Stepping Up...Celebrating those who make a difference to the School of Management
Alumni Share Knowledge and Experience with Students
Merriam-Webster defines "expert" as "having, involving or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience."
At the School of Management, we are fortunate to have thousands of alumni who are experts in their fields. We are even more fortunate that dozens of our alumni return to campus each year to share their expertise with our students.
Students have the opportunity to learn from alumni in a variety of venues. For example, the Frank L. Ciminelli Family Career Resource Center (CRC) hosts informal Coffee Cup Conversations where alumni meet with small groups of students in a casual, roundtable format. Conversations with an Executive are larger, more formal presentations by alumni in senior management and are coordinated by the Graduate Programs Office. Students clubs, such as the Society for Human Resource Management, invite alumni to speak about opportunities and challenges in particular fields. In addition, professors often have alumni address their classes about specific topics in the curriculum.
"The alumni perspective is invaluable to current students," says Gwen Appelbaum, assistant dean and director of the CRC. "Students can learn from alumni about potential career path options, the real-world value of a School of Management education, and what they should be doing right now to make an impact on their career development."
Andrea Mesel '04, an internal auditor at Independent Health, has returned to campus for Coffee Cup Conversations and to speak in the "Career Strategies, Planning and Management" class, a required course for undergraduates that teaches self-assessment, résumé writing, interviewing skills and job-search techniques.
"I think it's important to give back to students and to maintain a connection with the School of Management because it's helped me get to where I am today," Mesel says.
She says the student response to her presentations has been very positive. "Students were very interested in the one-on-one time after the presentations, and most had prepared specific questions for me about their individual situations and career interests. I hand out business cards to encourage future interaction and let them know they can keep in contact with me through the school's MentorLink database and LinkedIn."
Mindy Long, a second-year MBA student, attends as many alumni speaking functions as possible, both to gain knowledge and for networking opportunities. "You can make great connections, just in general or with people who could be influential in your future," she says.
And even though Long has a job lined up for after graduation (she will be director of talent development for New Era), she still finds the talks beneficial. "I get a lot of valuable information, sometimes just small things that are good advice for someone starting out. Often the speaker gives us a bigger picture of how we are going to use what we're learning in the program," she says.
"Alumni success stories, as well as tales of challenges, failures and eventual breakthroughs, encourage students that their current sacrifice of time and money will have a great dividend yield in the long term," says David Frasier, assistant dean and director of graduate programs.
Kevin Daughrity, MBA '06, agrees. He is owner of two wineries in southwestern New York, Quincy Cellars and Sensory Winery. "It's important for students to hear from alumni because they can get a firsthand look at the importance of their education and how it will benefit them," he says. "Sitting in a classroom is one thing, but hearing how all the hard work that goes into obtaining your degree will help you just solidifies the decision to continue one's education."
In addition to business, students can learn life lessons. A talk given by Rich Floersch, BS/MBA '80, executive vice president of worldwide human resources for McDonald's Corp., and Rich Severa '79, president of Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, had a tremendous effect on second-year MBA Anthony LaRosa.
"They spoke about the process of being bold and perhaps failing, and how failing is a good opportunity to learn," LaRosa says. "Rich Floersch said, 'I might fail at something, but you're never going to defeat me.' I'll never forget that."