December 6th, 2013 - No Comments
Elections were held last evening, and we are excited to welcome our new MBA Association Board.
President: Jason Miller
Vice President of Academic Affairs: Peter Greensmith
Vice President of Marketing/Communications: Brenda Cannizzaro
Vice President of Operations: Scott Robbins
Vice President of Corporate Relations: Edward Looper
Vice President of Finance: Apurv Vachhani
Vice President of International Affairs: Arun Singh
Vice President of Philanthropy: Elizabeth Guiley
Vice President of Recruitment: Ravindar Bose
We would like to share our gratitude with the out-going board members for all of their hard work and commitment in the past year! Thank you Matt, Dave, Mike, Moy, Josh, Ipsa, Bibs, Mallory and Nate!
November 15th, 2013 - No Comments
Today we welcome guest blogger, Tiffani Guerre. Tiffani is a 1st year MBA student with a Graduate Assistantship in the Diversity Enhancement Programs Office at the Penn State Smeal College of Business.
Diversity MBA Students give back to Diverse Undergrads
By Tiffani Guerre
In the diversity office, diverse MBA students are working to support diverse undergrads excel in their future careers. With a record high of 12 Diversity GA’s (Graduate Assistants) this school year, our efforts are being put to use.
With roles such as liaisons for undergraduate diversity enhancement organizations, teaching assistants, tutors, and mentors, we have a full plate. We work with organizations such as National Association for Black Accountants (NABA), Multicultural Women’s Forum (MWF), and ASCEND to name a few, to put on events that will help undergraduate students learn skills or obtain information about companies. One event in particular, hosted by NABA and MWF, was the Dress for Success Fashion show sponsored by Macy’s. This event educated students on the appropriate attire for career fairs, interviews, and business casual events in a fun and interactive way. We help with events like this to set students up on the right track at Smeal.
As well as helping behind the scenes, there are opportunities for us to step out in front of the audience and share our experiences for interested undergrads. The Multicultural Women’s Forum and Women in Business got together to host their annual Global Exchange with panels from Russia, Peru, Liberia, and Gambia! It was filled with a lot of cultural experiences whether it be music, food, and stories! Our very own Jenny Montague and Eric Clarke served on the panel and shared their experiences about their home countries. (Picture below)
In addition to supervising organizations, each GA offers their time to help students in other ways. One way we offer our help is tutoring students in undergraduate business courses. Students have come to us for tutoring in courses such as Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Accounting, etc. and we are able to lend our expertise. We also mentor students when it comes to career questions and guidance. Many undergrads come to us with questions about companies, industries they are looking to work in, and life after graduation. We are able to give our insights and advice as friends. The great thing is there is always someone there in the diversity office to support them until graduation.
November 8th, 2013 - No Comments
The Penn State Smeal MBA Program Office Team hosted a “fall craft night” for Housing Transitions on Monday night. Housing Transitions is a Centre County non-profit which can assist with different housing needs for those facing crisis or hardship. A great time was had by the children in the community and our volunteers. We are looking forward to doing it again next year!
October 27th, 2013 - No Comments
Sometime over the course of your education or career you may have heard someone say, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question!”. Generally, that’s true. GENERALLY. It’s good to be inquisitive, and it can take a lot of courage to ask a question about a topic you may not know anything about. People are experts in different things, and part of life is learning from each other and the world around us. However, that being said, there are questions that are asked during an interview that—while not “stupid questions”—are probably not the best use of your time with the interviewer.
By the time you have been invited to an admissions interview, you should have already done significant research on the program you are applying to—why else would you have applied? It is taken for granted that you already know where the program is located, roughly how big the class size is, what the tuition rates are and the basics about what that the school has to offer. Anything you can find with one click of a mouse or a 10 second Google search should not be how you use the precious moments your interviewer gives you to ask questions.
You SHOULD be prepared with some questions for the person interviewing you, as not only is the school deciding if they want to admit you, but you need to be deciding if YOU want to go to the school. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking something, ask questions that you can’t find the answers to anywhere else (like on a website or a discussion board).
Examples of questions you shouldn’t need to ask by the time you interview:
-Where is your school located exactly? (I’m not kidding—I’ve had this question! If you have no idea where we are, how do you know anything else about us?)
