From the moment a student steps onto the campus of Lehigh University’s College of Business, they’re taken care of. Coming in at No. 26 in this year’s rankings, Lehigh presents a great opportunity to earn a business degree at private research university. Back in fall 2019, Lehigh introduced a new core curriculum aimed at improving student’s ability to recognize and seize business opportunities, solve problems, and stretch their potentials in a digitally intense, global marketplace.
This year, the Class of 2021 had an average acceptance rate of 44.58%, relatively exclusive. The average SAT score was high as well, at 1404 for the Class of 2021. The school also shared that a solid 88% of students from the Class of 2021 had completed business-specific internships before graduation, and when it came to full-time employment, a good portion of the Class of 2021, 91.67% to be exact, landed full-time employment within 3 months of graduation. Companies that have consistently hired Lehigh graduates include the “Big Four” accounting firms, Citigroup, Vitech Systems Group, and IBM. Other top hirers of students from the Classes of 2017 and 2018 are General Electric, Accenture, Prudential, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“We’re seeing a lot of exciting new things here at Lehigh. The students who come here are students who like to do. They are not only engaged in academics but also applied activity like clubs and organizations,” Katrina Zalatan, Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs, says. “They are doers.”
All business students who join the four-year program at Lehigh can choose to do a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics, Integrated Business and Engineering, or Computer Science and Business. For those who choose Business and Economics, they can major in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Business Information Systems, Marketing, Management, and Supply Chain Management. The accounting major is further split into three tracks, Public Accounting Assurance and Tax Services, Financial Services and Corporate Accounting, and Information Technology.
FUNDAMENTALS FIRST AT LEHIGH
At Lehigh, all students begin their business education with an introduction to business course to learn the fundamentals of business, and a Professional Development Track, that introduces them to career strengths, self-assessment, and professional development planning. Students choose and attend a minimum number of information sessions, guest speaker series, and professional skill workshops to start their personalized path to internship and job-seeking readiness under the advisory of faculty.
“Students come to us wanting to make an impact and when they leave, they should have a clearer vision of where they fit in and can make an impact through their contributions in business. We seek to give them a clear understanding of success,” Zalatan said. “Our employers keep coming back to recruit on campus and continue to engage our students because they think highly of them. In return, our students become alumni and come back to participate in classes and mentor students in programs.”
MORE CRITICAL-SKILLS TRAINING
To do an even better job of preparing their students for the workforce, Lehigh’s new curriculum includes three new and required “critical-skill course sequences” that will start in the first year and be addressed more deeply in their junior year, just as students are diving into major coursework.
The first is the Analytics and Decision Making Sequence, where students are immersed in calculus, statistics, and a new business analytics course right from the start. These courses will serve as prerequisites for more functionally-oriented business core courses students take as sophomores. In this course, students will engage in hands-on programming, and learn basic concepts of data collection, organization, and exploration for the purpose of making a better business decision and building more efficient processes. Students will then take a more in-depth business analytics course in their junior year where they engage in hands-on data analysis, learn and practice techniques and algorithms for creating effective visualizations to support business decision making.
The second is the Business Communications Sequence, where students discuss critical issues affecting society today and are introduced to writing claims in respective conversations with others. They also practice delivering professional, clear, concise, evidence-driven persuasive communications including memos, reports, and presentations. In their junior year, students will build on the skills acquired to connect communication to data, learning to translate and analyze data, organize a narrative around data, and make persuasive recommendations.
“We’ve always had a strong focus on technical education and we’re teaching our students more about data analytics. However, students need to take that learning and communicate, sell an idea, create a narrative around that information, and make it impactful,” Zalatan said. “It’s the heart of why you have business communications and our new curriculum is designed to run alongside technical training.”
The third is a Leadership and Management Sequence, where students engage in group projects and co-curricular activities and practice leading with impact. First-year students study the principles of effective, ethical management at the individual, interpersonal, and group levels, and as juniors will look deeper at leadership styles, and increase their capacity for leadership by growing their self-awareness, social awareness, and organizational awareness.
STARTUP ACADEMY IN SAN FRANCISCO
In summer 2018, the Lehigh College of Business and the Lehigh@Nasdaq Center launched the Startup Academy. Twelve students were selected for the 10-week internship program, where they learned about the entrepreneurial process by immersing themselves in the innovation ecosystem in San Francisco. Students spent around 40 hours per week with the early to mid-stage startups, developing their entrepreneurial mindsets and skill sets, while engaging in a one-credit course with their Startup Academy peers. They were paired with a mentor in their professional area of interest to receive additional guidance and coaching.
