Electives: How to Choose Them

procBy Dr. Paulo Prochno, Clinical Professor, Department of Management and Organization

One of the strengths of the Smith School’s MBA program is our wide choice of elective courses. Among so many interesting options, it’s important to take a more strategic approach when choosing which courses to take. I bring here a few tips to help you in that process:

  1. Choosing between breadth and depth: one of the benefits of an MBA is the ability to develop a broad view about business. At the same time, your career prospects are enhanced if you know deeply about one area. The good news is that you can do both: you should choose one vertical and go really deep into that area, but at the same time take electives in other areas that will give you a broad strategic view about management. So my suggestion is: don’t try to go for depth in more than one area, so you can have enough credits to go for breadth as well. A balance of hard and soft skills is very important to make you a better professional.
  2. Asking for advice: ask your peers and faculty primarily about course content, so you can make a decision based on whether the content fits your desired career plans. Faculty teaching the core courses are a great resource to help you choose specific electives in their areas; PT MBA faculty directors can give you broader advice on how to approach the electives choice based on your career objectives, and can also direct more specific requests to other faculty.
  3. Increase your network: most participants in the PT program will remain in the area throughout their careers. Your years as an MBA student are a great opportunity to enhance your local network, so it makes a lot of sense to take at least one course in a different location. The extra commuting time is a small investment compared to the benefits of a broader network!

2015 Winter Study Abroad

By Lauren Beilin, Program Manager, Office of Global Initiatives

During winter break of 2015 the Robert H. Smith School of Business will be sending over 100 full-time and part-time MBA students on global business programs led by Smith faculty to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Santiago, Chile, and to Singapore and Tokyo. By participating in a short-term program abroad, students will be able to apply discipline-based knowledge acquired in the classroom to solve real-world problems faced by companies in a global business environment. The faculty-led short-term Global Business Programs are a 4-credit Smith Experience course series that are open to all 2nd year full-time and part-time MBA students. These programs include:

  • On-campus courses that prepare students pre-departure and upon re-entry
  • On-site company visits
  • On-site applied learning that will help students to immerse themselves into the host culture both within and outside of the business realm
  • Opportunities to collaborate effectively with people in or from a different cultural environment, specifically in negotiation, conflict resolution, management, and teamwork.

The short-term global business programs each have a different academic focus and travel to a wide variety of destinations. Students choose programs based on opportunities to develop expertise in their field of interest and based on the opportunity to network with colleagues, faculty and international company executives in their field. Also during the travel component of the program, through experiential and applied learning, students will have opportunities to immerse themselves into the host culture – for example by taking a cooking class to learn about local cuisine, participating in a service-learning project, or doing micro consulting with local students in the host city. Each Spring the Office of Global Initiatives announces the new program topics and destinations, which are subject to change each year.

Where are students going this Winter break?

Santiago, Chile – led by Professor Bennet Zelner with a focus on Chilean companies and their domestic and global expansion strategies.                                                                     Highlight: Visit to Kingston Vineyard where students will discuss export and marketing strategy for an entrepreneurial vineyard.

United Arab Emirates – led by Professor Hassan Ibrahim with a focus on mega-project management in the Middle East.                                                                                                     Highlight: Visit to the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development and the large real estate developer in Dubai, Nakheel Properties.

Singapore & Japan – led by Professor Martin Dresner with a focus on examining the similarities, strengths, and potential trouble spots for both Singapore and Japan’s economies.                                                                                                                                               Highlight: Visit the Singapore Stock Exchange and alongside MBA students from Waseda University in Tokyo, a visit to Walmart Japan. For more information visit the Office of Global Initiatives website. For questions please contact Lauren Beilin, Program Manager, at lbeilin@rhsmith.umd.edu

PTMBAA Warm Clothing Drive Recap

  #1 Shady Grove Campus                                           #2 Baltimore Campus

By Rahul Shah, VP of Community Development

This past November, the PTMBAA held a Warm Clothing Drive at all three satellite campuses. The objective was to collect warm clothes that would go on to benefit local families in need this winter. To make the donation drive more exciting, it was structured as a friendly competition among the cohorts! Each cohort had their own donation bin at their home campus. The cohort with the highest overall level of donations would be awarded $250 to their cohort budget, while the “Most Generous Cohort”, with highest average donations per student, would be awarded $100.

