Monday, November 30, 2009

Director’s Corner: Updates on the MSA Program

I trust that everyone had a restful Thanksgiving break and that you are now ready for the “home stretch.” I find it hard to believe that we have the Fall 2009 semester almost behind us! I find it even harder to believe that we now have a group of MSA students getting ready to graduate in December.

Congratulations to those of you finishing your last of three semesters in the MSA program! I know it has been challenging but I am hopeful that you have also found it rewarding. I look forward to talking with you all in graduate exit interviews over the next week.


Given that a group of you are graduating and many more will be graduating in May, I thought that I would take this opportunity to make you aware of an exciting new Council we are forming for the MSA program. We will roll out an MSA Young Alumni Council during the Spring 2010 semester. This is something we have considered for many years and that a May 2009 graduate worked on diligently both while here in her program and post graduation last summer. We are very excited about this Council and hope that most of our students will take advantage of this opportunity when they do graduate. The MSA Young Alumni Council is being formed by a group of recent alumni and will have their first meeting in conjunction with our Accounting Advisory Council in the Spring. Young alumni are extremely important to our program in so many ways.

• First, young alumni have the most knowledge about our current program content and how it met, or failed to meet, their needs in their first several years as they begin their careers. We will look to this Council to give us feedback regarding program content and to help us stay in touch with a rapidly changing profession.
• Second, young alumni are many times in a better position to understand the concerns and needs of current students and may help serve as mentors to these students during their program. As I am sure you know better than anyone, as a student you have many questions that would best be answered by someone fairly “new” in the field.
• Third, young professionals sometimes find it easier to “give back” to their institution through their time. Staying involved in a program helps the program stay current and helps further increase the value of your degree as time goes forward. We plan to have multiple committees so there should be something for everyone who would like to be involved.

Therefore, whether you are graduating in December 2009, May 2010, or December 2010 from the MSA program I hope that you will consider becoming a part of the MSA Young Alumni Council. This Council is truly being formed by young alumni and is primarily for young alumni and students.

I hope that you all have a wonderful last week of classes and make it through exams unscathed. I further hope that your Christmas break rejuvenates those of you returning in the Spring to continue your coursework. We look forward to welcoming those of you returning back on campus in January and we wish those of you graduating the very best of luck and hope that you stay in touch with us!

Warm Regards,
Yvonne Hinson
Director of Accountancy

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving … and Black Friday!

After getting stressed out on the first two days of this week, I woke up a bit late on Wednesday morning. (For those of you who don’t know, the full-time MBA class of 2011 had back-to-back mid-term full-length exams on Monday and Tuesday.) First things first, I opened my university’s outlook mailbox and found: 14 unread emails. I frisked through the emails and to my surprise, none of them concerned any major deliverables and, 10 out of 14 had the word Thanksgiving. To my amazement, I was invited to four lunches and one dinner by five different families. That equals a lot of opportunities! After looking at the distance of each place from my house, I decided to go meet two different families for lunch and dinner.
At lunch, I was with the family of one of the physics professors, and he explained me the tradition of Thanksgiving. We ate a traditional meal and I thoroughly enjoyed eggplant lasagna and stuffing. For dessert I had baked apples and a delicious dish made from cranberries. For dinner, again had traditional thanksgiving food and well it was equally delicious. At dinner, I saw 50 First Dates, the one with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, with my hosts. We ate, laughed, talked and had fun. Both families made me feel like home and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. In short, I couldn’t have asked for more on such an auspicious day.
Black Friday was thrilling. Well, I didn’t wake up at 4 in the morning to be in one of the long queues, but yes I reached JCPenny at 8 am, early enough, to buy some clothes for the upcoming winter. It was surprising to see almost everything on 40-50% discount and it was challenging to fight the urge of spending.
Anyways, I still have 2 ½ days of break left and I think it’s time to run some long delayed errands.
~ Rahul Goyal

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m so happy exams are halfway over! I didn’t realize how much I had learned in Econ until I took the exam. My roommate and I are going to visit my family in Atlanta for the Thanksgiving break. Most of the MA students are going home with friends as several live too far to go home for the short break. We’ve all bonded now through all the teamwork, tests and traveling we’ve done together! I can’t wait to eat fried turkey, a specialty of my favorite uncle. Friday morning we are going shopping for our holiday party dresses. SGA puts on a HUGE party every year and everyone looks forward to it. It’s the perfect event to unwind after our last final exams. Happy Holidays!
~ Lauren Collins

I am sitting in front of my fireplace, thinking warm thoughts about my life, my family, and the God who made it all possible. Keep this Spirit of thanks everyday Happy People.
~ Ahkesha Murray

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful … For a Break!

