I was fortunate to do my summer internship at Novartis, one of the big pharmaceutical companies in the world. I worked in the strategic sourcing division, specifically in the Category Country Organization (CCO). I worked on several projects such as pricing analysis, co-designing e-Auction structure, issuing GSA (General Services Agreement), and RFP (Request For Proposal) end-to-end process etc. I wouldn’t have done a good job in the internship if it weren’t for the core and elective classes I took. BA 517 (Communication Skills for Leaders) was the most important class I took that helped me a lot in the internship. I gave several presentations to my project managers as well as for the senior leadership team, and I wouldn’t have been able to communicate and deliver the project processes and results without the valuable skills I received in BA 517. Other core & elective classes such as BA 510 (Supply Chain Management), BA 531 (Introduction to Finance) and SCM 566 (Demand Fulfillment) were crucial in having a good supply chain and finance foundation.

The Novartis strategic sourcing employees were very nice and took time from their busy schedule to explain about the projects in detail. I believe one can get a lot from a summer internship as long as you have the right attitude and one is open about what you want to get out of your internship. I also networked with other Novartis employees from different divisions (such as finance) and that was instrumental in getting a holistic view of the company as well as the company’s wholesome functions. My summer internship was the best thing that could happen after my 1st year of MBA and it is a good feeling to see all the things you have learned in 1st year MBA classes apply in some way during the internship.

- Nahom Woldemariam, Penn State Smeal MBA ’15

In most cases, interns tend to interact only within the functional area they work for and ignore others. Two reasons to interact with other functional areas:

To learn about the culture of the company: It is necessary to understand the relationships between different functional areas. Often times, different functions within a company have competing goals and have conflicting milestones. For instance, marketing and finance departments usually have different opinions on product launches. So it is a good idea to talk to all departments to understand the big picture. After all, it’s not guaranteed that you will end up in the same department when you get the full time offer.

To learn about the opportunities that are available in other areas: Hopefully you will do well in your internship and receive a full time offer from the department you worked with. In some situations, it may not be feasible to get the offer from your departments even if you did great in your internship, for various reasons that I will not elaborate on in this post. So interacting with other departments and building connections will help you apply for the opportunities that are available in those areas. If nothing, this is a good way to build your network and this may even create a unique opportunity to find your mentors.


Anxiety is one of the things that an international student traveling to the US for the first time, or for that matter any new student beginning a new college experiences. My anxiety lasted for only the first 20 minutes of the first day of orientation. That was the time it took for me to travel by bus from my apartment to the Business Building. The moment I stepped into the Business Building and met the welcoming team at Smeal, all of my anxiety went away, and everything that followed for the next two weeks fell perfectly in line.

The Smeal MBA orientation is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. The two-week schedule that was organized for our orientation was not only apt, but also exceeded everyone’s expectations. The first day started off with a check-in breakfast, followed by a welcoming message from the admissions and student services teams. The second half focused on global immersion and the expectation setting for graduate assistants. The second day of orientation focused mostly on the administrative related work such as laptop setups, insurance, assistantships and so on. One thing to note here is that the entire schedule, although it looked hectic on paper, was actually prepared to cater to the students needs. It took out all the pressure and anxiety of coming to a new place.

The third day of orientation was a special one for us. It was an all day team event at Tussey Mountain. The day was filled with a lot of fun that included free breakfast and lunch. But what’s the fun in going out somewhere and not learning something? Well that’s where the entire beauty of this event lied. We were engaged the entire day in team building and leadership activities, and the coaching that we received at this event is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The one thing that I particularly liked about this activity was the way we were taught to introspect and learn from every activity that we performed. Not only was it fun but it was also a great learning experience.

The next two days that followed were the most important sessions for any MBA student entering a B-school. A few of the sessions were focused on employer relations, career services, etiquette and networking, self-exploration, resumes, cover letters and job search strategy. These were the sessions that strengthened my faith in the Smeal MBA program, and the focus and energy of the entire staff in the 220 office simply made me awestruck. If it looks intimidating, it is not so.  After all there were times in between for a lot of fun and interactions.  All of us enjoyed every bit of attention that that we got in neatly dressed business formal suits. That concluded the first week of orientation. Although we were looking forward to relaxing that weekend, we also had the “can’t wait to get back” feeling to begin again the next Monday morning.

