April 21st, 2016 - No Comments
It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of another academic year here at the Penn State Smeal MBA Program. For our students, this semester has been filled with many activities. They spent hours in the classroom and working on team and individual assignments. They traveled on experiential learning trips to foreign countries, the New York Fired Department and the Marine Base in Quantico, Virginia. Students participated in multiple case competitions, consulted on live business problems with companies of all sizes and represented our program throughout the University. In their free time, students have made time for their families and friends, supporting each other through good times and challenges.
The MBA Program Office has been busy this semester helping our students succeed in and out of the classrooms. We hope to facilitate great relationships both with and between the students, faculty and others at Penn State. It is very rewarding to watch students develop personally and professionally in the two years they are here, and we are immensely proud of all they accomplish during their time with us.
This is the last time I will be blogging on behalf of the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, as I will be moving on to the next challenge in my professional life. I would like to thank all of the colleagues, students, prospective students and alumni with whom I have connected during my almost ten years here. It has been an honor to work with all of you. If you are considering an MBA or the Smeal MBA Program, I have to tell you that getting my MBA and later working for the program were two of the best decisions I have ever made.
-Ann Mallison, Director of Student Services
March 21st, 2016 - No Comments
The concept of Ubuntu—“I am; because of you”*—is a central guiding principle of South African culture. In early March, I was able to experience Ubuntu firsthand as staff leader for the Penn State Smeal MBA Johannesburg Global Immersion trip, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying it was life changing.
Ubuntu pays respect to leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, and the sacrifices they made for their country and their people. This spirit is also reflected in the way South Africans conduct business with each other and with the world. Their humbleness and gratitude were apparent in every Penn State interaction throughout a week of amazing experiences.
As I set out to write a blog post about my Global Immersion journey, I wanted to be certain to capture that spirit of Ubuntu. It came through in sessions with established companies like Coca-Cola, EY, and Ogilvy & Mather. It came through in meetings with entrepreneurs like those from New Africa Petroleum and The Soweto Hotel. It came through in visits to cultural destinations like the Apartheid Museum, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory. Just a few of many highlights:
Halfway around the world, the Penn State bond and spirit was still strong! We connected with two alumni from Penn State, one from the Smeal MBA program and one from the Penn State Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management Program, and heard their amazing stories of success, sacrifice, prosperity, and hard work. We were invited into their world and lives with open arms, and they—busy executives—readily took time to speak to every student who wanted to connect with them personally.
Our tour guide was a masterful storyteller and a man who lived through the rise and fall of apartheid. He led us through Soweto, one of the poorest townships in Johannesburg, and introduced us (in Freedom Square), to a trio of teenaged boy singers who had requested to perform for his visitors from Penn State. The group, from Kliptown, sent chills down our spines with a rendition of the South African national anthem.
We visited the Henley Business School and met participants in the Food Lovers Market Leadership Development Program. One young man we met with told us his story of growing up with no shoes. He asked if he could be in our picture with the Nittany Lion mascot, and asked if maybe he could learn more about going to Penn State someday. We talked of our daily lives over a traditional South African lunch.
Very much like our iconic “WE ARE…PENN STATE!” cheer, Ubuntu helps to define the South African experience and aspires to bring very diverse groups of people together as one. While it was fascinating to hear about global strategy, product marketing, and how goods move through the continent, it was the many personal connections we built and strengthened in South Africa that made the journey so special and unique. And, to experience it with our students, and learn alongside of them was simply the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
(*The definition of Ubuntu has been cited in many places and varies slightly from source to source. For additional information please see this TED Talk by Boyd Varty, and the accompanying article, as a helpful starting point: http://blog.ted.com/further-reading-on-ubuntu/). The quote I have used above is taken from here).
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
February 22nd, 2016 - No Comments
We know that the application process can be a stressful time. In addition to the stress, each school has its own requirements which can make applying confusing. Below are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while applying to the MBA Program at the Smeal College of Business.
- As you are completing the application through the Graduate School portal, remember to upload a copy of your official transcript. Should you be admitted, the Graduate School may then contact you with instructions on how to send the official transcripts directly to them.
- When you list your self-reported scores in the application, please remember to also contact the testing agencies to request official scores be sent directly to the school. We cannot complete a review of your application without the official scores.