I see a light at the end of the tunnel!
And no, it isn’t the sun peaking out for the first time in a few days … I wish! As I re-caffeinate after my morning exams for Law & Ethics and Economics, I am beginning to feel there is an end in sight. An accounting project due tomorrow, two exams and an ALP project after the short Thanksgiving break and I can declare the first semester finished. Then, it’s just a week and a half of classes until I can retreat into the cocoon of home and family.
I can feel the energy around campus picking up as students, both undergraduate and graduate, ready for their voyages home or prepare their own homes for incoming relatives. I am luckily joining my family on a trek into the mountains to celebrate Thanksgiving with my Grandmother in West Virginia, and will then relax in Raleigh a few days before returning to school.
My family is so close and I am happy I can join them for the short holiday, but I will admit that I am looking forward to catching up on some sleep too. My break will likely be spent resting, connecting with my family, and studying for the rest of my finals and filling out applications; although, it will be nice to study on my own time instead of trying to fit it around an already busy schedule!
I have heard that next semester is a little lighter, but considering the case I’ve already looked through for my upcoming Marketing class, I’m wondering if someone wasn’t pulling my leg. The MA program is by no means easy, but I’m beginning to think I will be very well-prepared for a high-paced work environment when I leave!
But now, I must get back to work as my triple-shot coffee is finished and I can feel my brain cells jumping once more. One more day and I can mimic William Wallace’s shout of “Freedom!”
~ Jen Ratliff

Monday, November 16, 2009

Director’s Corner

In my last article I shared some ideas for coping with the workload in the MA program. Today, I would like to build on this and elaborate on the specific mechanisms we have in place to support you on the academic side of the house.

When you find you need additional help beyond the classroom, your first line of defense should be your instructors. All of your instructors are dedicated to your success and are happy to meet with you outside of class. Because many of your instructors are also teaching in the full-time MBA Program, I recommend that you schedule a time to meet with them. Furthermore, in addition to meeting with your instructors individually, most if not all are more than willing to schedule review sessions if you ask.

Another key support mechanism is your study team. We deliberately develop the study teams in a way that balances the skills within each team. You should never hesitate to ask a teammate for help. In fact, it is likely that being helped by a teammate benefits your teammate as much if not more than it benefits you. Without a doubt, the best way to master something is to teach it to someone else.

A third support mechanism is our Student Affairs team. As many of you already know, our Student Affairs team can advise you on all the resources that are available to support you. Whether the issue is as simple as finding a tutor to something as complex as getting advice on strategies to deal with a learning disability our Student Affairs team is equipped to direct you to the resources that are available. For example, Student Affairs maintains a list of tutors for each course in the MA Program. We also may be able to help with the cost of obtaining a tutor for students in financial need. Finally, while on the topic of tutors I should point out that I generally recommend you first utilize your instructors and study teams and rely on tutors as a last resort.

As you all now know, the MA Program is a rigorous and challenging program. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are struggling, I encourage you to proactively take full advantage of the mechanisms that we have put in place to support you. And the earlier you seek help, the better positioned we are to assist you. Finally, I welcome your suggestions for additional services we can provide to better support you.

~Scott Shafer

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yes, Networking is a Form of Work

Yes, you can get sunburn in the middle of November. And naturally I did not get my face toasted by the sun holed up in my room pouring through my OB articles or crushing Excel for my next quant case. Those will be top of mind as I pull late nights from now until Wednesday.