The second week of orientation started with a session on Career Fair Strategy, followed by a simulated career fair where we pitched ourselves to various recruiters at the Business Building atrium. It was a good practice for all of the first years since most of us have never been to a career fair before. We also received feedback at each of the recruiter booths on the various ways we could improve ourselves in future career fair interactions. The day ended with a fun session on improvisation, which was very well crafted.   The interactive session gave us very good insights on how to use improvisation techniques in our day-to-day conversations and activities.

The next day was all about how to network, and use social media for job search.  We also learned some important interview strategies, along with a short introduction to the administrative resources that are available to us for our day to day activities at Smeal. Social media is the norm and the buzz word these days, and I really admired the way our career services and admissions team gave us some important insights into how to use social media for our advantage. And yes, we actually opened and browsed through our FB, LinkedIn and twitter profiles during these sessions. Business schools are a lot of fun after all!!

Honor and integrity are taken very seriously at Smeal. Our sessions for the next day were all based on understanding the honor and integrity code at Smeal. The presenters for these sessions did a very nice job in explaining the intricate details of professionalism and conduct. We also had a very useful workshop on citation and plagiarism. We often take many things for granted in our day to day activities, but these sessions were real eye-openers in understanding what is considered ethical and what may be seen in the school and business world as non-ethical. The sessions also provided a fresh perspective in tackling ethical dilemmas that may arise in the work place or at school. Again, this was another very productive day of orientation for us, as we learned a lot of new things.

That brought us down to our last two days of orientation. The final two days were something that we all were really looking forward to, as they involved a case simulation. The penultimate day started with a session on cultural and team dynamics followed by a session on how to approach a case. All of the teams were given a common case topic for which we had to prepare slides that were due by 9:30 pm that evening. The final day started with the team case presentations followed by lunch that was sponsored by Chevron at the Nitanny Lion Inn. The finalists were declared by the time we finished our lunch, and we all moved for the Case simulation finals. The judges included Smeal Faculty, MBA Alumni, and a Chevron representative. Every one of us watched the presentations attentively, and they were not only professional but also very detailed. Before declaring the winners for the event, we received some very valuable feedback on our case presentations, and a very good observation made by all of the judges was that although it was our first case presentation, every team was very professional and composed during the entire event. The orientation activities came to a closure with closing comments by the MBA Managing Director Carrie Marcinkevage.

We all had a surprise in store as we started to leave for the day, and the surprise was a reception that included drinks and hors d’oeuvre. It was a great opportunity for all of us to mingle with our classmates and the MBA staff.

Finally, our orientation ended and we were formally inducted into the Smeal family. As we wrapped up for the week, not only did we had a sense of pride joining the wonderful community, but also a sense of anticipation as we were looking forward to the start of our classes the next week. To celebrate the start of classes there was a welcome picnic the following Sunday which was sponsored by the MBA association at a local park.






On March 21st, the SCMA in conjunction with Chevron hosted the 4th Annual SCMA Case Competition. The case was distributed to about 36 participants, divided into 9 teams, two days prior on March 19th. Then the teams worked diligently over the next 40 hours to develop a 15 minute presentation outlining their recommendation.

In the early afternoon on March 21st, the initial presentation rounds began. Each team presented their recommendation to a small panel of 2 – 3 judges. The judging panel included representatives from Chevron and Smeal’s faculty. After the formal presentation, the judges were given 5 minutes to ask any questions.

After all of the teams presented, the top 3 teams were selected to present again in the final round. Then after the final round, the judges entered one last deliberation to determine the placement of the top 3 teams. Finally, the placement of the top 3 teams was announced and a case debrief followed. Participants were then given an opportunity to network with the Chevron representatives.

The SCMA would like to thank Chevron for their sponsorship of this case competition and look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.


1st Place:

Farm Chanduayvit

Miguel Iturralde

Nancy Nie

Darius Yuwono






2nd Place:

David DeFelice

Carolina Herrera

Tatiana Kuzmenko

Majaz Mohammed






3rd Place:

Mike Bassani

Ipsa Mohanty

Linh Peters

Brian Plowman




-Angela Shershin, Penn State Smeal MBA ’14

On April 11th 2014, a Smeal MBA team consisting of Ankit Mahajan, Iqbal Aasim, Volha Taberka and Anika Zaman headed to McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University to take part in the Georgetown University Technology Case Competition 2014.

