Things I’m Thankful For: School Edition

Since it’s the season for giving thanks I thought I’d reminisce and share the things that I’ve been thankful for throughout my undergraduate and now grad school education. I was lucky enough to be able to attend not only one, but two great schools: Lehigh University and now the University of Virginia. So here goes….

The University Center at Lehigh and the Rotunda at UVA  
The University Center at Lehigh and the Rotunda at UVA
  1. Beautiful Architecture– I would consider both of these schools to be among the most beautiful in the country, although I’m definitely a little biased. Lehigh and UVA have very different feels in terms of architecture and building styles but both captured my heart from the very beginning and every walk through campus reminds me of how lucky I am.
The inside of Linderman Library at Lehigh and the amphitheater at UVA
The inside of Linderman Library at Lehigh and the amphitheater at UVA
  1. School Spirit– UVA’s school spirit is infectious. Everyone is always so proud to be a Hoo. Football games are an occasion with guys in ties and girls in pearls; people are wearing orange and blue on any given day (a color combination I never thought to put together) and people love their sports teams. This past weekend was one of Lehigh’s most revered traditions, the Lehigh Lafayette game. In case you didn’t know, Le-Laf is the longest standing college football rivalry with this year being the 151st game; it’s bigger than Homecoming and Halloween combined at Lehigh. It was an amazing feeling going back as an alum, seeing old friends, wearing my brown and white again and of course watching Lehigh beat Lafayette! Although I will admit I had a bit of a hard time this Wednesday when Lehigh played UVA in basketball…. my alliance for that game and who I rooted for will remain a secret on here.
Lehigh’s mascot Clutch the Hawk and UVA’s Cav Man
Lehigh’s mascot Clutch the Hawk and UVA’s Cav Man
  1. Small School Feel– I was a little nervous coming from Lehigh, a relatively small school with only about 5,000 students, to the University of Virginia, which has about 15,000, especially not knowing anyone here. However, the M.S. in Commerce program has given me that small school feel. Anytime I step foot into McIntire I run into multiple people I know whether it is fellow students, professors or staff, and I felt at home right from the beginning. Charlottesville has such a welcoming feel so there’s no need to worry about transitioning from a smaller school.
  1. Rich History– Both campuses have a strong sense of tradition and history which give students a sense of pride. You can’t think of UVA without thinking about Thomas Jefferson and his vision for an Academical Village. While a U.S. President didn’t found Lehigh, it has a rich history shaped by the Bethlehem Steel Mill and good old Asa Packer (not too mention a personal history for me since my grandfathers all went there).

    Asa Packer and Thomas Jefferson both look like pretty cool guys, who rocks shades better though is the question?
    Asa Packer and Thomas Jefferson both look like pretty cool guys, who rocks shades better though is the question?
  2. Amazing Friends– Above all, I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met at both schools and beyond grateful to be able to call them my friends. I wouldn’t be where I am and have gotten into this program without the support of my friends at Lehigh and I wouldn’t be able to make it through this year without the support of all the friends I have made at UVA. I have found a home in both Bethlehem and Charlottesville and wouldn’t trade a minute in either place.
Thankful 5
Graduation Day at Lehigh and with fellow MSC students at a vineyard outside Charlottesville

Cheers to an unforgettable four years at Lehigh and the rest of an amazing year to come at McIntire and UVA!

-Written by Jordan Smith

Student Profile: Emmanuel Abebrese

This weekend I had the pleasure of sitting down with M.S. in Commerce (MSC) all-star Emmanuel Abebrese to discuss his past, future, and path to McIntire. I walked away from our conversation impressed and inspired. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to share Emmanuel’s exceptional story with you:

An Early Awakeningphoto(1) (2)

Emmanuel is the son of two missionaries from Ghana. While they traveled the world doing their noble work, he stayed in Ghana and lived with relatives. It was during these early years that he was exposed to the disparity of wealth in his home country, having lived in both affluent developments and impoverished neighborhoods. Emmanuel remembered those in need even as his education took him thousands of miles away.

Student, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Emmanuel studied biochemistry at Washington & Lee University (W&L) on scholarship after going to high school in Virginia. He says the thing that attracted him to W&L is the emphasis the university places on trust and honor (sound familiar?). During his undergrad years, he conducted research in various scientific disciplines and dedicated himself to fighting poverty, both in the United States and in Ghana. He was awarded several grants to travel to Ghana to study immunology and provide health care and education to families in need. He even organized a Google hangout session between children in a Lexington, Va., elementary school and children in a Ghanaian elementary school in order to broaden their horizons and encourage them to be global thinkers at an early age.

Emmanual with a teacher at The Apostolic Academy in Ashaiman, Ghana working on graduation certificates.
Emmanual with a teacher at The Apostolic Academy in Ashaiman, Ghana working on graduation certificates.