“The program started last year and involves a big recruitment process. Lehigh also compensates the students and provide them with place to live while they are in our SF office,” Zalatan said. “Our first graduating class was this past summer and there’s been a lot of interest.”
KEEPING UP WITH INDUSTRY CHANGES
The accounting department at Lehigh has launched a unique new course called the Segal Accounting Distinguished Lecture Series, where students are introduced to current accounting issues from the perspective of distinguished thought leaders in the accounting profession. Open to all accounting majors, as well as freshman and sophomore students who are interested in a career in accounting, students can sign up to listen to notable leaders such as Rick Petrino, Executive Vice President, Corporate Controller, and Principal Accounting Officer of American Express Company, who is also a Lehigh alum.
In line with rapid changes happening in the finance industry, the school has introduced a new FinTech Minor as a collaboration between the Department of Finance and Business Information Systems. The minor is composed of four courses and will touch on topics including disruptive technologies such as cryptocurrency, business analytics, blockchain, mobile banking, cybersecurity, machine learning, and mobile trading as they are applied to the financial services sector.
In collaboration with the Department of Marketing and Business Information Systems, students can now also take a Business Analytics Certificate where they look at firms using data to make decisions. The 12 credit program includes work on computer programming, business intelligence, computer models, and data management.
To keep up with all the new courses and technological advancements in the world of business, Zalatan says that the College of Business is in the construction design phase of creating a new building to move into. The new facility is likely to be ready by Spring 2021, and with the move, they will also be renovating the current building.
“The new facility will include a new trading center, a dedicated communications skills lab, and more entrepreneurial and innovation space to match the new curriculum we’ve designed,” Zalatan said.
“Being able to simulate the process of starting a business and pitching to investors was pertinent to my education. It showed me that when starting a business, there are countless things you must account for and take into careful consideration. It changed the way I look at new products, business endeavors, or services.”
“We had a management capstone project that really brought together everything we had learned throughout our business curriculum. It involved a simulation where our grade was correlated to how well our ‘company’ performed in the market. This simulation also involved team projects that genuinely prepared me for working with a diverse group of people, as each student in the group had a different business major and was able to offer valuable insight to help our ‘company’ perform its best.”
“I did a study abroad summer program in Prague, Czech Republic where I had an internship at Deloitte in Prague and got to work with other students there as well. It helped me gain an international perspective of business because we had to bring our experience as Americans to help recommend ideas/strategies for companies in Prague as well as act as test subjects to provide insight as to how native English speakers interact with their websites. It was all around such an incredible experience to be able to work in business in another country, and an opportunity I would not have had if I weren’t in Lehigh’s Business program.”
“As part of the IBE (Integrated Business and Engineering) program at Lehigh, I participated in the IBE Capstone project. This is a year-long project where students get to work hands-on with a local startup, entrepreneur or company that needs help developing their business plan, finding their niche market, or really anything else in the business strategy or product development space. My experience was extremely positive; my team of five students (from all different business and engineering majors) helped a local entrepreneur develop a business strategy to bring his application for creating music covers to life.”
“There was a market simulation where my team and I went through and combined all the aspects of business degrees, from accounting to advertising and supply chain. I loved not only learning how to apply these skills in a simulation of the real world, but watching how my teammates approached their challenges. We learned to rely on others because no one person could do all the work to run our virtual company.”
“My senior capstone project was working with a local healthcare provider organization.In the beginning of the project our team had very limited knowledge on the topic. However, after a year of intensive research and collaboration with industry leaders, we were able to present information that could help the company determine how to move forward with their new business venture. This directly transitioned into talking points during interviews and some of first projects as a consultant.”
Where The Class Of 2020 Went To Work:
EY LLP – 38
PwC – 25
KPMG LLP – 18
Citi – 10
Deloitte – 9
Vitech Systems Group – 5
Bank of America – 5
Charles River Development – 4
Susquehanna International Group, LLP (SIG) – 4
Link Logistics Real Estate – 4
Amazon – 4
Crowe – 4
Goldman Sachs – 4
JPMorgan – 4
Vanguard – 3
Bloomberg LP – 3
Ross Stores, Inc. – 3
W. L. Gore & Associates – 3
Lockheed Martin – 3