By Michael Jacobs / firstname.lastname@example.org
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School might once have been the exclusive domain of the future titans of American finance and industry, but as anyone recovering from the April 15 income tax deadline might realize, the knowledge and skills involved in earning a bachelor of business administration degree can come in handy for just about anyone.
Three years ago, Goizueta came to the rescue of undergraduates making their way through the liberal arts and sciences at Emory College with the Summer Business Institute, an intensive three-week summer course that covers the basics of finance, marketing, management, career planning and other key business topics.
The six-credit program is for rising juniors and seniors outside the business school who want to be ready to hit the career ground running when they graduate. The institute ends the first week of June, leaving enough time for students to do other things, for work or fun, during the summer.
One product of the Summer Business Institute is Paula Levine, who is due to graduate from Emory in May with a film studies degree with a concentration in film and media management. Although Levine entered the institute last summer with a stronger business background than most of her classmates — her concentration includes nine Goizueta classes — she found the program attractive because “I was confident I would be using more of the business side in my career.”
The program covers the foundations of business in the morning, from business law and competitive analysis to Microsoft Excel. In the afternoons, the students focus on professional preparation with workshops on such essentials as résumés, cover letters, team building and networking.
“We really went over everything that I would have needed,” Levine said. She emphasized that the institute features Goizueta’s best professors.
The class includes a day for visits to companies. One of the stops for Levine’s class of about 15 students was Google, where they met with an Emory alum. Levine made a point to introduce herself at the end of the visit and follow up with a thank-you note, and now she has an advocate for her hiring inside Google.
The institute culminates in a group project. Each group has to develop and prepare to bring to market a product; a pitch meeting to investors concludes the course.
Levine’s group proposed a wearable sports band, like Fitbit but with the ability to measure static exercises such as pushups. It wasn’t a product she was excited about because she thought the market was saturated, but the project allowed her to practice her interpersonal skills as well as her new business knowledge.
Levine said the institute provided “everything that you would want to know going into a company like I’m going into so I can be part of the conversation about the business,” including a binder stuffed with information as an ongoing resource.
That business is ID.me, a startup in Washington, D.C., where she has interned the past two summers. The company, which grew out of a student project at Harvard Business School, provides instant identity verification in areas that are prone to fraud and identity theft, such as veterans’ benefits.
Levine will be a customer success executive managing a portfolio of accounts.
The young Jewish woman from Princeton, N.J., followed a brother who is 10 years older to Emory to play soccer and possibly pursue medicine as a career like her mother, but one semester of premed biology changed her mind.
“I think everybody who comes to Emory at first has in mind either business or medicine,” she said, but the liberal arts are a big part of its appeal for her and others.
An ankle injury her freshman year also ended her collegiate soccer career.
“It’s equivalent to losing your first love. It was really heartbreaking,” Levine said.
After taking a year off to regroup, Levine chose her major for its combination of practical, bankable skills and its creativity.
The Summer Business Institute helped hone those skills, she said. “It makes your liberal arts degree even more valuable when you’re trying to sell yourself” as a candidate to a company.