- As you submit your essay and resume, you have the choice to either upload a document or enter in text manually. I would HIGHLY recommend that you choose to upload a document. You can then control the formatting and ensure the document looks the way you would prefer.
- The MBA Program has a recommendation system that is separate from the Graduate School portal. To submit recommendations, you will need to create a login for our site here: http://php.smeal.psu.edu/mba/recommendation/index.php. We do require two recommendations, so remember to take care of that ahead of time.
- Finally, we also have a video requirement that is separate from the Graduate School application portal. You will need to log into the Kira Talent website to complete this portion of the application: https://app.kiratalent.com/applicant/p645XP/instructions. You do have the ability to practice within the portal and we recommend that you take the time to do that. As you are completing the video, make sure you are in a quiet space and you are dressed professionally for the camera.
I hope these tips will help you as you complete the process and, as always, feel free to ask us if you have any questions as you work through the application!
Susan K. Winarchick
Admissions Operations Manager
Penn State Smeal College of Business MBA Program
January 18th, 2016 - No Comments
In almost every admissions application, you have an opportunity to include additional information, beyond the requested questions, that you think might be helpful to the admissions committee. The Smeal MBA application includes the opportunity to provide an optional “clarification statement.” If you find yourself wondering whether or not you should disclose something that you think the admissions committee is likely to ask you about, it’s best to be up front and provide an explanation. Here are just a few examples of areas, that if applicable, you may want to clarify.
A gap or gaps in your resume. Some people have gaps for wonderful reasons such as moving across the country or traveling abroad to get married or otherwise address family matters. Some applicants might have gaps in their employment due to a long-term illness, caring for an elderly parent, raising a family, or being terminated from a job. Employment gaps aren’t necessarily bad, but it’s best to help the admissions team understand why there’s a gap. Not addressing the reason for an employment gap can seem like you are trying to hide something you fear might be damaging to your prospects.
Several job jumps. This is especially noticeable if you haven’t held a single job for more than two years. If you have a continuous upward career trajectory, even across several organizations, or if you have remained with the same company and continue to be promoted; no explanation is necessary. If you’ve taken what might appear to be demotions or your resume could suggest you can’t maintain a job for a significant period of time, explaining your reasons for job jumping is helpful. Admissions staff understand that sometimes, for example, a reduction in job responsibilities might be a trade-off for starting a family, or an opportunity to live in closer proximity to relatives. Just don’t keep us guessing.
A downward trend in the grades on your transcript or a semester of lackluster grades. Academic challenges do happen even to the most diligent student; just let us know why. Without explaining a semester of serious illness or other major life event, it may seem that lower grades in one semester are due to scheduling issues or struggling through intensive coursework, which may not reflect well on your prospects for a rigorous MBA program.
Re-taking your GMAT. Please let us know the date of your rescheduled GMAT exam. We won’t make an admissions decision until we receive your newest score.
At Smeal we value honesty and will consider every unique situation with fairness. Take full advantage of the clarification statement if any of these situations or other circumstances apply to your application. Every applicant is always given thorough and respectful consideration.
MBA Associate Director of Admissions
December 11th, 2015 - No Comments
Across the world, many holidays are celebrated at the end of the calendar year. Holiday celebrations often come with time off, travel, and opportunities to connect with family and friends. Aside from taking a little time to rest and relax (a crucial part of staying healthy and productive!), the holidays can also be a good time for reflecting on the business school search and application process AND doing a little work to get ahead in the new year.
While students often leave university campuses in mid-December and don’t return until early to mid-January, staff is often working during some of the break. Don’t assume you can’t plan a visit just because students are gone! While it is IDEAL to visit when students are on campus and classes are in session, getting the time off from work or other obligations just may not work for you. Depending on your situation, this could be a good time to get some one on one time with an admissions officer or program staff—especially if you live close enough that could again visit in the spring when classes are back in session. If this is your only option, planning a campus visit during down time is much better than not planning one at all. Not all programs will offer this—and options may be limited—but it can never hurt to ask. (Side note: Many schools will shut down completely for about two weeks—please be patient with us if email response time is delayed during this time).
Maybe you haven’t seen Uncle George or Cousin Sara for awhile but they’ll be coming to town for a visit. While they are family first, they might also have had illustrious careers, have graduate degrees, and could be a wealth of professional information! Take the conversation to the next level. Sometimes we overlook great resources that are right in front of us. One word of caution—people might just need a break from work and might not want to talk about their career while they are decompressing during a holiday break. Be sensitive to this, and offer up the suggestion to connect after January 1st if the middle of Christmas Eve dinner doesn’t seem like the best place to talk about career goals.