For now, I want to emphasize the importance of stepping away from the coursework. Clearing your head is a necessary process, even if it creates a tighter rush to meet deadlines later down the road. This is an interesting time for Wake Forest sports as we transition from football season (hoping for better luck next year) into a promising basketball campaign. Friday night, I was invited to join several classmates to watch the men’s basketball team start their season against Oral Roberts. Great game and a win! 76-56

Saturday’s football game was less gratifying if the only criterion was the final score. This team has shown flashes of potential only to fall short so many times down the stretch.

What I have seen as the best opportunity from these events has been a time to connect with classmates and bond with members of my team in ways that would be inconceivable in our classroom setting. You get to hear about their backgrounds, current situations, and long-term objectives. You find common ground and you discover areas where bonds can be strengthened even further. It has been a terrific chance to work on networking.

There is more than just sports. I was able to assemble a team of evening students to compete in the first annual Schools of Business trivia contest last weekend at Waldo’s Wings. Hot wings, cold beer, and five rounds of trivia (with no questions dealing in accounting, OB, or quant)! Slowly but surely I will meet my goal of getting to know each of my 38 classmates on a personal level.

(Oh, our team finished 5th in the competition but we will be playing more trivia in coming weeks.)

There are going to be plenty of opportunities to spend more time with these folks over the next two years. We’re already planning on having colleagues make the “lengthy” trek to Greensboro to check out the restaurants offered by the neighboring city. The underlying message is that you must strike a balance between studies and socializing. Both will be an integral part of career development during the MBA or MA program and a major part of networking and upward mobility on the other side of graduate school.

Game on!

~ Paul Davis

Evening students mingling at semester-end event at Foothills Brewery downtown.

Happy Thoughts

Good Day world,

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I am taking a break from my Quantitative Methods mid-term to give you some updates on life at Wake Forest.

As usual, I'll be brief, so don't blink or else you'll miss it (haha). Ready? Set ... Go!
  • Veterans' Day just passed and we still had to come to class, but I wasn't sore over it. On this day I was particularly proud of my teammate Andy (Pip) Rinehart who is himself a war veteran and has quickly become one of the coolest people I know. He is a great asset to my team and one of the many reasons I am grateful I find myself at Wake. I'm not the only one who appreciates this man's merits, however. You can follow him as a contributor to BusinessWeek's MBA blog - click here and enjoy!

  • Miracles and Blessings surround me daily (for instance, the fact that I'm feeling sane enough to take a break from my quant exam is a miracle - I promise you). I cannot attribute my most recent success to anything short of God's intervention and the good fortune to have awesome teammates. On Friday, November 6th Jasmine Smith (MD/MBA), Joy Fuller (MBA 2011) and I claimed 2nd place at Howard University's 14th Annual MBA Exclusive Case Competition, hosted by LMI Consulting! Yay God! This 2nd place is a step above Wake Forest's performance the prior year (we claimed 3rd place in 2008, and 1st place in 2007), so I like to think that we are working our way back up the ranks and I cannot wait to go back next year and bring home the win! Thank you Howard University & LMI for this opportunity and congratulations to the MIT Sloan-Kettering School of Business for their 1st place win and Rutgers University for taking home 3rd.

I don't know any other way to express how I feel other than "happy." I am challenged to grow on a daily basis, I'm always learning new ways to function in a team environment, I have brilliant classmates, and God continues to grant me his grace and mercy in marvelous ways.

I hope life is treating you well, world. I'll try to be back with more updates soon - there's always something!

Copious Peace & Blessings

~Ahkesha Murray

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Making the Right Connections