-How many people are in your incoming class? (I’ve never come across a school that doesn’t list this on their website—hopefully you know if you want to be in a class of 100 or 700 by the time you get to the interview phase)
-What’s your tuition? (Again, public information)
-What kind of concentrations/areas of study do you have? (This should be something you research LONG before you hit the submit button on your application)
Examples of GOOD questions to ask:
-What do you consider the strengths and challenges of the program/college/university? (Gives you a chance to delve deeper into what may or may not be public knowledge)
-What is it like to live in XXX town as a graduate student? (The admissions person likely also lives near the school and can give you first hand perspective on what living there is like!)
-I’m bringing a family, will they have a support system and be comfortable if I choose your school?
-Is anything missing from my application? (Good to double check!)
-Do you have recommendations for resources I can consult to learn more about your program? (Shows you really have interest in determining if a program is the BEST one for you!)
If you ask a question the interviewer CAN’T answer, ask them if they can connect you with someone who can answer it (they should offer up front before you even ask).
Depending on your situation, you may or may not have had most of your questions about a school answered by the time of the interview. Just remember, the interview is a golden opportunity to get even more information that’s hard to find by just reading a brochure or visiting a website or social media platform. Use that opportunity wisely!
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
October 11th, 2013 - No Comments
Today we welcome Erik Orient, Penn State Smeal MBA Student Services Director, as our guest blogger.
On the first Thursday of October, the United Way of Centre County hosts its annual “Day of Caring.” This year on Oct 3rd, hundreds of volunteers from across the community worked on improvement projects for qualifying non-profit organizations, community recreational facilities, and historical sites. To support the Smeal MBA Service Commitment, 12 MBA students participated in projects for the Centre County Historical Society and the Centre Region Parks & Recreation department.
In the morning, Class of 2014 students Sean Quinn and Josh Mathis volunteered at the Centre Furnace Mansion. In what they said was a welcomed respite from classes, Sean and Josh performed general landscaping duties of weeding, spreading mulch, and picking up debris. Sean managed to grab 20 seconds of fame when the Centre Daily Times film crew arrived. You can see his interview, and Josh working in the background, at the following link: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/10/03/3820566/united-way-day-of-caring.html
Ten students took time out of their afternoon to paint a restroom building at Holmes-Foster Park. For one student, Boakai Lalugba, painting was a brand new experience. Boakai did just fine, but others who had experience, should definitely consult Mike Brown and Emily Giacomini in MBA Career Services because it doesn’t appear that professional painting is in their futures. A Navy veteran, Joe Volansky, has plenty of time painting from being on ship. He gave the sage advice of paint it “once if it’s dust, twice if it’s rust.” When asked what to do about covering up moss, he simply said, “three times.”
The day was a great success for the United Way and the Smeal MBA students truly had a good time breaking away from their normal routine while giving back to the community. A special thanks to all the MBA students who volunteered throughout the day: Brenda Cannizzaro, Elizabeth Guiley, Boakai Lalugba, Andrew Fillmore, Scott Robbins, Dharell Mosby, Matt Harostock, Sean Quinn, Josh Mathis, Joe Volansky, and Alison Thompson. Keep watching for more Service Commitment updates when the MBA supports THON, Toys for Tots, and Centre County PAWS.
- Erik Orient, MBA Student Services Director
Tags: business school, Community, diversity, Ethics, experience, leadership, MBA, MBA application, MBA search, organization, Penn State, Penn State MBA, Principled Leadership, program, Smeal, Smeal MBA, transformation
October 7th, 2013 - No Comments
Today we welcome guest blogger Arvind Dutta, MBA ’13
“First we shape our buildings, then they shape us” – Winston Churchill
Ancient oriental arts, such as Feng Shui and Vaastu have guided architects to design spaces for positive health and wellbeing since ages. Physical environments around us have an impact on the way we feel and respond. Spaces can further influence the way we think, behave and socialize which are critical elements of any culture. I believe that Smeal Business Building, which is the second largest building in Penn State has a significant impact on the Smeal’s culture. This 55,000 square feet of academic space has been my home for two years before graduating in April 2013. The building houses approximately 4,500 undergrads, 150 MBAs and about 75 PhDs. What really makes the building special is that the students can attend classes, get something to
eat from the café, pursue their job search activities, meet with faculty and friends, and organize formal/informal events all under one roof.
This is a poetic analysis based on my personal observations. It is certainly possible to do empirical studies to prove or negate my point, But, I leave that to researchers. I will restrict myself to MBA wing in level one for the sake of simplicity to explain the three stages of social spaces in the building and how each level reinforces Smeal’s culture.
