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Nestled on the University of Virginia’s picturesque campus inside small-town Charlottesville, Virginia is the highly ranked McIntire School of Commerce undergraduate business program. The school is known for its broad-based education that focuses on nothing but liberal arts in the first two years followed the business school’s two-year curriculum which students embark on in their junior year year.
A SCHOOL THAT EXCELS IN JOB PLACEMENTS
However, B-school hopefuls should know this school also maintains a stark reputation for something else: job placements. In our inaugural ranking of undergraduate business programs last year, McIntire was among the top five schools for employment outcomes, placing the school among the likes of Wharton, Stern, Carnegie Mellon, and Georgetown. The proof is in the numbers. For the classes of 2016 and 2017, an impressive 90% or more of seniors had accepted a full-time position three months before walking down the aisle to receive their McIntire Bachelor of Science in Commerce degrees. It doesn’t stop there. McIntire graduates also seem to get jobs they actually want. Out of about 100 alumni we surveyed this year, 96% of them said their first position after graduation was in their desired industry and 87% said their first job was at their desired company.
The companies that appear to favor McIntire graduates most are found in either accounting, consulting, or banking industries. In the past two years, top employers repeatedly hiring UVA undergrads were the Big Four accounting firms, Accenture, and Capital One.
The salary scale is another area UVA undergrads fare significantly well. The average overall salary for the most recent graduating class was $72,297 and graduates saw an average signing bonus of $9,261.
THE DIFFERENTIATOR: AN INTEGRATED CURRICULUM KNOWN AS ‘ICE’
A major differentiator of the undergraduate business program, the school says, is the degree that the curriculum integrates functional areas such as accounting, IT, finance, management, and marketing with supporting areas such as global business, communication, analytics, and quantitative analysis. This is exhibited in the undergraduate core curriculum known as ICE, Integrated Core Experience.
Gone are the days when schools would offer core courses in functional areas independent of one another. ICE engages students in an interdependent series of courses that the school says provides cutting-edge benefits rarely found at the undergraduate level. Rather than offering traditional, independent core courses, the faculty engages students in a coherent, integrated series of sessions focusing on business theory and practice. ICE blocks — cohorts of 40-45 students — learn by working in small teams, as well as with a team of seven faculty and corporate leaders, to solve real-world business problems. It involves 12 credit hours in the Fall semester of students’ junior year and nine in the Spring.
Students can’t stop talking about it and speak highly of the impact it’s had on their careers. The key reason, being able to serve actual well-known companies in a consulting role whilst still getting their undergraduate education.
“It is unheard of for undergraduate business students to be consulting for companies like Major League Baseball and Hilton,” one alum told Poets&Quants. “They present to company executives at the end of the semester and it is more work than I have had to do at any point in my career thus far – in the best way possible. It could not have prepared be better to take a wholesome perspective at any project I am given.”
Mary Langan, another graduate and champion of the ICE curriculum agreed. “The coupling of case-based courses with real-life strategic projects for Rolls Royce taught me more in one semester than I had learned in my previous two years. Unlike my past courses, ICE placed an emphasis on truly original ideas and creative thinking. The high standard our professors held us to helped me to become confident in expressing and supporting my ideas and opinions, which has helped me a great deal in my career.”
UPPING THE ANTE ON BUSINESS ANALYTICS OFFERINGS
It is in their fourth year, after completing ICE, that students choose one of McIntire’s five concentration options: Accounting, Finance, Information Technology, Management, or Marketing. They can also add on up to two tracks which are areas of specialty that span across different disciplines. Each track is worth 12 credit hours of their own, distinct coursework and set of requirements for students to fulfill. Track options include Advertising and Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, Global Commerce, Quantitative Finance, Real Estate — and most recently introduced — Business Analytics.
“We significantly enhanced our focus on the business analytics throughout our curriculum and through the creation of a Business Analytics Track that takes an interdisciplinary approach to BA,” the school reported in this year’s ranking survey.
Other recent updates include the introduction of new course offerings focused on timely topics such as big data, cloud computing, machine learning, and digital innovation.
STUDY ABROAD FOR ONE WEEK OR AN ENTIRE SEMESTER
If they’re not raving about their experience with ICE, the second most frequent component of the McIntire experience that alumni can’t stop praising is participation in global study.
“We offer a tremendous portfolio of study abroad options ranging from one week to a full-semester. In addition, we integrate a global approach to business throughout our curriculum,” the school reported in this year’s ranking survey.
“All McIntire concentrations offer our Global Commerce Immersion (GCI) courses, including program formats to include project-based (consulting) courses, industry-specific courses, broad ‘Doing business in [region]’ survey courses, and an “around-the-world” course. Over the four years from 2013 to 2017, we grew both the number of global courses offered and the number of students enrolled in GCI courses by 50%.”
One alum said the second key experience at McIntire — following ICE — was a global immersion course. “Specifically, we focused on doing business in Brazil. The class culminated in a week-long trip to Brazil. While there, our class met with roughly 10 companies across several industries. Through the completion of the course I gained a much deeper understanding of the complexity of bringing products into other nations, as well as the lengths to which governments go to protect their domestic products and businesses.”
By graduation, 30% of McIntire’s seniors have had a global experience — described as at least four weeks of international study or at least three credits in an international setting.
GETTING INTO McINTIRE
Because McIntire is a two-year program, incoming freshmen must first apply and matriculate through UVA’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Afterward, they apply to the business school which looks at students’ academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and personal traits such as leadership, appreciation of diversity and inclusion, and self-awareness. Direct entry into the business program for first-year students is not available.
This year, the college said yes to 66% of its 508 applicants and enrolled 329 students. Collectively, this Class of 2019 holds a cumulative grade point average of 3.68.
For an in-depth interview with McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml, go here.
WHAT ALUMNI SAY:
“Group project work was instrumental in shaping how I interact with those around me and collaborate with others.” – Class of 2015 alum
“I went on a study abroad trip to India and earned credit towards my Marketing degree. I also did a semester long project sponsored by Major League Baseball.” – Class of 2015 alum
“Mcintire’s ICE program not only provided me with strong business foundations, but also gave me an opportunity to work with a major engineering corporation (And other companies such as a luxury retailer) to develop a new market penetration strategy. This gave me an early and realistic look at client work: managing teamwork, managing team v client expectations, communicating effectively to c-suite, etc. I think these ‘soft skills’ particularly helped me make a better and more professional first impression at not only interviews, but also my first job.” – Class of 2015 alum
“I studied abroad twice through the business school. The first was in Singapore and Hong Kong where we met with leading companies and focused on each country’s financial market (for example, we went to each stock exchange and met with the leaders of the exchange) and how it plays in the international market.The second trip was throughout mainland China and Hong Kong and we met with large multinational brands (Coke, Disney, etc) to understand how large multinational companies compete within China and how Chinese companies compete on the world stage.” – Class of 2015 alum
WHERE THE CLASS OF 2017 WENT TO WORK:
Deloitte – 16
Accenture – 15
EY – 13
PricewaterhouseCoopers – 12
Capital One – 10
KPMG – 8
Wells Fargo – 8
Bain & Co. – 7
Houlihan Lokey – 7
JPMorgan Chase – 7