This initiative was a HUGE success and students contributed over 525 warm clothing items! This came out to 155 donations from DC, 180 from Baltimore and 190 from Shady Grove. Donation items included heavy winter jackets, light jackets, sweaters, blankets, gloves, hats scarves and more. These donations will no doubt go to those in need warm this winter, and more winters to come. Just think about how many hundreds of families will be more comfortable due to our student’s generosity.

Despite their size of only 29 students, the 1st Year Shady Grove cohort raised the most with a total of 119 donations! They also had the highest average donations, with 4.1 per student, and ended up sweeping the competition.

Due to the overwhelming participation, donations will be distributed to three wonderful organizations in order to hit the streets as quickly as possible – A Wider Circle, Community Touch, Inc. and Victory Outreach. All of these organizations have a proven track record of serving underserved communities all over Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia. The PTMBAA will also be holding a community service event with A Wider Circle this January so that students can witness first hand how their donations are utilized.

The PTMBAA would like to thank all students, track reps and MPO staff for their support, participation and leadership throughout the competition.

Top 5 Cohorts! (Overall donations)

  1. Shady Grove 1st Year – 119 donations
  2. Baltimore 2nd Year – 94 donations
  3. Baltimore 1st Year – 78 donations
  4. DC M/W 1st Year – 38 donations
  5. Shady Grove 3rd Year – 37 donations

Top 5 Most Generous Cohorts!

  1. Shady Grove 1st Year – 4.1 donations per student
  2. Baltimore 1st Year – 1.39 donations per student
  3. Baltimore 2nd Year – 1.32 donations per student
  4. DC Saturday 2nd Year – 1.08 donations per student
  5. Shady Grove 3rd Year – 0.77 donations per student

 

The Global Equity Fund goes to NYC

By Rahul Shah, VP of Community Development

On Thursday, November 6th, the Global Equity Fund made their annual trip to New York City. The Global Equity Fund is a student-run investment fund made up of 20 PT MBA and MFin students. For school credit, students manage $500,000 from the university’s endowment, investing in Global Equity ADR’s. We research companies, build valuation models and pitch investment opportunities to the team. The objective of the New York City trip was to meet with Asset Managers and other practitioners in the field of investments. It was a great learning experience that all members benefited from.

Taking an early train from Union Station, our first meeting was at BlackRock, the world’s largest investment firm. Students met with the Global Head of Event Driven Equity Strategies, Mark McKenna. This new division of BlackRock focuses on global events including M&A arbitrage, divestitures and management changes to lock in a profit. Mr. McKenna shared a presentation highlighting the investment strategy, historical returns and examples in practice that was very educational. We also discussed his professional career, starting as a Nuclear Engineer, and how his path led him to where he is today.

The next day, students woke up early and went to the New York Stock Exchange for the opening bell. We first met with John Tuttle, NYSE Head of Corporate Affairs, and learned about the history of the exchange. I was amazed to learn about how operations, the building and surrounding area had evolved since their inception in 1817. After the opening bell, students had the opportunity to speak with different market makers on the floor of the exchange. The market maker we spoke to explained her functioning role in the NYSE, how she carries out her tasks, and different challenges in her position. Having been on the floor for 20 years, she witnessed a lot – the rise of technology, multiple crashes, and a work force that went from 5,000 on the floor to less than 500.

After leaving the NYSE, students went to Annaly Capital Management, the largest Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trust firm in the world. We first received a presentation on this specific type of investment firm, learned about the mortgage securitization process and other aspects of the industry. We then met with multiple employees, including their Capital Markets Manager, Portfolio Manager, Head of MBS Trading and Chief Technology Officer. It was very interesting to get such a broad perspective on their operations. We were also able to ask questions and received great tips on how to advance our professional careers in investments.

Overall, it was a very educational weekend. I met with top practitioners in the field, built a stronger relationship with my fellow Global Equity Fund members and enjoyed a wonderful weekend in New York City. It was great to see the knowledge from my coursework applied at such high levels of strategy and investments, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this experiential learning opportunity.

Smith PT MBA Students Volunteer with the Girl Scouts of America

By Holly Smith, Community Development Committee

On Sunday, November 9th, 2014, a group of part-time MBA students and I gathered in Millersville, Maryland. We were volunteering with two Girl Scout troops, consisting of thirty 4th grade girls. The objective was to teach them basic financial skills to become knowledgeable, confident, and self-reliant consumers and business leaders. The Girl Scouts of America is a non-profit organization that fosters courage, confidence, and character in young women who strive to make the world a better place. I had the pleasure, along with two fellow part-time MBA students, Jill Alarcon and Lauren Jayne, of organizing the event in coordination with the PTMBAA Community Development Committee.

