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Penn State Smeal MBA Program's First-Year Orientation Jumpstarts B-School Experience

While most University Park students were just returning to campus, first-year Penn State Smeal MBA students were competing in a Chevron-sponsored case competition, already testing knowledge gained during their first two weeks on campus.
September 10, 2013

The M B A Orientation case competition's winning team
Chevron's Kira Haynes (left) with the winning team of the Penn State Smeal MBA orientation case competition, sponsored by Chevron.

While most University Park students were just returning to campus, first-year Penn State Smeal MBA students were competing in a Chevron-sponsored case competition, already testing knowledge gained during their first two weeks on campus.

The Penn State Smeal MBA Program’s two-week orientation prior to the first day of classes is a rigorous re-introduction to the classroom that includes several pre-term sessions including accounting and communications.

“What’s unique about Smeal is the career focus right away. We do a lot of work in preparation to face recruiters." --Matthew Marshall, MBA Association president

“The orientation was overwhelming but informational,” said Tiffani Guerre, a first-year MBA student who also attended Penn State for her undergraduate degree in management information systems. “It really set the pace for the program.”

In addition, the agenda was infused with a focus on careers and preparation for the recruitment process.

“What’s unique about Smeal is the career focus right away,” explained second-year student Matthew Marshall, who went through the orientation last year and helped conduct this year’s programming as the MBA Association president. “We do a lot of work in preparation to face recruiters. That first interaction could happen as early as the first week of classes.”

Students learn about what recruiters expect, what a resume should look like, how to get the most out of a company information session, and more.

“When we present ourselves as Smeal students, there’s a certain brand that goes along with that. We want recruiters to know what to expect when they come to Smeal,” Marshall said.

Additional activities give the student cohort a chance to get to know each other and start forging bonds with their teammates, including a day of activities at Tussey Mountain focusing on leadership and teambuilding.

“In almost every class, you’ll have a team project to work on, and your academic success doesn’t depend solely on you,” said Marshall.

The case competition was the final event of the two-week orientation. In teams, students analyzed a case and presented recommendations to a panel of faculty members and Penn State Smeal MBA Program staff. Competition finalists presented a second time to a panel including Chevron’s Kira Haynes, recruiting coordinator for corporate procurement.

“The case competition was a great way to jump into work with our teams,” Guerre said.

She continued, “The whole orientation was a great experience. I’m glad they have it so we can adjust to campus and getting back into the classroom.”

About the Penn State Smeal MBA Program
The internationally ranked residential MBA Program of the Smeal College of Business is focused on positioning students for their future careers. The two-year program begins with a focus on business fundamentals. Through a summer internship and elective courses, students then personalize their Penn State Smeal MBA experience to align with their career aspirations.

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