Traveling? Others are too! Schools might have current students or alumni also going to a city near you who are willing to meet you for coffee. Start with the admissions office and inquire. Sometimes the stars align and you can connect while on the road.
The internet is 24/7. Have you been meaning to get on LinkedIn and start making some connections, exploring career opportunities, digging deeper into social media to learn more about b-school, what alumni are up to, etc.? Curl up in your pajamas and snuggle in with your tablet. No one says good research can’t be conducted while eating some potato pancakes or drinking a cup of egg nog!
Take time for reflection. The start of the new year is a good time to clarify what you need to do as you prepare for your journey into the world of the MBA. Depending on where you are in the application process, you’ve likely already done a lot of thinking and planning. There’s always, however, a next step to think about and plan for.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy end to 2015!
Stacey Dorang Peeler, MBA Admissions Director
December 1st, 2015 - No Comments
You’ve been invited to a Smeal MBA Preview Day. It’s time to prepare, especially if you’ve also been invited to interview. Consider ways to maximize your visit.
You’ll receive a schedule for the day in advance. Review the schedule and determine whether there is anything else you might like to see or anyone else you might like to meet. Let us know as soon as possible what those activities may include so we can advise you or even make arrangements for you.
You’ll be meeting with staff from admissions, career services, employer relations, and student services. Make a list of any questions you have for each of these areas.
Where are you in the admissions process? Are you just starting to consider MBA programs or have you decided that Penn State Smeal is one of your top choice schools? What questions do you need to have answered to narrow down your choice of programs? What is your greatest barrier or barriers to pursing graduate business education? Are you concerned about costs, do you have multiple priorities and stakeholders to consider, or are you exploring academic readiness or employment issues? Be prepared to talk with current students and staff about class sizes, teaching styles, support services, and anything else you may be curious about.
Consider your background, our curriculum, and your short-term and long-term goals. Are any questions coming to mind for you? Hopefully you have some questions about your future! Questions related to goal planning, employers visiting campus and graduate outcomes are good places to begin when you meet with our career services and employer relations team.
The student services team supports our MBA students in their overall student experience, from classroom to career. Direct any questions you may have about life inside and outside of the classroom to our student services staff. What questions do you have about housing, co-curricular activities, academic advising and scheduling, global and leadership immersion programs, or any other questions related to a student’s MBA experience at Smeal?
You’ll have three opportunities to meet and talk with current students. Your first opportunity will be during Coffee Buzz which occurs between morning classes and just before you sit in on a class during your visit. Talk with current students about your academic and career interests. You’ll begin to expand your network very quickly as our current students connect you with their peers. Lunch will be hosted by current students. Faculty and staff will not be present during lunch. We encourage our current students to talk openly and honestly with prospective students because we want to make sure incoming students are a good fit with our program. It’s good to ask about challenges, concerns, and even disappointments. To close the day, you’ll have ice cream at Berkey Creamery with a group of current students.
Your final session includes time with our program director and faculty liaison. Ask any questions that arose throughout the day, during your class session, and about academics. This is a great time to learn more about why classes are structured the way they are and how you might make the most of a Smeal education.
Preview Day is exactly that – a preview. If you met a great student contact, email them with follow up questions. If you don’t remember who you met, work with an admissions staff member and we’ll get you in contact with the right person.
Throughout the day assess your comfort level about whatever is most important to you. Be sure to have fun too!
MBA Associate Director of Admissions
November 24th, 2015 - No Comments
The holidays are upon us! How can you use them to network your way to a stellar job? Even as a prospective student considering an MBA, you can start the search for your summer internship now.
While some job seekers assume everyone they might want to reach will be out over the holidays, the smaller numbers of resumes and cover letters submitted then are likely to get more attention. Additionally, a firm’s new fiscal year may start in January, which can be the busiest hiring month of the year AND “people hire people they know and like,” so don’t be a stranger!