The event began by welcoming the Girl Scouts, and reciting the Girl Scout Promise. All of the volunteers then introduced themselves to the group; part-time MBA student volunteers Erica Pitkow and Caitlin Bender explained to the Girl Scouts what a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is and why it is important to them. It was important for us to explain to the Girl Scouts the importance of education and the possibilities education can bring them in the future.

After the introductions, Girl Scouts were split into three groups of ten, and each group was led by two to three volunteers. The event consisted of five different activities that were designed so the Girl Scouts would better understand the difference between a need and a want, to identify what triggers their wants, and to develop a savings plan. After each activity, the volunteers rotated to a different table so they would each get a chance to work with every group. The most popular activity by far was the blind taste test, in which the Girl Scouts blind taste tested name brand and store brand apple juice and wheat crackers. It was interesting to see that a lot of the girls preferred the store brand food items. We thus discussed with them the tradeoffs for purchasing brand name versus store brand items.

Once all five activities were completed, we brought the energetic Girl Scouts together as one big group to discuss what they learned that day. One Girl Scout commented, “The most important thing I learned today was that you should be careful of what you should shop for and [sic] some stores are more expensive than others”. Another Girl Scout added, “I learned that making a savings plan is important”. What made the experience truly rewarding was seeing the excited looks on the Girl Scouts’ faces, and hearing positive feedback from the troop leaders. “We had so much fun,” two Girls Scouts told me. The feeling was mutual, not just for me, but for all the volunteers who contributed their time to help such a great organization developing our future leaders.

  

The PTMBAA Community Development Committee along with Holly Smith, Jill Alarcon, and Lauren Jayne owe special thanks to all the students and their friends and families who volunteered their time at this event.  Student volunteers included Erica Pitkow, Caitlin Bender, and Anusha Nallapati. 

Holly Smith is a third-year part-time MBA student at the Baltimore campus. She currently works as a Contracting Specialist for the Department of Defense. In her spare time, she enjoys playing and coaching volleyball, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

 

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PTMBAA Warm Clothing Drive

The PTMBAA is hosting a Warm Clothing Drive from November 1 – November 30 to benefit local families in need this winter. To make this event more exciting, this will be a friendly competition among the cohorts! Each individual cohort now has their own donation bin at their respective campus. The cohort with the highest level of donations at the end of the month will receive an additional $250 to their cohort budget. The “Most Generous Cohort”, with the highest average donations per student, will receive an additional $100 and this will be calculated as total donations per cohort / currently enrolled students per cohort. The winners will be announced at the Holiday Party on December 6th, and funds will be transferred for the Spring.

Donation items may include adult or child sized coats, sweaters, mittens, gloves, hats and blankets. They should all be free of rips or stains.

Donation Schedule:
2 donations = Heavy jackets
1 donation = Sweaters, blankets and light jackets

0.5 donations = Hats, gloves and scarves

While we encourage a friendly and healthy competition among students, please remember that the objective is to help local families stay warm this winter.

Which cohort will show the highest levels of philanthropy and giving..?

If you have any questions, please contact Rahul.Shah@rhsmith.umd.edu

The Secret to Building a Strong Network

julieneillBy Julie Neill, PT MBA Assistant Director, Executive Career Coach

Every working professional knows the importance of building a strong network.  But what’s the secret to doing so?  As you may have noticed, there has been an emphasis on networking the past couple of months by the PT MBA career coaching team.  After a series of networking workshops on each campus and two highly successful networking events at the DC and Baltimore campuses this month, we hope that many of you have been able to make some fantastic, new professional connections with fellow students and alumni.  But now what?

The secret to building a strong network is the follow up.  Just like a garden, a robust network needs tending to, i.e. continuous cultivation and maintenance.  One meeting does not a relationship make.  Think about dating.  If you went out on one date, but never followed up with the person, how would the relationship progress?

One of the critical factors here is timing.  Strike when the iron is hot and follow up immediately after your initial meeting or very soon after.  Send a LinkedIn connection request, preferably with a brief personalized message, and/or follow up with a short email.  Again, although you want to keep it concise, make sure it’s personalized so the person can remember you and your specific conversation.  If your initial conversation was brief, ask them to meet for coffee or lunch to continue the conversation in more depth.  Or perhaps you recently read a book or article you think might be of interest to them, or better yet, you’ve written or produced something that might be of value to them professionally.  Forward it along.