The case challenged us to craft a strategy for a DC based firm providing MOOCs in the online education industry. We received the case a few days prior, and immediately dove into researching online education to gain an understanding of the industry and the offerings of different competitors. By the 11th, we had put together a strategy recommending customized value offerings that the firm in question should offer, and a strong implementation plan. As we drove into DC, putting the finishing touches to our slide deck, we were welcomed by rows of beautiful magnolias and cherry blossoms in full bloom! As the girls were anxious to get down from the car to take pictures, Iqbal drove around campus for 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot.

Once we reached the business school and did a couple of trial runs, we went into the presentation room and presented our case in front of the judges. After braving a number of tough questions, we received positive remarks from the panel who really liked our strategy. Finally, the result was announced and to our joy, we finished second. We spend the next few hours networking and making friends with the McDonough School of Business students before heading back to happy valley. And yes, the girls succeeded in convincing the boys to take some group photos under the magnolia trees and cherry blossoms.

Overall, it was a great experience for us. Thanks to the McDonough School of Business for organizing this event and to our wonderful Smeal MBA Program Office for the never-ending support. The two first year participants learned a lot from the two seasoned second years. As a team, we had the opportunity to exercise our problem solving skills, make some great new friends, and add yet another success story to Smeal’s legacy of acing case competitions.


- Anika Zaman, Penn State Smeal MBA Class of 2015

photo 1 (10) photo 3 (2) cherry blossoms

Congratulations to the 2014 MBA Faculty Award Winners:

Core Classes:

  • Most Interesting – Sajay Samuel
  • Best Stories – Keith Crocker
  • Best Discussion – Vilmos Misangyi
  • Most Memorable – Dan Givoly
  • Best Life Lessons – Dennis Gioia
  • Best Teaching – Chris Muscarella


Elective Classes:

  • Most Interesting – Donald Hambrick
  • Best Stories - Chris Muscarella
  • Best Discussion - Vilmos Misangyi
  • Most Memorable – Ralph Oliva
  • Best Life Lessons - Lou Gattis
  • Best Teaching - David Huff


IMG_2684 IMG_2687 IMG_2688 IMG_2690 IMG_2693 IMG_2696 IMG_2699 IMG_2701 IMG_2705 IMG_2706

Numerous events happen throughout the year at Smeal. The South Africa global immersion trip was one of the most unforgettable trips I have made in my life, and the best event formulated by Smeal. About twenty 1st year MBA students went to South Africa to attend company visits, explore the rich culture and daily living, and interact with South African people that came from different backgrounds and walks of life. We met with executives from EY, Coca Cola, ESKOM (largest power utility company in Africa), entrepreneurs, etc. We also had a chance to meet business students from Gordon Institute of Business (GIBS). We visited a national park, Apartheid museum, learned about Nelson Mandela in a very emotional tone from the organizers, and also learned about Soweto. The trip changed my outlook of Africa in a very positive way, and it made me more confident about the rise of Africa. As an African, the trip has amplified my passion to return back home and contribute to the continent’s economic growth in the field I am studying. I also got to know my classmates more closely and created memorable times. We usually don’t have ample time and/or energy to discuss things outside school matter, and this trip was perfect in changing that. The overall experience was very positive because I got the chance to spend one splendid week with my fellow classmates while learning about a powerhouse country in the African continent.    

-Nahom Woldemariam, Penn State Smeal MBA ’15

South Africa Group


The tradition lives on!!  MBA students from Penn State again participated in the Duke MBA Games, which raises money and awareness for the Special Olympics of North Carolina (SONC).  Since 1989, teams from top business schools have enjoyed a weekend of friendly competition while positively influencing the lives of adult athletes, spending time with and encouraging them during athletic activities.

During the past 26 years, the event has raised over $2.2 million for SONC!  In 2014, the Penn State team fundraised over $2.5K.

It was an action-packed weekend.  On April 10, there was a social mixer where we could meet the teams we would be competing against during the weekend.  The schools included: Carnegie Mellon, Maryland, Duke, Rice, Babson, UPenn, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt.

