At the University of New Hampshire, Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, every first year student as to go through FIRE.
The school’s First Year Research and Innovation Experience (FIRE) program is aimed at helping students make the transition to college, which can be challenging for many. At the same time, it’s about building the foundations for their success over the next four years. That’s why students are put in teams of about 20 each, and work for an entire year on a challenge designed to help them identify the resources and skills they’ll need to construct a business plan.
“Fire gives students an opportunity to make friends outside their dorms, get involved in things, and start feeling that sense of community that isn’t just about business, but also about becoming a part of the Paul College community,” Neil Niman, Associate Dean of Academic Programs at Paul College, said. “We’re giving our students the skills and tools to be successful in order to get the opportunities they have always dreamed of securing.”
The University of New Hampshire is a public research university in Durham, New Hampshire, ad Paul College of Business students can choose to major in Accounting, Finance, Entrepreneurial Studies, International Business and Economics, Information Systems and Business Analytics, Management, and Marketing, while earning their degree in Business Administration. There is also a student designed option major that students can opt for. A degree in Hospitality Management is also available at Paul College.
The four-year program saw 3,807 students apply to join in Fall 2018, and 2,440 were accepted, giving them an acceptance rate of about 64 percent.
The average SAT scores for the 93 percent of incoming students who reported them was 1171, and the average ACT score for 14 percent of the incoming students who reported them was 25.
The school estimates that the four-year cost of attending including tuition and fees to be $75,368 for in-state students, and $132,388 for out-of-state students. Additional expenses for students in the Class of 2018 that cover food, lodging, transportation and supplies are expected to add another $58,924 to the price for in-state students, and $66,404 for an out-of-state student. About 77 percent of incoming Fall 2018 students received some form of scholarship support upon being accepted to the business school, and the average scholarship amount was $11,618.
FOURTH YEAR FOR THE FIRE PROGRAM
The FIRE program is one of the biggest and newest programs started at Paul College, and uses game mechanics such as leaderboards to motivate students to get involved in experiences right from the start. As students compete against other teams in a healthy way that is designed to encourage them to succeed and excel, Niman says that the school has been giving out more points each year as students are increasingly active and involved.
This is the fourth year the program has run, and Niman says they will be handing out 600,000 points to the freshman class this year. In case it isn’t clear how active Paul College students are exactly, no individual event at the school that they participate in can earn them more than 30 points.
To support the FIRE program, the university has even created a mobile app called LinkedUp, where students can find other students with similar interests and link up to grow their personal and professional networks.
“We are focused on using technology to encourage our students to connect face-to-face. It’s important to us that students get together and have shared experiences,” Niman said. “We want students to know that they don’t need to make up their mind about the rest of their lives on the first day, but there are things they need to start doing in their first year and over the next four years in order to be professionally successful.”
Over 70 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 told P&Q that they had been engaged in a “signature experience”, and 72 percent said they would recommend the program to a friend or colleague without hesitation.
Andy McAuliffe, Class of 2016, shared that he worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to build a campaign spreading awareness of clean and healthy products that were allergy sensitive and environmentally friendly as part of his marketing capstone. “We went onsite to the EPA and worked with them to build the campaign, implement it and present it at the end of senior year,” McAuliffe, who now works as an account sales manager at Oracle Corporation, said.
While working on his degree, McAuliffe said he also received credit for 2 internships where he worked 20 hours each week at a tech company, and wrote a 20-page thesis on how applied his classroom learning to the work he did on his internship.
Other alumnus shared that they had worked on projects with businesses such as Airbnb and Key Automotive Group.
BUSINESS IN PRACTICE PROGRAM COULD BE ‘FUTURE OF BUSINESS EDUCATION’
At Paul College, engaging the community in experiential learning is taken so seriously that qualified community members are invited to come teach. Their Business in Practice program is something Niman calls “the future of business education.”
“We have opened up a small portion of our curriculum to the business community, and are engaging corporate partners to ask them what they want to see in our graduates. When they tell us what they need, we ask them if they would like to contribute a project or data that our students can work on, or if they would like to help design a 2-credit curriculum that would help students gain the skills or knowledge they are looking for,” Niman said. “Sometimes, we ask if they have someone who can teach the course.”
Recent Business in Practice program courses include a course that was started after one of the biggest employers of Paul College graduates gave feedback that it would be great to see students with experience in Agile Project Management. The course ended being taught by someone from the company who was both skilled and passionate about it, and passed both on to the students.
In another case, an alumnus of the university who had worked as the Chief Innovation Officer of Timberland, started their own company, and worked with Under Armour, helped the school forge a relationship with the sports brand Asics. Together, a course on designing a shoe and taking it from design to manufacturing and distribution, marketing and sales, was set up in Paul College.
The program is aimed at providing a formal structure for experiential learning in core competency areas, and to more actively engage business partners in the students’ education. Students are required to take one course in each of the four competency areas: Social Intelligence, Analytical Intelligence, Competitive Intelligence, and Professional Intelligence.
Come next fall, Niman says the school will be opening their own student digital marketing agency, a product of the Business in Practice program. A conversation with Hubspot led to the idea of forming the student agency led by the Chair of the Marketing department, where the students will work with small businesses who are just starting out on the growth path but not ready for the services of a full-fledged professional agency. The agency is an attempt at meeting the industry demand for business school marketing graduates who are experienced with current technology and have real client experience, while being agile enough to handle landscape changes.