The key to any good relationship is that it is mutually beneficial.  Another great way to build the relationship is to connect that person to a colleague or friend you think might also be a great connection for them based on their interests, and in this regard, it doesn’t necessarily have to be purely professional.  For example, perhaps they mentioned they were in search of a good mechanic and you happen to know a great one or perhaps they mentioned a love of playing soccer and you happen to play on a local team.  Be a connector.  By doing so, both your network and ultimately, your net worth will begin to increase infinitely.

Negotiating Tips for Your Offer

By Joyce E. A. Russell, Ph.D., Vice Dean, Robert H. Smith School of Business

People who do not negotiate for salary start behind their peers who do. With every raise predicated on the starting position, they could be paying for this error for a very long time. In fact, senior managers may assume a person making less money is less valuable or less capable so that person is less likely to be promoted. Also, if your compensation record is better than others, employers will assume your performance is better too. So, remember that your salary history sends a signal that profoundly affects your performance reviews, raises, and job offers for YEARS to come. But, don’t be alarmed – negotiating salary, while stressful, involves skills that you can and should learn. In fact, 80% of employers stated that the job applicant who negotiates in a professional manner would make the best impression on them compared to: applicants who just accept the first offer and applicants who use an overly aggressive style when negotiating. To help you out, here are my top tips for negotiating your salary:

  1. Get a written job offer before conducting any salary negotiations.  Employers want YOU the most right after they have sent you a written offer. This is the time when you have the most leverage. Avoid negotiating during the interview process. It is not in your best interest.
  2. Avoid answering questions about your current or previous salary or salary expectations until you get a written offer. Even when you get an offer, avoid bringing up these issues. It is generally NOT in your best interest to report your previous or current salary. After all, you are completing an MBA to enhance your salary. So, if they ask these types of questions – try to deflect them as best as you can using something like -  “Before we address those issues, can you tell me more about the job tasks and responsibilities…” OR “This job is really different from what I was previously doing so the salary from that job is really not relevant; I would love to hear more about the job responsibilities…”
  3. Conduct market research to determine your market value and what your salary should be. This is one of the most important things you can do. You will not know if their offer is a good one unless you have conducted market research.  There are plenty of websites (e.g., payscale.com; glassdoor.com; salary.com) that can provide valuable information to you in helping you determine your worth.
  4. Establish your BATNA – your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. The most powerful weapon you have when negotiating salary is having a strong BATNA. This means – look for other offers that you can use as leverage. Try to get all your job offers around the same time.
  5. Set a MPP – a Maximum Plausible Position. Come up with a salary range and a MPP that makes sense. Doing research (e.g., market data) will help you determine what salary should be your target. Do not think about what you need (at the bottom level) to survive. Think instead of the top amount that you are aspiring to (that is realistic). Applicants with higher targets will generally be given higher salaries.
  6. After you receive the written offer, review it carefully. Thank them for the offer but do NOT answer “yes or no” regarding the offer until you have had time to think about it.
  7. If you decide you want to negotiate the offer, think about the top 2-3 things you really want to have changed in the offer (e.g., salary, start date, signing bonus, performance bonus, amount of vacation, etc).  Focus on those first.
  8. Practice what you will say when calling them back to talk about the offer. Script it out – what you will say, what they may say, what you will say in response. Have someone practice with you. Practice enhances your self-confidence.
  9. Listen to what they say and ask questions using a nice tone and style. Ask questions to understand, not to be confrontational. “Can you help me understand how you arrived at that offer…” This style also provides you with information about their views which can be beneficial when you negotiate with them.
  10. Remember to consider non-monetary things (e.g., job title, location, start date, relocation, benefits, educational or professional development funds) to negotiate in addition to salary, especially if they are unable to give you everything you wanted in the salary.
  11. Be persistent. Just because they say “no” the first time does not mean it is hopeless. You can ask them “can you help me understand why that would be difficult to do” then say nothing (using silence).  Use a nice tone and style when pushing back.  Sometimes they have to check with someone else at the firm. Let them check. Ask if they need additional information from you.
  12. Don’t quibble over small things.  Don’t fight with them over small differences in salary or perks.
  13. Once you decide to accept the offer, make sure the new offer is written. Then, send your letter of acceptance.  If you turn them down, make sure to diplomatically do this since your reputation and that of your school is connected to how you treat them.

Remember, you may not get everything you want from a job negotiation; but you probably won’t get anything more or different if you don’t ask.  You have to ask! In addition, your success in salary negotiations is all about how much you PREPARE and PRACTICE. So, take the time – it really is important.