“It’s not what you know … it’s who you know.” Words from my father I overlooked as a teenager like most kids who ignored advice from their parents. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to understand the meaning of this common phrase. After repeatedly applying to online job postings and failing to get responses from employers, I realized I had to do something to separate myself from the other 15,000 people who are flooding PR firms with fancy resumes and perfectly written cover letters.
It all begins with networking. What is networking? How do I do it? Can I send an email or is better to call? Who in the company should I try to speak with about my interest? These are all questions I had for the Career Management staff.
They suggested I start by finding older executives whose career path interested me. When I meet with these executives, the Career Management Center said I should find a shared interest to make the conversation easier for both of us and then help them understand my career interest.
I found this instruction quite effective as I “networked” with two local executives last week. First, I met with an Account Manager at a creative advertising agency, who I immediately connected with because she handled the public relations for the firm. We spent most of the time discussing how and where I should start my career.
We also focused on what I should highlight in interviews and how I can broaden my skill base. She offered great advice about making my resume and portfolio stronger, suggesting I add letters of recommendation from previous employers. The other executive is a Vice President for a large advertising agency who offered a different prospective. He discussed the exciting facets of working for an agency but reminded me of the competitive and challenging aspects I could potentially encounter. For example, if the agency loses a single account then who ever worked on that account could likely lose their job. On the contrary, a corporate environment is one massive account, so there is more job security and room for advancement.
While building upon these new relationships, I’m finding great value in maintaining contact with previous employers and professors as well. I’ve always kept in touch with these individuals because I had great friendships and mentor experiences with them, but it wasn’t until recently I started leveraging these relationships to help me in my career search. Supervisors from my previous undergraduate internships have been great about editing my resume and quantifying the work I did with them. They’ve read through tons of resumes, so they know what drives employers crazy and what intrigues them to request an interview. My mentor from UF gladly reviews applications and essays before I submit them and sends me information about positions she thinks may interest me. More than anything, theses previous employers and mentors know my talents and limitations. Their honestly has helped me realize what strengths I should emphasize and what weakness to develop.
Through trial and error, I’ve quickly learned that applying to jobs via the web and mass distributing my resume isn’t as effective as targeting contacts in my desired industry and pitching myself to those individuals. I submitted my resume online to about 20 companies and received very few responses. However, every connection I’ve made through networking has led to a phone interview or lunch meeting with another executive. With each additional conversation, I feel closer to reaching the right person who will hear my story, feel my passion, grasp the depth of my curiosity and be willing to take a risk on an extremely teachable and highly qualified candidate.
~ Lauren Collins

Analyzing Your Resume Artistically

I had my first appointment today with Eric Chaiken, the career counselor for the Evening MBA program, who gave me numerous pointers for improving my resume and reaching out to potential employers. I promised not to give away all of his secrets, but this one was so fascinating and innovative that I have to share it.
Eric took me to Wordle, where he had me cut and paste my resume into a open box. Strange request, I thought, because the site seems more about creating abstract art. After submitting the information, the site produced an interesting representation of my professional and academic career. The most frequently used words are larger, giving a great visual on what I have elected to emphasize. I was amazed at what a great barometer I was seeing!
The Wake Forest student blog would like to see the practical artists we have in the business schools. Play around with it and have fun. Then email your Worldle creations to and show that MBAs and MAs can produce some amazing visual works!

Is it break yet?

Things sure are busy in Winston-Salem! It's been almost a month since my last post, and for that I apologize. We were told by the second year students that this time of year is the busiest. They weren't kidding! It seems each week we've got a final, a project, or some mix of both. We've finished two courses so far, Managerial Economics and Management Communications. This weekend we write our case final for Quantitative Methods, then take that final exam Monday. On Tuesday, our accounting projects are due. Next Monday and Tuesday, our accounting and finance exams. Then we have a break for Thanksgiving, then as soon as we get back, our main project for Organizational Behavior is due, followed quickly by a marketing final. Phew!

On top of that, we still have regular classes, complete with pop quizzes and lengthy readings. My advice to any prospective student: invest in a comfortable chair and some good lighting. Your eyes and back will thank you! The quiz count this week is three so far, with another one to come tomorrow. I wouldn't say this was an abnormal week, but definitely a trying one. With all these projects and exams and classes coming to a head, things feel at a bursting point. I keep telling myself, December isn't far away!

In other news, things continue to progress on other fronts. Various groups continue to meet and discuss issues and trips. The Wine Club had a rousing meeting where we tasted various new world reds. The Marketing Summit team continues to plan and strategize for this year's event. Project Nicaragua has selected its group for the January trip. The international trips have been announced and people are excited to figure out where they want to go next May. Football season is about to end, but the Demon Deacon basketball team is set to begin!