TOP STUDENTS SECURING FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT BEFORE BEGINNING SENIOR YEARS
Paul School has recently taken on a “Get Real World Ready” through student-centered programs focus, and the Business in Practice is but one of the programs intended to support this aim.
“Employers today want graduates with real experiences to hit the ground running from day one,” Niman said. “Book learning is one thing, taking that learning to practice for practical problems and using tools to support current businesses makes all the difference.”
The school’s Rutman/ Och Advancing Women’s Leadership initiative was created to educate high-performing young leaders who are committed to advancing women’s leadership in business and economics. Their goal is to graduate more students who value gender diversity and have the aspiration, knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to pursue successful and meaningful careers, ascend into leadership roles in their organizations, and promote women’s leadership in their workplaces.
The Rines Angel Fund at Paul College was founded in 2015 to provide a bridge between the next generation of angel investors and the New England private equity community. And through this fund, high-achieving students can practice constructing due diligence reports for angel investors who are considering making investments in startups.
As part of their efforts to help students get ready for the real world, the Paul College Honors Program was also recently redesigned to include three courses and an honors thesis. The courses are designed to offer the students rich learning experiences that include a team-based project developed in partnership with the Small Business Development Center where they apply their skills and knowledge to a real business problem.
And in addition to other curriculum changes, the school has also introduced a Leadership Minor that is designed to help students develop their leadership identity and skills such as effective communicating, and inspiring and developing people. Students will attend the university’s Leadership Camp in January, or the Paul Leadership Camp that takes place during Spring break.
To encourage students to take on internships, the Internship Opportunity Fund was set up, seed funded by the Dean’s Advisory Board. It provides a $2,500 stipend to students who secure internships in expensive metropolitan areas and at non-profits, social enterprises, or startups that may not be able to provide financial support.
The school shared that 48 percent of the graduating class of 2018 participated in a consulting project with an external organization. And in both the Class of 2017 and 2018, about 85 percent of students completed business-specific internships before graduation.
“We are seeing more of our top students secure jobs before their senior year starts. The aim is to place them in great internships during their junior year summers so they come back with a job offer,” Niman said. “We encourage our students to do multiple internships because the first one is not always the right one. But we believe we have been successful if our students don’t need to look for a job because they’ve been placed in an internship where they like the company and the company likes them.”
About 79 percent of graduates from both the class of 2017 and 2018 found full-time employment soon after graduation, with their list of top employers including Liberty Mutual Insurance, Ernst & Young, Fidelity Investments, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Marriott International, New York Life Insurance Company, Wayfair, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
The average salary of students with full-time jobs from the Class of 2017 was $48,420, while the same for students from the Class of 2018 was $50,420. Graduates from the Class of 2017 received average signing bonuses of $4,180, while those from the Class of 2018 received an average signing bonus of $4,589.
Paul College has an undergraduate business alumni network with almost 20,000 individuals, and in addition to the business-specific career office, and dedicated business school career advisors, a student at the college is unlikely to find themselves without resources to guide them on where to go next.
Located about an hour and 15 minutes north of Boston, with an Amtrak train station right in the center of campus, students at Paul College can hop on a train and walk into an office in downtown Boston for an internship easily.
For the outdoor-lover, the Atlantic ocean is just 12 miles away and the mountains are an hour south, while for the urban-dweller, New Hampshire has consistently been rated among the safest cities to live in with great nightlife in the area.
And as an up-and-rising professional business school, on top of the new group of young faculty who are actively publishing in top journals that’s been brought it, it seems the team at Paul College are doing a great job making both high school guidance counselors and potential employers sit up and notice the fiery graduates they’re producing.
What Alumni Say:
“I had a Marketing Capstone where we worked with the EPA to help build a campaign to spread awareness of healthy and clean products that were allergy sensitive and environmentally friendly. We went onsite to the EPA and worked with them to build the campaign, implement it and present it at the end of senior year. I also was credited for 2 internships, working 20 hours a week at a SaaS tech company and wrote a 20 page thesis on how my current learning in the classroom at the time applied to the internship and the different skills I learned in the corporate world that I would apply in my future career.” – Class of 2016 alum
“I wrote my senior capstone on AirBnB. Through the project, I learned everything about AirBnb from their culture to whether or not the pre-IPO company was over/undervalued depending on their product offerings and market strategy. It was the first full-company analysis that I ever performed, and it was a tremendous learning experience.” – Class of 2016 alum
“As part of the UNH University Honors Program, and Honors in Major Program, I completed a senior thesis. For several semesters leading up to the project, I was able to have meaningful conversations with professors outside of class, which helped me narrow down the topics I was interested in. During my senior year, I worked closely with my thesis advisor to conduct academic research on my topic. In the spring I presented at the school’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), and handed in a final report to my advisor. Although presenting at the URC and turning a final report felt like great accomplishments, the most valuable part of the experience were all the conversations I had with various professors leading up to my senior year. I still think back to those meetings and find myself interested in the topics we discussed. I can see myself drawing on those conversations in the future as I look to make my next career moves.” – Class of 2016 alum
Where The Class of 2018 Went To Work:
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Ernst & Young
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts,
Enterprise Rent a Car