MBAA Clubs: Become a PT MBA Liaison

PT MBA Liaisons are members of their respective club’s boards. They help with normal board duties and act as the voice of the PT population. Each of the clubs below currently have PT MBA Liaison positions available. Find out how to get involved below:

Jewish MBA Association (JMBAA)

Description
The JMBAA is a center-point for the Jewish community at the Smith School. The purpose is to advocate for and support Jewish MBA students and to provide Jewish-themed social and educational events for all MBA students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The JMBA Association seeks to strengthen social ties, build community among Jewish graduate students, and provide links to Jewish organizations on campus and within the local area.

Responsibilities/Time Commitment
1 to 2 hours a week

Website
http://clubs.rhsmith.umd.edu/jmbaa/

Contact
Justin Fisher: justin.fischer@rhsmith.umd.edu

Latin MBA Student Association (LAMBASA)

Description
LAMBASA represents the Latin community and culture at Smith, and aims to strengthen its network among LAMBASA alumni and Professional Latin associations throughout the DC area.Activities organized by the association include peer advising, career development, and networking opportunities.

Responsibilities/Time Commitment
PT MBA Liaison will represent and promote LAMBASA’s mission and events. Time commitment will be 1 hour a week.

Website
http://clubs.rhsmith.umd.edu/lambasa/

Contact
Freddy Chacon: freddy.chacon@rhsmith.umd.edu

MBA Consulting Club (MCC)

Description
The MBA Consulting Club has a twofold mission: one is to provide its members with a deeper understanding with the consulting industry and two is to help its members find career opportunities in the industry. This is conducted through weekly case practice, case competitions, information sessions with outside employers, and networking events. Our signature event, the Consulting Forum, takes place this year on Friday, October 31st at Van Munching Hall on the College Park campus.

Responsibilities/Time Commitment
We are looking for a PT MBA Liaison on the club board in order to help us better understand the needs of part-time students and how we can serve the whole student body as well as to help promote events that would be useful to both part-time and full-time students.

Website
http://clubs.rhsmith.umd.edu/mbaconsultingclub/

Contact
Brendan Collins: brendan.collins@rhsmith.umd.edu

Net Impact

Description
The Net Impact at Smith serves as a hub for both academic and career-oriented activities related to developing a broader perspective of leadership and entrepreneurship. Through guest lecturers, student discussions, interactive workshops, and community volunteering, we explore new business models and methods to exert a positive impact upon our environment.

Responsibilities/Time Commitment
We are looking for a PT MBA liaison to help market/promote Net Impact activities and events for the 2014-2015 school year. We expect the time commitment to be minimal – 1 hour a week for meetings/marketing and then to attend any events (majority in the evening) hosted by the club.

Website
http://clubs.rhsmith.umd.edu/netimpact/

Contact
Anna Anderson: anna.anderson@rhsmith.umd.edu

Smith Association of Womens MBA (SAWMBA)

Description
The mission of SAWMBA is to celebrate the advancement of women in the business world, foster relationships inside and outside the University of Maryland community, and create professional, academic and personal resources for Smith women.

Responsibilities/Time Commitment
A PT MBA Liaison is expected to commit less than an hour every two weeks. Our goals are to increase female PT MBA participation and awareness of all SAWMBA events.

Website
http://clubs.rhsmith.umd.edu/sawmba/

Contact
Jessica Waters: jessica.waters@rhsmith.umd.edu

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Welcome to the Smith PT MBA Program!

By Jenny Richardson, PTMBAA Marketing Committee

Welcome to the Robert H. Smith School of Business. We hope you are excited about your upcoming journey as a part-time student. You will soon learn that your time is precious while you aim for a work-life-study balance and business school is not just about what you know, but is more about who you know. That’s why the Smith School strongly encourages students to connect on social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. These networking platforms allow convenient and immediate access to information and contacts, even when it isn’t possible to make it in person across campuses. The Part-Time MBA Association has a page on Facebook where you can communicate about upcoming networking events, potential courses to take, books and other campus alerts. There are also cohort Facebook pages set-up for you and your fellow Fall 2014 classmates, to discuss just about everything and keep in touch.

In addition to social media, the Smith School also encourages you to regularly visit the MBA Networth website. It contains valuable information about your Smith experience. The upcoming academic calendar, planning the MBA curriculum, information about finances, adjusting schedules by adding or dropping courses, even if you’d like to look up faculty or students, MBA Networth is your ideal resource.