It's definitely a period of change right now. The weather is changing. The leaves have packed up and headed closer to terra firma. Some classes are ending, others are beginning. We are nearly one quarter of the way through our MBA, and it feels like just yesterday we started this crazy adventure!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Thought for the Day

I really love my school. An integrated program works wonders. Also, being a student as an adult has been much more interesting than undergrad, simply because of the quality of shared experiences. I’m learning that not only can I not do it all on my own, but other people's experiences and perspectives are oftentimes a huge asset to problem-solving. I am growing every day and I LOVE MY LIFE!

~ Ahkesha Murray

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Whole New (Business) World

The past few weeks have been very busy for students in the Schools of Business! We’ve had numerous speakers and companies on campus that have provided our community with some really exciting perspectives of today’s business climate.

As an MA candidate, I am biased towards the outside world, in that I have yet to leave the comfortable cocoon of university life. Until recently, I wasn’t really focusing on the business community. 

The variety of speakers, spanning from industry panels, to corporate representatives, to presentations on leadership, to influential individuals within a specific field, has opened my eyes to the wider business community. They have forced me to step outside my comfort zone to consider the environment of the world I am attempting to enter in a few short months. I’m beginning to think outside of the box.

Andrew Robertson , CEO of BBDO Worldwide, was on campus recently and discussed BBDO’s work structure and value system. He also consented to a small roundtable discussion of which I was able to be a part. Very exciting! While his speech focused on BBDO, the roundtable was based upon questions we asked: about him, his career, his perspective, etc. He is such a strong personality, and it was an incredible opportunity to have him in such a small setting and to pick his brain about the current marketing community. 

We discussed how he decided upon Marketing (a story including an Engineering major and making friends at a local pub) as well as his opinions on the current Marketing world – such as his dislike of “buzz words” and his passion for the creativity involved in ads.

I also had the opportunity to attend a company session with PepsiCo where they unveiled a new internship program with Wake Forest’s business schools. To have such a well-known company working with our programs is a really neat chance to learn about and develop within the business community outside of the university.

Also, within the MA program the teams work with outside sponsors on various consulting projects and our first deadline is looming this week. My team will present for ISP, a local sales agency responsible for collegiate multimedia rights management. ISP also has strong ties to Wake in that its founder, Ben Sutton, worked with the university’s Athletic Department for years and is a well known Demon Deacon! The Action Learning Project, as its called, is a series of four smaller consulting projects ranging from talent management to data analysis to a larger project at the end of the year. We’re learning to deal with the pressure of a project deadline as well as multiple project deadlines within our classes. It’s been quite a couple of few weeks!

On another note, I’ve been enjoying the cultural opportunities at Wake, having had the chance to see Sonnets for an Old Century this weekend – a wonderful play by José Rivera (right) , put on by Wake Forest University’s Theatre Department.

So life is balancing out, and I’m learning to focus on life outside of the university as I’m planning on joining it in a few short months. … Oh, my.
~ Jen Ratliff

Director’s Corner – A Focus on Job Placement

As you go through your program, you are likely spending a considerable amount of time and energy looking and preparing for a job or an internship. Doing those searches, in addition to managing your coursework, can be a daunting task, especially under the current economic conditions. The aim of this message is to highlight some of the initiatives that we are pursuing to ease the burden of your search and increase the likelihood of your success.

First, as you may know, we have made (and continue to make) considerable investments in our graduate Career Management Center (CMC). We have dedicated career counselors for our MBA and MA programs and will hire a dedicated MSA counselor soon (to support the accounting faculty who manage the recruiting process).

We are also expanding our corporate relations team to increase our on-campus recruiting activity and, more importantly, pursue innovative placement strategies that will allow us to match job opportunities with students in a targeted fashion (outside the traditional on-campus recruiting process). Finally, to enhance the reach and effectiveness of our corporate outreach, as of this year we are working with the University’s placement office to share resources and to provide a single-point of contact to recruiters. These changes are already having a positive impact on our ability to bring recruiters to our campus.

