Preparing students to be career-readyReading Time: 8 minutes
A cornerstone of the University of Florida Heavener School of Business is preparing students for careers as soon as they commence. Heavener’s combination of academic excellence, networking opportunities, international experiences, academic advisement, as well as career and leadership development programs set our students apart when they enter the workforce.
Leadership and career development programs build professionalism in students through like-minded peers and leaders. Coupling that with career-services, like those provided by the Business Career Services office, our students are not only prepared to be outstanding professionals, but also secure careers they are passionate about.
“With the establishment of the Business Career Services (BCS) department, this year in the Heavener School of Business, we will see many more of our Business Gators transitioning to roles in the private sector. BCS provides one on one customized career coaching and a host of career development tools to ensure greater placement success.
Freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to meet regularly with BCS trained students who are part of the Career and Academic Peer (CAP) Mentor program. CAPs assist students with resume construction and provide assistance in establishing initial internship objectives.
In order to leverage their internship experiences and expand their overall career strategy, all juniors and seniors are assigned a dedicated career coach. BCS career coaches are subject matter experts in both the private sector and within the University. Coaches often partner with employers as well, ensuring that our students receive career planning upon arrival that is germane to the job market.
With the addition of the BCS team in Heavener more placements like the ones referenced in this article are forthcoming. This is an exciting time to be a Business Gator.”
– Michelle Bloom-Lugo, Director of Undergraduate Business Career Services.
Read about how the UF Heavener School of Business at the Warrington College of Business prepared graduates Sochima Mbadugha, Michelle Kunz, Mateo Galvis and Adriana Gurdian for their positions at Boston Consulting Group, Macy’s, Google and Accenture.
Sochima “Sochi” Mbadugha
Since her freshman year at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Sochima “Sochi” Mbadugha has been heavily involved in the career and leadership programs offered at the Heavener School of Business.
As a member of Florida Women in Business, Florida Leadership Academy, Warrington Diplomats, and Career and Academic Peer (CAP) Mentors, she’s learned the value of accountability, proactivity, and mentorship, the latter of which she credits for her college career success.
“My mentor gave me this advice, ‘Start with the end in mind. You came to UF to get a job that you’re excited about, so go do that,’” she said. “We get so caught up in what others are doing, it can feel like you’re not doing enough, but it’s about aligning what you’re passionate about and your strengths with companies. Passion can’t be faked.”
Mbadugha’s passion for finance, which she will graduate with a degree in this December, is among the things that helped her secure a position as an associate at Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Atlanta office. In her role, she will act as a strategic advisor for clients, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and helping them overcome business challenges.
She admits the interview process was daunting, but she felt fully prepared thanks to her education at Heavener and lots of practice.
“We’re used to having pre-canned [interview] answers, but this was a case interview, which forces you to think on your feet,” she said. “I did a lot of practice with my friend who attends another university via Skype.”
Mbadugha is grateful for her time at Heavener and how her involvement in career and leadership programs equipped her to be confident in a professional environment, especially CAP Mentors, and Warrington Diplomats, the official student ambassadors of the Warrington College of Business.
“As a CAP Mentor, I felt prepared to help mentor students, but each day and each student was different,” she said. “Working with different students was challenging but it helped me become a creative and effective thinker. The public speaking aspect of Warrington Diplomats also made me quick on my feet.”
As a student who exemplifies the kind of success Heavener prides itself on, Mbadugha has practical advice for how new students can have similar success.
“Be proactive,” she said. “There are so many resources available to you – CAPs, Business Career Services – they can help you find what opportunities are out there. Also, be humble. Recognize that you don’t know everything, and it’s in your best interest to take advice and apply it to yourself.”
Michelle Kunz knows what it means to be proactive. The senior marketing major graduating this December learned early on during her time at the Heavener School of Business that thinking out of the box and exploring different opportunities would help make her successful. Even if that meant not always following her original plan.
“When I first came to UF, I was torn between marketing and advertising,” she said. “I love branding, especially fashion branding, so I initially thought I wanted advertising, but I ultimately decided on marketing because I knew it would give me a strong business foundation.”
Since then, Kunz has added on a minor in retail leadership and mass communications, both of which have helped her pursue her passion of fashion.
“Fashion has always been something that I loved, but I never thought it was something I could get a career in,” she said.
It wasn’t until Kunz discovered the Warrington College of Business’ Miller Retail Center that she realized she could make a career out of her love of style.
Kunz was a member of the first Retail You! forum, a development program for freshmen and sophomores designed to prepare students for retail internships and careers, and received the YMA Fashion Scholarship Award two consecutive years in a row, the only Gator to ever do so.