Stage One: At Smeal, the team rooms are an important part of MBA experience. There are 14 breakout team rooms that can accommodate 4-5 students. Interestingly, most classes require teamwork. Typical teams include students from diverse backgrounds and cultures. For instance, my first semester team had two Americans, one Iranian, one Kiwi and an Indian (that’s me). These social engagements that happen during the team meetings form the building blocks of your life at Smeal. Honestly, sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s challenging, but at the end of it you start appreciating and respecting mutual differences. This forced cross-cultural and cross-functional cocktail beats at the heart of life at Smeal reinforcing one of the most important values: Cultural Tolerance and Cross-Functional learning.
Stage Two: The Second level of engagement happens in the 6 MBA class rooms and the common areas (MBA Commons). The class rooms are designed for 35 and 60 students. This leads to smaller sections and classes. The students from each section form unspoken relationships with their colleagues. When you see faces at the same place and at the same time for good 2-3 months, chemistry is bound to happen. Have you wondered why no one ever steals your seat although it is not illegal to do so? That’s the unspoken relationship that I am talking about. You know who is always prepared, who is fighting for air-time and who is always sleeping in the class. The class rooms are designed like amphitheaters which are designed to give authority to the professor. It clearly demarcates the audience from the professor. Now, compare this with the rectangular seating arrangements. Which arrangement is better for interaction between teacher and students? Has this arrangement contributed to having better participation grades for students? Imagine if the class rooms were circular, would it facilitate more interaction?
MBA Commons is an open waiting area which connects classrooms with the team rooms. This is the place where celebrations happen. This is the place where young single hearts flutter. This is the place where rumor mills flourish. This is the place where small talks lead to long conversations on variety of topics. Finally this also the place where students vent out their emotions in a rigorous program that could be stressful at times and very rewarding most of the times. It is fascinating how a couple of couches placed in a grid can create so much energy. Now, imagine if these couches were placed in a circle. How would the dynamics change?
Stage Three: MBA Commons opens out into the Atrium. Atrium facilitates the third level of social interaction with the larger Smeal community, undergrads, PHds and faculty members. Atrium ceiling goes all the way up to the 4th floor which creates a feeling of grandeur and offers a sense of pride. Human mind associates high ceilings with freedom, pride and abstract thinking. All the four floors have visual access into this multipurpose space used for informal gatherings, cultural celebrations and career fairs by simply reconfiguring the furniture layout. This place can accommodate almost 800 people and visually opens out into the vast mountains through the magnificent glazing that brings in light and warmth.
There are several symbols in an around the Atrium that communicate strong meta-messages. First, the stock-ticker kiosk right in the middle of atrium is a symbol of business at work. Second, the donor walls referred to as: Bricks and Sticks” and “Forever Wall” which highlight the names of alumni contributors symbolize community bonding. The building was financed by 8000 donations totaling 29 million dollars. Next, the law school looking right at us through the magnificent glazing in the atrium symbolically reminds us of the need for ethical transparency in today’s business world. No wonder, the Smeal honor code is something that is integral value of every student here. Finally, the bronze sculpture by artist Glenna Goodacre symbolizes professionalism standing tall in the courtyard. The piece, named “The CEO”, is a portrayal of artist’s daughter.
This hierarchy of spaces at three stages creates interesting flowing spaces with strong symbols that bring the Smeal community together and create behavior patterns that play a significant role in creating the Smeal’s culture. After all, free exchange of ideas between disciplines, a sense of community and mutual accountability (ethical transparency) are values that are very critical in solving future business problems.
Three Stages of Social Interaction at Smeal College of Business
Stage One: Team Rooms
Stage Two: MBA Commons
Stage Three: Atrium
Image Source: http://riit.smeal.psu.edu/facilities/building-maps/first-level
Team Room Class Rooms Common Areas Atrium
October 2nd, 2013 - No Comments
Today we are happy to introduce guest blogger Jennifer Eury, the Director of Smeal Alumni Relations.
Greetings from Happy Valley!
Alumni engagement continues to make a tremendous difference here at the Penn State Smeal College of Business. In fact, the alumni network helps to distinguish Smeal from other leading business schools. With an expansive alumni network around the world, our graduates have excelled in start-ups and Fortune 100 companies. They are CEOs, authors, philanthropists, and mentors.
In just a week or two, we will announce the registration of our first-ever, Impact Smeal Day, hosted by our Smeal Alumni Society, and scheduled for Friday, November 15, 2013. This day will provide alumni with the opportunity to return to campus to reconnect with the college and engage in a number of activities with faculty, staff, and students, and of course, other alumni. From connecting with current students and hearing about faculty research to networking with other alumni, this day will offer something for everyone from recent graduates to retirees!
