Students at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota know that when they choose Carlson, they’ll be benefiting from its amazing location in Saint Paul, Minnesota, usually in part because Raj Singh, Associate Dean of the school, is filled with passion as he shares a million ways in which Carlson is amazing.
“Whenever I give a speech to prospective freshmen, I tell them about this,” Singh said. “In a town of about two million, we have 19 Fortune 500 companies and everything from medical device companies to startups. On a per person basis, we have the most Fortune 500 companies waiting to hire our students, and we’re the only player in town! All of them want to work with us and mentor our students, and our alumni network is growing right next to us.”
The school’s curriculum, experiential learning, internship and job opportunities, and networking possibilities are positively influenced by the connections they have with the business community in the metro area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where there’s a growing list of Fortune 500 companies that include UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy, 3M, U.S. Bancorp, and General Mills. Choosing Carlson is more than just choosing a business education, it’s like choosing a career placement.
With these relationships, Carlson students get opportunities outside the classroom, such as consulting projects, in-action class projects, a rich lineup of corporate executives for our student clubs, and innumerable mentoring opportunities that are just a five-minute train ride away.
In a survey of the Carlson undergraduate Class of 2016, about 95 percent of alumni said their first job after graduating was in their desired job function, and about 90 percent of them said their first job was even at their desired company. Naturally, almost 90 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said they would recommend the business program to a close friend or colleague.
“Our graduates are hardworking people with a positive attitude and no sense of entitlement,” Singh said. “They will always put the “we” of community before “I”, always ask why before talking about how, and always understand work comes before reward.”
The four-year undergraduate business program at Carlson School of Management is a popular program. It received 8,282 applications in Fall 2018, and 2,466 were admitted. The school has a 28.4 percent acceptance rate for direct applicants, and 21.7 acceptance for transfer students. Students in the incoming Fall 2018 class had an average SAT score of 1371, and an average ACT score of 29.4, with an average high school GPA of 3.97.
The school estimates that the total four-year cost of attending covering tuition and fees to be $63,904 for an in-state student, and $101,192 for an out-of-state student. Additional fees for food, lodging, transportation, and supplies are expected to add another $48,596 for in-state students and $53,096 for out-of-state students. About 56 percent of incoming Fall 2018 students received some form of scholarship support averaging $8,081.
At Carlson, students’ education begins with a two-day orientation, which includes an overnight experience, during which they meet with advisors to discuss scheduling and other concerns.
In the third week of their time at the school, they have the option of going on a Freshmen Weekend Retreat. Singh says that he and his team found out that mental health was a concern among the students and faculty due to the high-stress nature of being in the world of business. Anxiety, depression, and concern about suicide seemed to stem from feeling alone even while being part of a community, and the school decided to something about it.
In a free pilot program sponsored by corporate partners that the school has just started, students get into canoes with their new friends one weekend, and canoe down the Mississippi River for about three hours before putting up tents for the night. The next day, they return to the river and canoe for another four to six hours, before stopping again to set up their tents to camp for the night. At the end of it, the students take a coach back to school and return to their classes for the week, hopefully with a new understanding that though their classmates are different, they are in the same boat.
“There’s no education, no pontification, just bonding time,” Singh said. “They get together and talk about their hometowns, things they miss, and their hopes, and new friendships and a community is built. We hope this means the next time they are in the same classroom, they’ll know where the person is coming from despite the different speech and values.”
The retreat is paired with an embedded mental health counselor in the business school’s advising space, where students can easily make appointments for support, and faculty recognizing the face of crisis in students can quickly get them help.
The proactiveness of the leaders at Carlson in caring for their students also jumped into action when the team realized that because assignments were often due at midnight, students were often working till then, and then gathering to celebrate with friends afterward. Today, Carlson faculty have been recommended to hand out assignments with evening deadlines instead.
“We have to take care of our students,” Singh said.
TWIN CITIES LOCATION IDEAL FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
Students at Carlson School of Management can choose to major in Accounting, Entrepreneurial Management, Finance, Finance & Risk Management, Human Resources & Industrial Relations, International Business, Marketing, Management Information Systems, Public & Nonprofit Management, and Supply Chain Management.
The school has also begun offering new minors in Business Law and Business Analytics in the past three years, and are proposing another in Management Strategy.
