By Stephanie Skordas, Sr. Associate Director, Communications
Young professionals gathered in Farrell Hall at the School of Business on July 7 to meet their classmates, professors and other support staff of the Master of Arts in Management (MA) program. The Class of 2017 represents 75 colleges and universities with 45 liberal arts, science and engineering majors in the mix. This year more than half the incoming class had an international learning experience, such as a study abroad program.
These numbers represent a major leap from the program’s start ten years ago.
“We started off with a class size of 13 students. To walk in on the first day of orientation and see 151 students, that’s quite remarkable,” said Associate Dean Scott Shafer, who helped launch the program. “It’s great to be with the MA program again. I always felt the MA program was my baby, so it’s great to have the opportunity to make an impact on these students again.”
The MA program’s stellar reputation has helped it grow exponentially since the fall of 2006 into one of the oldest and largest pre-experience graduate programs of its kind in the United States. Now it attracts students from around the globe, who find Wake Forest through research or referral from their undergraduate institutions. More and more frequently, it is through personal recommendation from our MA alumni.
Kai Payne, who earned his history degree at Bates College in Maine, and Emely Reyna, who graduated with a degree in political science from Columbia University in New York, had the same two-word answer when asked how they heard about the program: Charmaine Charmant.
For her cousin Payne, and friend Reyna, the enthusiastic recommendation from Charmant (MA ’16) helped them decide to join the program.
“She told me about the focus on career readiness with everyone here really ready to embrace students and their business goals, help develop their personal brands, and really hit the workforce running,” Reyna said.
For Payne, the faculty were a big draw. “She raved about the professors here, which is something I take very seriously and that’s very important to me, having come from a small liberal arts college,” said Payne. “So when she stressed that they were really invested in my development as well as my classmates, that really pushed me into applying.”
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That development is a hallmark of the MA program, said Executive Director Michael Abhulimen. “We focus on coaching to enhance professional development and foster academic success. We are proud that our alumni recommend the program to their friends and family.”
The 10-month program begins with several days of orientation, introducing students to the program, which has been specifically designed to leverage their undergraduate studies with applied business knowledge. Sessions include introductions to faculty members, career resources, and educational concepts woven through the curriculum to create honorable, professional, impactful graduates with a global mindset.
In teams assigned at orientation, the students will complete two action learning projects. These projects connect alumni with our MA students, offering opportunities to apply classroom concepts to solve real-world business challenges. The organizations receive fresh ideas and new solutions, while the students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to strengthen their skills, experience and confidence. An added benefit is the opportunity to leverage the diversity of thought and backgrounds to further develop high-performing teams.
“Each team has five different majors on it,” said Kaitlyn Cooper, assistant director of integrative student services for the MA program. “With all these different backgrounds, we are excited to see their strengths come together in new and unique ways.”
After four days of orientation, students begin their summer schedule. These courses offer perspective on the role business plays in society, business analytics, accounting and business communication. One course focuses exclusively on career management to prepare resumes, practice interviews, and learn about career opportunities through industry panel discussions. It’s not a minute too soon. The busy fall recruiting season kicks off with the Fall Career Fair September 14, which attracts major employers to campus.