We also continue to offer alumni a number of ways to reconnect with the college, in their local communities. In addition to the events coordinated by our Smeal Business clubs in D.C., Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, this month, we are also holding alumni networking receptions in Washington, D.C. and NYC, and a webinar with Dean Whiteman, highlighting the latest news at Smeal. For more information, and to register for this webinar in the near future, please visit our schedule of upcoming events and webinars.
For more information about alumni engagement at Smeal, visit us online.
For the glory,
Jennifer L. Eury
Director of Alumni Relations
September 10th, 2013 - No Comments
At the end of August, I travelled to California for a crazy week of recruiting events in San Francisco and Los Angeles! The last event of the week was held at an organization called The Fulfillment Fund located in Los Angeles. According to their website, “[their]mission is to make college a reality for students growing up in educationally and economically under resourced communities.” In addition to helping high school students pursue a college education, they also work with college students and Fund alumni who are pursuing graduate school. Certainly, they are an organization with a fantastic educational mission and one we were excited to work with!
We held an MBA information session for about a dozen prospective students—many of whom had never been out of California—to tell them all about the Penn State and Smeal experience. What made this even particularly exciting for me, was how it came to be…
About 2 months ago, I received a “cold call” email from a gentleman named John Mitchell who works at the Fund. He was looking to make connections for his students at PSU as he himself is an alumnus of the school. Upon reading his initial email, I knew this was a good fit for our program and I offered to connect in person with his group during my planned trip. However, I couldn’t help but note that I recognized his name from MY time as a student at Penn State. He had been one of the featured baton twirlers for the world class Blue Band during my freshman year in 1992. I vividly remember him twirling his heart out for 100K+ fans in the heart of Beaver Stadium on game day. For as big of a place as Penn State is, it can certainly be a small world sometimes! In addition to getting our organizations together to help students learn more about b-school education, we also connected as Penn State alumni. It never ceases to amaze me how the Penn State network continues to work in mysterious ways. It is happily unavoidable and speaks loudly to the power of being connected and the opportunities those connections can bring in both a professional and personal context.
The event was a success, and the candidates were excited to learn about both the Penn State Smeal MBA Program and the Penn State experience. I hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between our two organizations. I often note in my blog post the famous Penn State adage “WE ARE…”. In this case, not only does it mean “WE ARE…PENN STATE”, but it means, “WE ARE…EVERYWHERE”—and that’s a great place to be!
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
September 9th, 2013 - No Comments
Today we are pleased to welcome Mike Brown, MBA Career Services Director as our guest blogger!
Employability replaces Life-long Employment
By Mike Brown, Director, Smeal MBA Career Services
Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was asked if there were any guarantees to lasting employment in the future. In her response, she said the only guarantee is of lasting employability; fostered by a positive attitude, strong communication skills, the ability to get along with others, the ability to solve problems and to accept change.
Within business and organizations, the old employment contract of job security and life-long employment has disappeared. Because of increased technology and the need to be competitive in the global marketplace, companies are constantly restructuring their workplaces.
Payroll costs account for up to 65% of total operating costs. “Doing more with less,” has become the mantra of American business during the last 15 years. The rules have changed and hardworking, loyal “company people” have found themselves in search of new jobs or new careers.
It is this concept of employability that must become a part of our mindset. Employability or career self-reliance rests with the individual not the employer.
The best symbol of the old employment contract was the “career ladder.” A representation of the new contract is the “career lattice,” or “jungle gym” in which one’s career will take an upward, diagonal, horizontal or even downward route. Under the new employment contract, we must develop a “self-employed” attitude; becoming self-directing managers of our own careers.
I believe these attitudes toward employability or career self-reliance are indispensable for future success:
Own your career. View your work as owner of your business. Career success is now your responsibility, not your employers. Set goals; plan the steps to achieve them. Regard your skills and technical abilities as products, being always aware of your marketability.
Assess and evaluate your accomplishments, abilities and personal strengths constantly. Chronicle your achievements quarterly, or at least yearly. Benchmark your competencies to others in your field or industry. Remain competitive and never become complacent. Standing still is moving backwards!
Be open to multiple career directions. If you could paint your “career mosaic,” what would each of those tiles say about you? Manager, writer, student, lecturer, furniture refinisher, volunteer, activist, hobbyist. You may have a “portfolio” career based on your skills, interests and values. Your opportunities to develop secondary work will become greater. At the same time, you will create multiple streams of income and work satisfaction.
Become a continuous learner. Enhance your work and life skills. Determine areas of personal or professional development that may be holding you back. Attend seminars and training seminars to acquire new skills. Pursue advanced degree, continuing education and certificate programs. Participate in lectures and speaker series.