Making use of their amazing location, the school hosts two career fairs annually, where students are engaged in over 2500 interviews, a growing mentor network, and a strong alumni base. Mark Sorenson-Wagner, Director of Undergraduate Business Career Center at Carlson says they have been able to place 96-98% of their students for the past five years across all business sectors. “Our goal is to utilize our great partnerships and showcase industries that can provide our students with fulfilling careers and stepping stones to achieve their professional goals,” Sorenson-Wagner wrote.
CARLSON HAS SOME OF THE HIGHEST RATES OF ‘SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES’ AND ‘INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES’
Experiential learning touches almost every aspect of life at Carlson, whether one chooses to study accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, supply chain, consulting, marketing, new venture financing, or nonprofit management.
Over 77 percent of alums from the Class of 2016 said they were engaged in a “signature experience”, from creating an “end-to-end marketing plan for Tesla” as a capstone marketing project to going out into the community and partnering with local companies and corporations to learn about supply chain optimization.
An alum who now works as a product manager at Boston Scientific said that she was part of Carlson Brand Enterprise, a 15-week consulting experience where they worked on a brand and marketing challenge for a dedicated Fortune 500 client in the Twin Cities area, and later presented their recommendations to the senior leadership of the company.
“As an undergrad, it is a great experience to not only have an in-depth consulting experience that challenges your business skills, but also forces you to learn client management skills,” she said. “The Carlson Brand Enterprise is fundamentally one of the most unique undergraduate business experiences in the country. I attended Ross for my MBA (which is known for amazing experiential learning opportunities), but the Carlson Brand Enterprise at the University of Minnesota was fundamentally the most impactful, trajectory-changing experience of my entire business education.”
On top of the numerous opportunities for students to learn-by-doing, one of the biggest differentiators of the programs that they’ve had for over a decade now is that every single graduate at Carlson has international experience. From two-week short -term programs to about 40 exchange programs in partner business schools around the world, there’s not a shortage of choices. The university’s Learning Abroad Center allows students to explore beyond business if they choose, but the Carlson message is clear: Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.
Singh says that giving students a global experience not only helps open their mind to taking up job opportunities outside the country but also beginning to understand that no one person has all the answers.
“When we spend time with people we grew up with, it’s hard to imagine how different others can be, then it’s different for them to walk in their shoes when they need to,” Singh said. “The worldview that everyone has to be the same changes, and that’s hard to get in a classroom.”
In the past years, the school has held behavioral finance classes that met in the US for five weeks before moving to London for two weeks, where students met professionals from all major investment banks. Students in entrepreneurship classes have completed five weeks of lessons locally, before moving to Cuba for two weeks to learn about how entrepreneurs work under the tightly controlled and monitored environment.
About 45 percent of students choose a traditional study-abroad semester, while others choose alternatives such as the shorter trips, or internships abroad, Singh said. Students returning from abroad have shared the eye-opening experience of seeing Spanish cities quiet in the afternoon as people take their siestas, question how the workforce could possibly be productive, and discover how different cultures with different habits make things work.
And regardless of what problems the student runs into, the school is there to help. Students without a passport can get help getting a passport. Students with financial difficulties can get financial help. And when the school finds among their family an undocumented student who cannot travel without the risk of not being allowed to return, they take care of them as well.
The school has arrangements with local organizations serving foreign populations, such as refugee centers that work with individuals from Cambodia and Somalia. Students who cannot travel can gain their global perspective by completing service projects there, immersing themselves in another culture in the process. After two weeks of working with a 100 percent Somali community, Singh says students begin to see how their mothers treat daughters, how religion affects community, and come back with a different understanding of what the world is.
MORE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Other hands-on learning opportunities at the school include Enterprise programs, where a select group of undergrads gets to work with students in the Masters program. Local corporations offer the students projects to work on and the school charges them between $25,000 and $50,000 for the work.
An example of the project the teams worked on involved tracking traffic in the Mall of America by following customers who were using the mall’s free WiFi. By tracking how many people used each corridor, the mall then used the traffic data to adjust leasing prices for shop spaces located along each corridor, increasing the rent for those along busy corridors, and reducing it for those along quieter ones.
Another project involved working with data from the local emergency room over the past 40 years to analyze the type of patients that showed up at each hour of the day, and kinds of services they needed. The information was used to improve staffing and availability to better meet the needs of their patients.