The first year she received the YMA scholarship, she traveled to New York City and completed an internship at Global Brands Group, one of the world’s leading branded fashion accessories, footwear, and apparel companies. Its portfolio includes brands like Calvin Klein, Under Armour, and Juicy Couture.
“[The Global Brands Group] internship gave me so much confidence,” she said. “When I came back [from NYC], I felt so different, but in the best possible way.”
That confidence translated to her other leadership positions at Heavener as a CAP Mentor and Florida Leadership Academy (FLA) Mentor, helping her make a positive influence on her mentees.
“I want to be proof that you can set your mind to something and do it,” she said.
Kunz is indeed proof of that. In March 2018, she will start in her dream industry of fashion at retail powerhouse Macy’s in its Omni Merchant Planning Executive Development program. She credits her time at Heavener and its programs for helping attain her goals.
“The biggest thing Heavener taught me is the power of networking,” she said. “It’s true about what they say, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Our ability to connect with others is what sets us, as Heavener students, apart.”
Mateo Galvis is a man with a plan – one that he’s had since he first came to the University of Florida Warrington College of Business.
The Masters of International Business student, who will graduate this December, having already completed his undergraduate degree in finance this past spring, has made sure to keep his long-term goals in mind throughout his time at Warrington.
“One of the things that made me succeed, and what I suggest to other students, is to be intentional about everything they do while at UF,” he said. “Some people do things for the sake of doing them, but you need to have long-term goals. If you’re not intentional and don’t have the steps in place, then you can’t complete your vision.”
In Galvis’ case, being intentional about his involvement helped him secure the Business Development Consultant position he will start after graduation at Google’s Dublin offices.
“At Heavener, we’re taught to open up to new opportunities and try new things,” he said. “If you want to gain new opportunities, then you have to look for them and put your best foot forward.”
Galvis kept that lesson in mind and strategically took advantage of the opportunities that came his way. From helping Heavener’s International Case Competition team win first place at a prestigious case competition in New Zealand, to going from a mentee to mentor in Florida Leadership Academy, to helping found Actualize, a student organization that promotes emotional intelligence, to turning the student organization Christian Business Leaders into a 501(c)(3) organization, among others, Galvis has made the most out of the opportunities presented to him at Heavener.
“Some opportunities and experiences seem so distant to me now, but Heavener really allowed me to build from the bottom up,” he said. “Each of these developed me personally and professionally, giving me the tools to take the next step to success.”
Another key element of Heavener’s student organizations that helped Galvis achieve his goals is the fact that the organizations are led by students, allowing him to connect with others, build his network and become a stronger mentor.
“You don’t have to only partake in what the school provides for you,” he said. “You can pave a new path for yourself and the school is supportive of that. It’s cool that you’re facilitated to go and explore different opportunities, but you’re able to make your own opportunities as well.”
For Galvis, the opportunities Heavener provided, along with his own pursuit for success, have indeed helped him achieve all he set out to accomplish during his college journey.
Adriana Gurdian has long heard the tagline associated with the University of Florida’s extensive alumni network – The Gator Nation is everywhere.
It wasn’t until she was looking for the first job she would begin after graduating in December with a degree in marketing from UF’s Heavener School of Business that she would truly understand the phrase.
“I thought [The Gator Nation is everywhere] was kind of cheesy, but now I understand the true power of it,” she said. “UF and Heavener really do create a culture of helping others out.”
Gurdian credits her involvement in student organizations and programs at Heavener like Enactus and the Retail Society with helping her build a strong network – one that would later assist her securing a position as a consulting analyst in Accenture’s San Francisco office.
“I think to be successful at Heavener you need to be friendly with everyone,” she said. “Meeting as many people as possible helps you build a network and really does make a large university feel smaller.”
Not only was Gurdian able to connect with Gator’s who currently work at Accenture, she was also able to use the networking abilities she learned at Heavener to help her connect with a recruiter at the management consulting company at Career Showcase.
“Getting involved was really the best thing for me,” she said. “I wouldn’t have received the skills I needed [to succeed] without doing so.”
Gurdian also credits getting involved early on in her college career with allowing her to build her best possible self.
“I was afraid to apply for leadership roles as a freshman, but I learned how to be a leader by having those experiences,” she said.
The most beneficial lesson for Gurdian, though, was learning how to fail.
“I think the most valuable thing I learned at Heavener was don’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “I would think that some of my ideas were great, but then things wouldn’t work out the way I had planned. It helped me build character and learn to be humble. Companies want to hear stories about your failures and how you were able to overcome them.”