Be passionate about your work. Do what you love and love what you do. View your work not as a job but as a value contribution to your employer, and a series of career accomplishments to bolster your own “product portfolio.”
Constantly re-think, re-define and re-construct your work. Be your own agent of change. You may reinvent yourself for three or four career changes and have 10 to 20 different jobs. The key is being proactive, rather than reactive.
The beauty if this wisdom is simple. It will change. As companies continue to reinvent the way they do business, we too must reinvent our worklife. With a new mindset of employability, however, you will control the choices.
Tags: admissions, application, business school, Interviews, job search, leadership, MBA, MBA application, MBA search, network, networking, Penn State, Penn State MBA, Principled Leadership, Smeal, Smeal MBA
August 29th, 2013 - No Comments
We here in MBA Admissions have been passing down our advice and guidance about the best ways to handle the application process for a long time and we have gained much knowledge about best practices. This summer though I was actually able to put all those years of knowledge into practice as I, like many of you have or soon will, took the GMAT exam.
Being removed from school for quite a few years the idea of taking this exam was a slightly daunting one. Did I still have the test taking skills and math and grammar skills to be able to perform well? It was one thing to advise others about this exam, but now I had to throw myself into the actual problems as opposed to just explaining basic concepts.
When you register for the GMAT exam they are nice enough to give you 2 electronic practice exams. These are essentially the real thing, with questions lifted from previous exams. I considered these like gold. These were my opportunities to really gauge myself on how not only the exam would go, but how I would measure up. Taking their advice I dove right in and took the first practice exam not long after familiarizing myself with the types of questions and the way they would be asked. Wow. What an eye opener that exam was. As much as I wanted to recreate an actual test environment, a quiet and isolated room, just me and the computer screen, no distractions, 4 hours straight of just GMAT exam. That was the plan, but life got in the way. I got room and computer part down, but my wife had to leave town for the weekend so I also had my 2 month old daughter and our little dog as well. Therefore my first practice test was filled with starts and stops (thankfully you can pause a practice exam). I actually feel in a way this helped me personally (it may not be for everyone.) It prevented me from frying my brain all at once and getting discouraged. These little breaks I took to regroup, walk around, maybe change a diaper allowed me to refocus my energies back to doing my best work on each set of problems. When it was all said and done I felt like I knew nothing, but my score was actually ok, in the range I was hoping for, maybe even a little better. I started to wonder “could I really do well at this?”
I went through that first practice exam over and over, looked at all the problems I missed, figured out how and why I missed them, and learned the concepts. It all was starting to make sense. I reviewed the problems I got right; made sure I understood why I got them right and didn’t just get lucky with a shot in the dark. I was so ready for that second practice exam, I could taste success. When time came later for that second practice exam it was just a week before test day. This time I made sure to get the house to myself. I went through it and found myself still getting a little flustered every now and again, but I know I was improving. After 3-4 hours the moment of truth came down and… I did worse than the first practice exam. Uh-oh.
I was discouraged. After that first practice test I started to have dreams of really doing great and exceeding my expectations. This second exam grounded me greatly. Maybe this was just how I was going to and there wouldn’t be any improvement. I reviewed the exam, and saw the same things as the first. A lot of questions I got right, a lot of questions I got wrong (some for stupid mistakes on my part and some because I quite frankly just didn’t know the right answer.) If I got it wrong because I didn’t know I studied the concepts and did my best to understand how to do it in the future.
What I did next was the hardest thing for me, but the best thing for me.
I took the last week off of studying and preparing and just let my brain decompress. When test day finally arrived I felt relaxed, comfortable, but still a little nervous. All that preparation though kicked in as I sat down and began the exam. The questions made sense, nothing was too different than what I had seen before. I paid careful attention to read the questions well to avoid any silly mistakes and if a concept came up that I wasn’t sure about I did my best to narrow my options and took a guess rather than spend 15 minutes on one question getting frustrated by something I just simply did not know too well. When the smoke had cleared and I clicked the final submit a relief came over me… it was finally over. Then my score appeared and I had done over 50 points better than on either of my practice exams!! All my studying and practicing had paid off. I was relieved, I was proud, and I was so happy it was all over.
So now I really know what it’s like for all of you out there and I realize the only advice I can really give is do what works for you. Knowing yourself and what you need to succeed is a key part to not only taking a GMAT exam, but most things you will encounter in your professional and personal lives. Good Luck!!!
-Scott R. Sylves