Between 2007 and 2015, multicultural student enrollment in the Kansas State University College of Business Administration increased by 75%. Those efforts have led to a multicultural student graduation rate boom that is 15% higher than the national average.
The school’s dedication to increasing diversity in the school isn’t just about race or nationality, but also about background. When Phil Major applied to Kansas State, he was married with a child and a disabled veteran. While he attended the College of Business Administration, he lived off-campus and didn’t participate in Greek life, but he says without hesitation: “Both the students and professors made me feel welcome and part of the K-State family.”
At the College of Business Administration, students can choose between accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, management, or management information systems as a major. After leaving the army, Major says he had dreams of owning his own business and went back to school to study human resources, business management, and entrepreneurship in 2004. But when he received an attractive job offer that didn’t need a degree, he dropped out. Then the market crashed in 2008.
In 2012, when it became clear to Major that he wouldn’t be allowed to advance in his job without a college degree, he was back on the school market. When Major landed at Kansas State’s College of Business, he was looking mostly in the direction of business management. Under the guidance of his professors, he began discovering the Management Information Systems field and falling in love with data analysis and big data. Today, Major is a senior business analyst with Advice Technologies, a company that provides global regulatory reporting software solutions and services to the investment management community.
Located in Manhattan, Kansas, Major says Kansas State’s home has a small town feeling and “the townies are friendly.” Because of it’s close proximity to the Fort Riley Army Base, a large proportion of the population did not grow up in the area and allowed him to meet people from all over the world.
FOCUSING ON THE BUILDING BLOCKS TO COLLEGE SUCCESS
Coming from all over the world, first-year students at Kansas State attend first-year seminars intended to help them make the transition to university courses and college-level learning. The classes are focused on communication, critical thinking, and community building and the learning environment is built around engagement, interaction, and application of concepts.
Among the classes available is a University Experience class where students learn about time management, study skills, and critical thinking strategies. The two credit course is where students learn about K-State policies, co-curricular activities, and are introduced to other freshmen with different insights, strategies, and techniques for success.
Another class the school offers is Introduction to K-State Culture, where students are guided through understanding the cultural and intellectual opportunities at the university. At the College of Business Administration, students can take the Business Foundations course during their first semester to learn the basics of business from finance to management.
While at Kansas State, Major says he took part in the Professional Advantage Certification training. The two-step, 15-hour program is only open to business students and guides students through interviews, creating professional resumes, networking, and personal branding. While students are highly encouraged to take the course, it is not required for graduation.
Through the work of the program, Major landed a full-time internship as a Business Analyst with Advice Technologies before his junior year. He went on to work for the company throughout college before being hired into a full-time position upon graduation and promoted to manage the business analysis department in Manhattan, Kansas.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the K-State College of Business Administration’s research and teaching environment, the school has several facilities and initiatives to help students grow in their chosen areas. Take for example, the school’s National Strategic Selling Institute, where students learn about the sales industry and work closely with actual businesses. The school currently boasts a 100% employment placement rate for students in the institute with many students receiving multiple job offers. Over the last four years, the program has helped Kansas State earn the recognition of being one of the Top Universities for Professional Sales Education by the Sales Education Foundation.
At the school’s Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, students who have chosen the entrepreneurship major are taught how to identify, research, and analyze potential markets that enhance value and profitability. Students in the Entrepreneurship Club and Entrepreneurial Consulting course also team up to help businesses in the community deal with challenges and come up with creative solutions under the supervision of faculty members.
After students have graduated, the entrepreneurship center continues to keep an eye on alumni. In partnership with the K-State Alumni Association and the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, the center selects an alumnus to be “Entrepreneur of the Year“ and “Manhattan Community Entrepreneur of the Year.” In 2016, Davy Hartman Campbell, who established the marketing company, Fulfillment Plus, in 1999 won the designation. He graduated with degrees in business administration and modern languages from K-State.
A PLETHORA OF GLOBAL STUDY OPTIONS
From Japan to Mexico, students at the College of Business know that an education within classroom walls isn’t enough anymore. That’s why the school recently launched the Certificate in International Business track that is open to all students at K-State. To earn this certification, students not only need to complete international courses in different business concentrations, they also need to undergo extensive foreign language study. To fulfill the international experience requirement, students can either participate in a study abroad or student exchange program, or work on an international internship worth three credit hours.
If students choose not to take an extra certification, the school is filled with opportunities to go abroad for some adventure while picking up global skills in your major. Students can apply to be part of one of the many faculty-led trips, which go to places like Spain, Italy, China, Germany, Ireland, and Taiwan. For graduate-level trips, the school will still consider undergraduate student applications.
In 2017, the International Marketing class at K-State took an eleven-day trip to Barcelona and Rome to learn about global marketing trends and styles in Europe. The guided experience was also intended to expose students to marketing mix strategies within the unique cultures that exist in Spain and Italy. While abroad, students connected with global marketing companies such as Desigual and Zara in Barcelona and Ford Italia in Rome. The team was led by Swinder Janda, professor of marketing at the College of Business Administration and The Robert M. Edgerley Chair in Global Business.
MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS ESTABLISHED FOR STUDENT SUCCESS
At the end of the day, a great resume may not necessarily get you the job you want without a great network. To address this common issue, Kansas State’s College of Business started the Executive Mentor Program in 2011 to paid students and young alumni with seasoned business professionals for career-related mentoring. Mentors provide mentees with valuable advice, serve as a sounding board, share significant experiences, and provide constructive feedback on how to get the job they want.
The program is housed within WildcatLink, a web-based mentoring and networking platform that creates a virtual space for everyone who has been through K-State to connect based on their interests and help topics. In order to ensure the quality of advice, an individual must have at least seven years of professional business experience and be willing to commit to monthly communication and support of their mentee, to become an executive mentor.
The school reports that they have mentors across the globe and while this may mean fewer in-person meetings, students at the business school may also apply for travel grants to make the trip to visit their long-distance Executive Mentor.