Many parties happen in December. Whether it’s your own office party or an event through a health club, social or religious organization, make it a point to be there and introduce yourself. Ask questions that show interest in people’s lives and career paths. If you commonly work with a small group within a larger firm, challenge yourself to interact with at least three colleagues whom you don’t know well and learn something about their passions. You never know who they might know in your target industry or what they’ve done in a previous job that may align perfectly with your career goals.
While it’s true that many folks add precious vacation days to national holidays to lengthen time away to visit family or flee to warmer climates, some do stay in the office to get work done in peace. Reach out to alumni from your undergraduate alma mater or other contacts you can find through LinkedIn at some of your target firms and request an info interview, even in the first couple weeks of December. Keep the note short and professional, asking for no more than 30 minutes to get insight on their function and how things work in the company. Briefly state your background and what motivates you to learn more, based on your knowledge of the firm. Indicating that you realize they may not have any openings at this time could relieve their potential concern that you’re reaching out just to ask for a job! Include your availability for a call or meeting over the next week or so and if you’re local or planning to visit the area on a particular day, offer to meet at the office or a local coffee shop, if that’s more convenient. Meeting in person can boost your credibility and demonstrates a clear willingness to invest in the relationship and your career.
A large percentage of people credit networking with helping them land a job. Building relationships can take time, so starting this process early is wise. At the end of your meeting, be sure to ask with whom the person recommends you speak, given your specific interests. This will enable you to join existing networks and get a broad array of perspectives on your function and industries of interest, either to help you clarify your goals or to prepare you for interviews.
Associate Director, MBA Career Services
November 19th, 2015 - No Comments
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.
Mike Brown, Director, Smeal MBA Career Services
November 9th, 2015 - No Comments
One of the great perks of attending a full-time MBA Program (and, honestly, being an administrator at one) is experiencing daily a diverse community of people. In this program, you learn a great deal from people who originate from a different background than your own. Our international students are always more than happy to share their cultures and traditions with us and our program is richer for it.
Our community celebrates three major events each year in order for us to learn more about various cultures. Those events are Diwali, Thanksgiving, and Lunar New Year. On October 26th, our MBA Association collaborated with our Indian students to host a Diwali celebration. Diwali is the Indian festival of lights and is the biggest holiday in India. The Diwali celebration in the MBA program, begins with an Indian buffet dinner (pro tip: if you haven’t had Samosas in your life, you’re missing out). Following dinner is a series of dances, songs, videos, games, and a fashion show. A large portion of attendees don traditional Indian clothes including beautiful kurtas and stunning saris.
This event is a wonderful way to come together as a community and experience this magnificent celebration. We speak often about how close knit our program is and events such as this one really make us a family. Because We Are!
-Susan K. Winarchick
Penn State Smeal MBA Admissions Operations Manager
November 5th, 2015 - No Comments
First year MBA students at Penn State Smeal recently completed Career Immersion Week. One of their workshops included an etiquette lunch. The presenter, Kelly Frager, put students at ease by explaining that much of the information she would cover during the meal would serve as simple reminders. Kelly explained how etiquette has been around for a long time, doesn’t change, and that this refresher etiquette lunch should help students feel more confident about their table manners. Because so many interviews and business meetings happen around meals, it’s important to be prepared.
Throughout lunch it was interesting for me to consider how casual dining, which is becoming increasingly more common in business settings, might inadvertently cause us to break the rules. In a formal dining situation, diners have at least two forks – one for salad and one for their entrée. Most casual restaurants will encourage us to keep our forks from appetizer through dessert. In a formal or casual dining situation, if you drop your utensil, you are supposed to leave it where it landed and ask for a new one. Of course it makes sense to avoid putting a dirty fork back on a clean table and you certainly wouldn’t use it for eating. However, I could also image a server in a more casual restaurant thinking it’s rude for a diner to leave their utensil on the floor, especially if it lands in other peoples’ path. Knowing the rules and understanding the expectations in both formal and informal settings is essential for making good impressions.
Students found the session to be fun and informative. As Kelly explained, etiquette is about being “other-centered.” If you’re focused on making others feel comfortable and put them at ease, you’re demonstrating proper etiquette. I also think about a quote from Oscar Wilde, “The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.” Because table manners involve more than just being courteous, I’m glad we offer an etiquette lunch to every first year class. Our graduates “roll up their sleeves” attitude and a top-notch curriculum with world class faculty, combined with refined manners help to explain why our MBA graduates are consistently successful in the workplace.
MBA Admissions Associate Director