Eager to broaden his impact on the world, Emmanuel founded his own nonprofit, Citadel Foundation for Kids International while still enrolled in school. The mission of the foundation, says Emmanuel, is to empower young Ghanaian children to continue their education and become advocates for their own communities. There is currently a disconnect between the impoverished people in Ghana and those in positions to provide the resources they need (e.g., the Parliament). Emmanuel believes that education will be the key to these children discovering their voices and using them to collaborate with those in positions of power to make choices that are grounded in ethical and moral training.

At his W&L graduation with his mom, Mrs. Comfort Abebrese, the Provost of Washington and Lee University (Professor Daniel Wubah), and his wife, Dr. Judith Wubah.
At his W&L graduation with his mom, Mrs. Comfort Abebrese, the Provost of Washington and Lee University (Professor Daniel Wubah), and his wife, Dr. Judith Wubah.

What’s Ahead

Next year, Emmanuel will head Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, and even with the demands of medical school, he will continue his philanthropic work. His plan is to develop a network in the Cloud where experts and academics from across the world can log on and see what simple tasks they can do that will help those in need. For example, a doctor may be able to provide a brief video tutorial on suturing techniques for Ghanaian medical students who are already swamped with patients, or a professor of entrepreneurship may compile a list of resources to aide in the development of a local initiative.

If there is one thing I took away from my time with Emmanuel, it’s that he’s unstoppable, and wherever life takes him, he’ll never lose sight of his mission. Click here to hear Emmanuel’s discussion on why he chose to come to McIntire for his gap year and how he’s already gained tools that will help him run his nonprofit. Speaking of which, if you are interested in learning more about Citadel Foundation for Kids International, check out its website here.

Personal Profile (1)

Emmanuel is one of many exceptional students that the MSC attracts.  Feel free to reach out to him at if you have any questions or are just interested in learning more about his experiences.

Happy Thanksgiving Folks!

Ryan Riccordella

Professor Profile: Ira Harris // The Force Is Strong with This One

Two whole weeks have passed since our last Strategy & Systems session, so we (Logan and Katie Nell) were very excited to have the opportunity to catch up with Professor Harris. Our conversation helped us learn a little more about him, but also reminded us of how much we learned through his class. To start this blog post off, we have a fun quiz for all of Professor Harris’s past and present students.

Open House 2

“So You Think You Know Ira Harris?”

The man. The legend. The soft-spoken Strategy & Systems professor and backbone of the entire GCOM program. Think you know him? It’s time to find out! Please submit your Honor Code pledge in the comments section below.

Question #1: ICH. Just three little letters and, immediately, you know what’s up. But here’s our question: Do you know what the “C” stands for? Classic? Chief? Chic?

Question #2: The sprawling menu at Bodo’s offers limitless delicious possibilities. The dizzying multitude of bagel options can send C’villians into a frenzy. But Professor Harris is a man who knows what he wants. So, what’s his Bodo’s order?

Question #3: If you thought being a full-time Strategy & Systems professor and reigning Director of the entire GCOM program was too much for Harris to handle—you thought wrong, friend. There’s no rest for the wicked, and Ira #CantStopWontStop. Do you know what other managerial position he holds? (Yes, peeping his LinkedIn is considered cheating.)

The answers are hidden somewhere in this blog post!

Now let’s get down to business. Answering questions about his course, Strategy & Systems, Professor Harris provides fascinating insight to what makes the McIntire process so unique:

What unique advantages do people who have taken your class, Strategy & Systems, have in the working world?

We know that upon graduation, students will constantly run into problems, and scoping these problems is extremely important. Throughout this course, students look at a lot of different problems, in a lot of different ways, and practicing this problem-solving mindset really helps alums down the line. The entire McIntire model gives students the tools to break down problems and understand how change impacts an organization. In an increasingly changing world, these tools will never be irrelevant.

So, we’re just finishing up this big project. How would you describe it simply to our readers who might not be familiar with our class material? Why do you assign it (i.e., how does it culminate all that we’ve learned)?

This project has everything to do with the McIntire model. Students work as consultants to solve real managerial issues that have no textbook answer. These issues are multidimensional with various functions, and students must consider factors including operations, supply chain management, and marketing. They are given the end goal, but students must find the correct pathways to reach this goal.

Aside from providing great problem-solving practice, the project allows students to learn how to interact with executives. Further, students learn how to extensively work with a team. At the end of the project timeline, groups each produce 25-page client-ready reports and present these reports to the CEO and CMO of the company. Sure, Harvard Business School cases are an excellent way to prepare students. But this project is analogous to actually being inside of a company, which provides a much richer learning experience.

In your experience, what has made the best projects so successful?