On April 11, our team participated in the optional events (Golf outing, Hash Run) as a warm-up to the actual events.  Later that night, there was an opening ceremony to officially welcome us to the Games.  Each team also performed a choreographed dance routine.  Thanks to the direction of 2nd year MBA, Deramus Griffin, Penn State came in 4th place!

On April 12, the real fun began.  We were able to greet our Special Olympic athletes, Kristin and “Birdman.”  We were lucky to have them on our team for the 2nd consecutive year in a row.  For those going next year, watch out for these two: Kristin is the ultimate prankster, while Birdman loves to put on a performance!

Throughout the day, we competed in many fun events, such as tug of war, business suit relay, briefcase toss, dizzy bat race, soccer relay, bean bag toss, and knockout.  Penn State won the soccer relay thanks to a team comprised of Javier Bathen, Mike Bassani and Ray Banks!

After the fun-filled day, we were able to mingle and relax at a pool party before the Closing Ceremony.  During the Closing Ceremony, we were shown a video that highlighted the funniest events of the day.  We were also able to hear directly from the Special Olympians about how much fun they had with their respective teams.  Later that night, we all celebrated at the White Party sponsored by the Duke MBA Latin American Student Association.

On April 13, we were able to say our goodbyes and prepare ourselves for the 8-hour road trip back to State College just in time for class on Monday.  Remember, we’re still conscientious MBA students after all!

For more information about Duke MBA Games, please visit their website at http://sites.duke.edu/mbagames/weekend/

-Anthony Cheng, Penn State Smeal MBA ‘14


On April 1st, the SCMA celebrated the transition of the Executive Board with an ice cream social!  Here, SCMA members were able to network with the new board and each other while enjoying three different and equally delicious ice cream flavors from the Creamery.


The 2014-2015 SCMA Officers are:

President: Carolina Herrera

VP Corporate Relations: Tatiana Kuzmenko

VP Finance: Majaz Mohammed

VP Marketing: Brijesh Kundu

VP Communication: Neha Bajera


Congratulations to the new SCMA Board!  From the 2013-2014 SCMA Board, we wish you luck in your future endeavors!

-Angela Shershin, Penn State Smeal MBA ‘14

One of the main reasons for which people want their MBA is to raise their salary by either: changing careers, changing companies, getting a better position or working globally. The biggest question is how? How can a MBA program differentiate you from other master programs?  To me, “putting theories into practice” is one of those differentiating factors.  In fact, with four years of experience and a master of Industrial Engineering, I wanted a program that would help me put theories I’ve learned and all the four years of experiences I’ve gained into practical business problems.  Here at the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, most of the classes are based on real cases. You read the case, do the analysis and make decisions as if you were the manager or the CEO of that specific company. Then, even more interesting is listening to a professor with dozens of years of experience in industry describing the case for you and sometimes hearing brilliant ideas from your classmates.

After a while you realize that these cases might not exactly be the ones you’re looking for as “real world problems”. Typically a case consists of all the necessary information needed to analyze the problem, for example, information about the market and competitors, company’s financials and future plans. But how can you gather all the information needed when dealing a complicated business situation? In fact, finding and putting together the right information is one of the main problems you can face in complicated business situations. I looked for the solution and I found the answer in “Case Competitions,” in which they give you the problem which might be even less than a page.  Then you have 24 hours and a huge amount of data to review to come up with a good idea and supporting information. This is a situation you may experience in competitive global business situations.  As a Penn State Smeal MBA candidate you have the opportunity to attend case competitions that focus on many different functional business areas.   You will be working as part of a team, and competing with other teams from top tier business schools.

Another practical experience is your final project called the Applied Professional Experience (APEX), in which you have a chance to work with a company and help improve a system or solve a problem. Working in an APEX project may also help you improve your project management skills or obtain your six-sigma black belt if you are interested in those areas.

The Penn State Smeal MBA program is a demanding program that gives you many opportunities, like the few just mentioned.  It is up to you to figure out how to take advantage of those opportunities, depending on your goals. The Penn State Smeal MBA program is a great opportunity to experience necessary challenges and gain knowledge that meets your needs as you pursue a better professional career.

-Masoud Ghayoumi, Penn State Smeal MBA ’14

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