In addition to the above enhancements, we are investing resources in two other areas: career/professional development curricula and our executive partners program. Our CMC and E&Y center teams have formulated comprehensive professional development programs to prepare you for your job/internship search. Our MSA students are receiving professional training from our E&Y center. Our MA and first-year MBA students are going through a new CMC curriculum this year. Our 2nd year MBA students experienced several of its components last year and are receiving the new elements during one-on-one meetings with their counselors.

We are currently working on delivering similar programs to the MSAs and to the working professional MBA students who need it. The positive feedback that we are receiving from our corporate partners on the impact of the new preparation programs is strong. If you are not in the 1st year MBA and MA programs and wish to experience the new CMC curriculum, please visit our CMC office and ask that you meet with one of our career counselors. I expect that you will find the new curriculum to be both challenging and rewarding.

Our executive partners program is a new initiative that aims to create the best student mentoring program in the nation. The program will pair-up each student with a seasoned executive in a mentoring relationship. Each participant (student and mentor) will be interviewed prior to joining the program to understand his/her needs. Mentors and students will be matched using a computerized system and the data collected during the interviews. Both the students and the mentors will be guided as they go through the mentoring relationship. We will begin rolling out the mentoring program to our MA students in January and to our other programs between August 2010 and August 2011. For more information on the program and its benefits, please click here, or contact Hansford Johnson.

I recognize that each one of you has different career needs and interests. I also understand that the relevance of the above initiatives will differ across programs. We are working intensely to ensure that you are receiving effective career preparation and coaching, and have access to opportunities that will make your job placement successful. The early results so far indicate that we are making good progress. Our MSA program is concluding a very successful internship and full-time placement season. Our full-time MBA placement this summer was strong compared to the market (three months after graduation, we placed a higher proportion of students than many top schools, including Duke, UNC/Chapel Hill, UCLA, Wharton, and SMU). While this is a challenging time and jobs are hard to find, we are working on achieving high placement results for all of our first and second year full-time MBA and MA students along with unemployed students in our MSA and working-professional programs.

For those of you who are still looking for employment/internship opportunities, we will continue to focus on your placement until you are successful. Until that happens, our work is not done.

~ Charles Iacovou

Monday, November 2, 2009

Director’s Corner – First-Year Focus

We’re already into November! I can’t believe how fast the semester is flying by! Many of you mentioned to me that you feel like you’re in a whirlwind of activity, barely putting out one fire (read: deliverable) before a new fire starts.

The cynical part of me says “welcome to graduate school.” The realistic part of me says, “I understand. I feel that way too! There are not enough hours in the day.”

When I reflect on my graduate school experience, I remember feeling the way you do. I could barely grasp a concept or contemplate a new method before the professors were moving on to the next subject. Several of you have told me that you don’t feel as though the knowledge is sinking in. You fear you are not learning anything because you are being exposed to so much.

My advice: “keep the faith.” You don’t realize how much you’re learning because you haven’t had the chance to go out and apply it. Each summer, when the classrooms are empty and the halls are not lined with students waiting for Jon Pinder, I get emails from students working in their internships. I know my colleagues receive these emails too, where students are telling us how they’ve had a chance to apply what they’ve learned in our classes. Those emails are very fulfilling to my colleagues and me because we realize that we have taught you something useful and this validates our efforts. But it also sends a message to you that all the hard work from your first year is paying off. These tools in your tool box are actually being used and they are actually useful! You impressed your boss and it felt good!

At this time of the school year, things are very hectic and stressful. There will be other crazy periods as well. At these times, it is important to remember to keep the faith. I realize that it’s very easy to say and very hard to do, but I’m asking you to trust me on this and I’ll look forward to receiving your email over the summer!

~ Sherry Moss

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Andrew Robertson Talks Leadership at Wake

Andrew Robertson, the president and CEO of BBDO Worldwide, was a featured presenter Oct. 29 as part of the Wake Forest University Schools of Business Leadership Speaker Series.
Anyone who missed this creative talent should catch the video. Click here to see the entire presentation.