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Thinking Outside the Box

April 28, 2004

Graduate students face tough challenges when entering the job market. Among them, how do they differentiate themselves from other candidates? This semester, at Bentley's Graduate Center for Career Services (GCCS), students have tested several new innovative and unique programs.

"We think it's important for students to have a suite of activities that will help them develop superior skills to compete in the job marketplace," said John Sims, director of the Graduate Center for Career Services. "With all of our program offerings, we need to have a variety of skills development workshops to accommodate our diverse portfolio of students."

While GCCS has had numerous programs this year, here's a brief sampling:

Stand Out in a Crowd
Ever wonder how to feel more comfortable during a job interview? Improvisational theater exercises can help. To further increase students' ability to express creativity and leadership, GCCS welcomed to campus Future Stages, a team of professional consultants, actors, managers and educators that uses scenes, role plays, and other performance tools to help students communicate with confidence, credibility, clarity, and conviction.

"Everything you do is expressed through your body. We're helping to make things conscious," said Sheree Galpert, co-founder and principal of Future Stages. "We're in the realm of things you already know, but aren't consciously aware of. Specifically, what you do with your body, voice and mental images."

The group, recommended by Dean of Arts and Sciences Kate Davy, guided students through a variety of exercises aimed at building critical and creative thinking in business environments.

"There were a lot of general pieces of advice and information that I found helpful throughout the workshop," said Robert Nodine, a Master of Science in IT student. "The exercises were great for improving my internal and external awareness. They also helped me to gain a better perspective on how individuals perceive one another."

MarketingPalooza
In conjunction with the Graduate Marketing Organization, GCCS hosted "MarketingPalooza", a day-long event in Boston where students met with leaders at three companies: Cone, who specializes in public relations, cause-branding and crisis management; Boston Duck Tours, the popular land-water city tour company; and Chadwick Martin Bailey, a leading market research firm.

"This is a unique way to expose students to different careers and different companies, and complements our on-campus 'Lunch & Learn' series," said Randi Bussin, assistant director of the Graduate Center for Career Services. "We're trying to be unique in our approach and take them on company visits more often."

Bob Schwartz, marketing and sales coordinator at Boston Duck Tours, said his job incorporates not only marketing, but public relations, advertising, and networking.

"The majority of my job is networking," he said. "In tourism, networking is marketing."

Anne Bailey Berman, president of Chadwick Martin Bailey, said her company is always looking for new ways to do things, but they live by one standard rule.

"We treat all clients equally," she said. "We offer solutions. We don't provide problems."

Six-Minute Networking
You've heard of speed dating, correct? GCCS introduced students to the world of speed networking. Ten Bentley Marketing students and ten Bentley alumni participated in this pilot event in the Art Gallery. The sessions were broken up into six-minute rounds, and students practiced everything from elevator pitches to posture and delivery. Alumni participants came from a wide range of marketing-related jobs.

"This gave students a chance to meet a number of people, some of whom they'll hopefully make a connection with," said Associate Director of the Graduate Center for Career Services Barbara Hyle, who developed the program along with Alumni Career Advisor Susan Brennan. "The students also get a better sense of the types of jobs available."

After each individual session, the alumni participants filled out evaluation forms to help give feedback about the students. Several alumni also indicated that they would be interested in meeting with the students again to continue their career planning and job search strategy.

Behind the Scenes
A group of students also paid a visit to The Boston Globe headquarters. In addition to a tour of the newspaper's production facilities, they dined with Yasmin Namini, senior vice president of circulation and senior vice president, consumer marketing for the New England Newspaper Group. Ms. Namini talked about her past- she began her career as a part-time telemarketer for the Baltimore Sun- and patience in career advancement. She also stressed education, experience and the importance of relationships.

"Don't underestimate the value of these people you meet along the way," she said. "It's really about relationship-building."

Career Research Workshop Goes Online
How do you reach students who aren't here during normal school and business hours? GCCS hosted a career research workshop, "The Importance of Research in the Career Planning Process" using Centra distance learning software, where students logged in from work or home and participated online.

"Those students who work during the day can't always make it to campus, so this is an effective way to reach them," said Audra Boni, associate director of the Graduate Center for Career Services and workshop moderator.

Using a Tablet PC, she brought the presentation to life using mark up tools, polling features and the whiteboard to share and highlight information and retain the interest of the participants. Facilitators and participants wear headsets with microphones, so they can verbally communicate with one another. The Centra program also includes a public text chat as well as icons to enable the students to raise their hands to ask a question, laugh, applaud, and provide 'yes' and 'no' responses for when the facilitator asks questions.

Futures in Finance
GCCS and the Hughey Center for Financial Services partnered to present a "Careers in Finance" workshop in the Trading Room.

Industry leaders from Fidelity Investments and Sovereign Bank came to campus and spoke to students pursuing a Master of Science in Corporate Finance, Master of Science in Global Financial Analysis and MBA in Finance. The small setting provided students with an excellent opportunity to learn more about these firms as well as the skills, traits and experience they are looking for in their next generation finance executives.

Taking Shape
Planning on the front end allows these events to come to fruition.

"We believe we think outside the box- after we do the appropriate due diligence inside the box," said Sims. "There's a lot of basic groundwork to be done- we do the fundamentals well- then we go outside the box to get the maximum value from our students."

All of these opportunities, however, would not take place without overall department support.

"Getting support from the top allows us to experiment in our creative thinking," said Bussin. "There's a lot more willingness to try new things, and we're focusing more on building skills. You don't want to lecture students on how to do an interview. You want to get them to practice doing it."

"This office is very innovative," adds Boni. "Management here has a very broad view and a very deep passion for the students. It's important for us to provide students with these unique opportunities."

Among the upcoming events GCCS has planned are a career Boot Camp, dance theater, and more speed networking.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu

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