branch of the Federal Reserve, which gives local employment opportunities to students and alums interested in banking and financial services.
The city is also home to several Fortune 500 headquarters including Cardinal Health, Procter & Gamble, and Kroger. Coupled with the strong broadband infrastructure and amazing overall cost of living, the Cleveland market is poised for a comeback. It’s no surprise that the Weatherhead School has extraordinary relationships with many large conglomerates, who look to hire directly from the graduating class each year.
Andy Grible is a Senior Consultant in the Finance Department of Fedex Custom Critical. He also facilitates and mentors students at Case Western by matching them with a suitable department that they can work in for 12 weeks. In the past, seniors from Case Western have joined the project to evaluate the efficiency of FedEx Custom Critical Quality Assurance and Operations processes for the temperature-control services. They then made suggestions to improve the gaps in quality and efficiency while providing a cost-benefit analysis on the proposed changes.
Throughout the semester, the students created 16 concept maps, 14 logic diagrams, and seven Excel documents, before concluding their time with the Fedex Custom Critical team with a 90-minute presentation to team members, company stakeholders and employees.
“At Weatherhead, we are about innovation and entrepreneurship,” Hurley says. “Students are encouraged to challenge one another and explore the world. Our job is to bring out the best in them.”