Students Offer Guidance Counselors a Taste of Business Studies at Stevens

Undergrads Share Travel, Entrepreneurship Experiences with Audience

12/13/2013

This is what you get at the Howe School when you invite a half-dozen undergraduate students to host a panel discussion.

You get entrepreneurs who run their companies alongside their course loads. A world traveler whose studies have taken her to 10 countries. International learners who've secured internships halfway through their freshman years and who come to terms with employers months before registering for their senior design courses.

For the more than 100 high school guidance counselors attending Shrimp Fest, the variety of experiences gave them something besides shrimp to chew on.

The event offers those counselors an evening of shrimp and wine, paired with the main course — a chance to hear from students as to why they chose Stevens to study business.

For finance major Daniela Cardona, it was a case of love at first sight.

“I sent a million and one emails to (Student Faculty and Support Center manager) Michelle Crilly, because I wanted to come here. I really wanted to come here,” said Cardona, a freshman who’d just learned she’d secured an internship with a Hoboken research firm. “I didn’t want to go to a business school just for business. I wanted to come here because I knew I’d be in the perfect school to take a tech-based minor, or even a double major.”

MORE: A home away from home: How student support center creates success for undergrads

That was a familiar story for students on the panel. Junior Marques Brownlee, who runs MKBHD, a business producing highly popular tech videos hosted on YouTube, said the technology focus Howe brings to business is relevant to how he builds his company’s brand, particularly as he starts taking courses at the core of his business and technology major.

“The classes help out a lot,” Brownlee said, mentioning his Social Networks: A Marketing Perspective course in particular. “Having classes that will take situations from the real world and bring it down to the classroom level is very valuable.”

Another entrepreneur on the panel, Genevieve Finn, is the founder of Genevieve’s Crutches, a nonprofit that collects used crutches, decorates them and donates them, particularly to soldiers injured in combat.

Her business has attracted overwhelming support from faculty since enrolling in the Howe School, said Finn, a freshman studying business and technology.

“I walked in the door at Stevens and everyone wanted to help me,” she said. Career development staff helped her phrase the experience on her résumé, while professors work to expand her company’s reach through knowledge and networks.

“So many people here, they want you to succeed with all their body and being,” Finn said.

Expanded undergraduate offerings

Shrimp Fest offers Stevens a chance to showcase undergraduate programs for guidance counselors, who can then better inform high school students about the opportunities provided to students. Dr. Ann Murphy, associate dean of undergraduate studies for the Howe School, discussed the expansion of Howe’s undergraduate business offerings in the past few years.

Stevens undergrads now have a choice of seven majors to study: finance, business and technology, marketing, management, information systems, economics, and quantitative finance.

MORE: Detailed information about undergraduate business majors at Stevens

“This is far beyond what we had a few years ago,” Murphy said.

And those programs are distinct, she said, because of what Murphy called “our special sauce”: a focus on technology; rigorous studies that focus on practical applications; and the campus’ Hoboken location, close to industries of every flavor.

“If you look at the successful companies today … those companies all have leveraged their success through technology,” she said. Many of those companies, like UBS, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, also visit the campus to give guest lectures and hire Howe graduates.

The campus offers other advantages, such as the Hanlon Financial Systems Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering students access to Bloomberg data and the hardware and software used by traders and analysts on Wall Street. Large groups of guidance counselors took tours of the lab following the presentation.

One advantage of a Howe education’s global perspective is the emphasis on studying abroad. Jessica Spanier, a junior in the business and technology major, discussed how her travels — she took courses around the globe as part of the the Semester at Sea program over the summer — helped prepare her for situations that might have intimidated inexperienced students.

Spanier described a workshop at UBS that featured about 25 students from prestigious, nationally heralded schools like Harvard and Georgetown. But she had no problem standing out from the crowd.

“I was not intimidated at all,” she said. “In talking to people, you realize how much real-world experience you get through Stevens.”

Why Stevens

In a Q&A with guidance counselors, students on the panel were asked why they decided to attend Stevens. Here is a snapshot of their responses:

“When I looked at student life and post-graduate metrics, you see the really personalized attention you get at Stevens.” Jorge Riviera Reyes

“It was just really exciting to see students excited to welcome new students to the Stevens community.” Brandon Griffin

“I set foot on the campus and realized, ‘I’m supposed to be right here.” Jessica Spanier

“Stevens, from day one, was my first choice. You wake up to the city skyline every day; it’s just incredible.” Genevieve Finn

“I originally wanted to be in the city, but I like that this is a city of itself.” Daniela Cardona

“The fact that the business school was so strong was a big factor.” Marques Brownlee