The school is considering beginning a similar hands-on project course for undergraduates next year.
MORE THAN TWO DOZEN BUSINESS-SPECIFIC ORGANIZATIONS
Outside of the classroom, but still on campus, students at Carlson can choose from 30 business-specific student organizations to participate in. Finance students can join U-finance, an organization that provides free financial assistance to other University student organizations whether they need tax help, a new system created or an existing one maintainer or financial management training for their leaders. Those who want specific tax practice can join the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program to help provide free tax assistance to low and moderate-income individuals in the community.
The undergraduate Women in Business student organization connects students with inspirational female leaders through their speaker meetings that are held twice a month, and signature networking events that are held twice a year. In partnership with business including Accenture, KPMG, Travelers, General Mills, Ernst & Young Deloitte, Ecolab, and many other companies, the group works to improve diversity, and representation of minority groups and women, whether it’s in management information systems, supply chain, or finance.
“To me, it’s very simple. Half the world is made up of women, and we if don’t make it easier for them to come to the table, we are missing out on a big talent pool,” Singh said. “With that, we lose creativity and brilliance, and it’s very clear especially in academics when we don’t encourage women to become faculty members.”
The other thing, Singh said, is that having more diverse representation helps businesses do better when customers walk into a bank, seeing a loan officer they can identify within an investment bank helps them feel part of a culture and place, he added.
STRONG JOBS CONTINUE FOR CARLSON
The school shared that about 84 percent of students in the Class of 2017 had a business-specific internship before graduation, and with the Class of 2018, this number rose to 93 percent. When it came to full-time employment, almost 99 percent of students in the Class of 2017 found full-time jobs within a couple of months of graduation, and with the Class of 2018, the number declined slightly to around 97%.
The average salary for business majors with full-time employment from the Class of 2017 was $56,616, and an average signing bonus of $5,823, and with the Class of 2018, the average salary rose to $56,989, while the average signing bonus fell slightly to $5,783.
All in all, over 80 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said they believed that their business degree would help them climb to a new socioeconomic status.
“Our dean always says that business has to be a force for good, and we believe that curiosity leads to creativity and great ideas,” Singh said. “We’ve made a choice that if there are values we want to inculcate, we will lose some students, but that’s ok. When the landscape changes, our students will be able to choose new directions and lead the change.”
What Alumni Say:
“I was in the honors program at the university, and in the business school, we were given mentorship/instruction by a research faculty member in writing a senior thesis–inclusive of independent original research and an academic paper. After being involved in other honors-specific classes in the business school beforehand, I was a part of a cohort of students who collaborated together on our individual projects. At most top-tier business schools, it’s not usual to get to spend quality time with tenured/tenure-track research faculty, and we had the opportunity to get their regular feedback and instruction and finish our degrees with a paper adding real insight to relevant topics like consumer behavior, finance, entrepreneurship trends, etc. Some students even pursued getting their work published, as well.” – Recent Alumni
“I studied international business (including Japanese business culture, cross-cultural negotiations, among others) in Tokyo, Japan for six months through Carlson. Also took part in a year-long, credit-bearing experiential learning program that exposed me to real consulting projects with corporate clients for semester-long periods – an incredible experience, exposure to executives, expanded network, etc.” – Recent Alumni
“The Carlson Brand Enterprise is a 15-week consulting experience, working between 25-40 hours. We worked on a brand/marketing challenge for a dedicated Fortune 500 client in the Twin Cities area, eventually presenting our recommendations to senior leadership at the company. As an undergrad, it is a great experience to not only have an in-depth consulting experience that challenges your business skills but also forces you to learn client management skills. The Carlson Brand Enterprise is fundamentally one of the most unique undergraduate business experiences in the country. I attended Ross for my MBA (which is known for amazing experiential learning opportunities), but the Carlson Brand Enterprise at the University of Minnesota was fundamentally the most impactful, trajectory-changing experience of my entire business education.” – Recent Alumni
Where The Class of 2018 Went To Work:
UnitedHealth Group – 29
EY – 22
PwC – 20
KPMG – 17
General Mills – 16
Deloitte – 14
U.S. Bank – 12
3M – 11
Wells Fargo – 10
Land O’Lakes – 9