The answer here is simple. The best projects are the ones in which it is clear that the students have really stretched their understanding and gone beyond how the managers involved were even thinking. Using the training they’ve obtained throughout the semester, in addition to their unique pre-Comm experiences, our students are capable of approaching an industry, a company, and its problem with a completely fresh point of view. When students take full advantage of this special perspective, they deliver outstanding projects.

Based on the fact that we have three “repeat customers”—Bigelow Tea, Great Harvest Bread Co., and Afton Chemical—it’s clear that our students’ recommendations have been insightful and imaginative enough to keep these managers coming back for more. I’m hopeful that PepsiCo feels the same way now that they have seen what GCOM students can bring to the boardroom!

Let’s turn the tables. Imagine that you had to complete this S&S project! If you could pick any company to analyze and advise, which one would you have chosen? Why?  

Oh, this is a tough one…

Well, it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of operations over at General Electric. So, if GE were a company in our project set, I have to say that I’d love to work on trying to help them navigate their ventures into renewable energy—both the “when” and the “how.” It’s just such an exciting new undertaking for them.

By “somewhere in this blog post” we meant at the bottom. Gotcha.


  1. Champion. Just kidding. It’s Caldwell! Even cooler.
  2. Were you foolish enough to believe that there would be merely one part to this question’s answer? Harris has an experimental and diverse palette:
    • Breakfast: Cinnamon raisin with cream cheese
    • Lunch: Sesame with turkey and provolone
  3. A family man, Professor Harris manages the self-storage business his father founded 45 years ago. Even though it’s Tappahannock, Va., he’s still on site at least once or twice a week. Dedication is his middle name! Wait, no it’s not. It’s Caldwell.

-Written by Logan Steele & Katie Nell Taylor

Myth Busting the Participation Grade

Student participation, an important component of the McIntire School of Commerce coursework, dominates the grading structure of the M.S. in Commerce. And why shouldn’t it? I’d never succeed in the business world without the ability to insightfully contribute to discussions. Still…

Participation Table

I don’t know about you, but the minute I laid eyes on that table, I had a few concerns. Primarily, how long I could survive with 1s before they would chuck me out of this program! I participated moderately in undergrad, but I didn’t really consider myself exceptionally insightful. I’m not quiet, but I’m not too confident. I certainly didn’t think I’d ever made a comment that “moved the class thinking to a higher level.” Yeah, right. My level usually hovers right above baseline.

Or, so I thought.

While participating in my classes for the past 12 weeks, I have happily surprised myself with the progression of the quality of my comments and with my comfort level. I started improving once I figured out that most of my fears stemmed from false ideas I had about the way the participation system works. So, let’s bust some myths, shall we?

Myth #1: Cold calling!

The big, scary one. Let me clear the air here. In three months, there has only been one time where one professor jokingly threatened to cold call a rather sleepy class of people. It’s not like these professors rub their hands together, cackling excitedly as they scan the room for the most zoned-out student. Cold calling is their absolute last resort. They really just want us to reflect the level of excitement they feel about the material. Trust me, that part comes easily!

Myth #2: It must be nearly impossible to sift through all the readings and find points I’ll remember to make in class!

Okay, so we don’t actually get cold called. But maybe you’re still worried that, with the multitude of readings, you’d be too overwhelmed with information to pick out (and remember) important points to make in class.

Trust me, there’s usually something that really catches your eye in an article. The great thing about grad school is that you made the choice to continue your education in this field because it’s actually what interests you. Take it from me; this will carry you through the many readings. I’m not going to lie to you. I have inevitably encountered articles for which I decided to practice my skimming techniques. Sometimes, professors even tell you explicitly that you should skim readings for the main point! (It’s a skill, people.) But for the most part, they keep it to page-turners here at McIntire, so class discussion always flows naturally. Also, the comments other people make usually remind you of passages you wanted to discuss. Which brings me to my next point…

Myth #3: With everyone desperate to get those participation points, I’ll never get a word in edgewise!

Yes, people want to participate, but the Hermione Grangers typically calm down after about a week. And this isn’t the professors’ first rodeo. They know how to work a room. Being surrounded by highly intelligent classmates may seem frustrating when someone else makes the point you wanted to make. However, the stimulating environment is such a bonus because other classmates’ and professors’ comments will provoke responses from you. Blocks of class can last for three hours, so you’ll be thankful that your classmates are so eager to contribute to discussion because sometimes you need each other’s ideas to keep up the steam. The environment is collaborative, not cutthroat.

I honestly don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I finally decided to slowly raise my hand—kind of halfway up to about forehead height. My heart beat so hard that it made my fingers shake, and I was definitely sweating. But you really shouldn’t sweat it, guys. I’m generally one of the least opinionated people you’ll meet, but at least once per class, there’s something I just have to say. The bonus? I get points for it!

-Written by Logan Steele

Dinosaurs and Vikings and Candy…Oh My!

On the eve of Halloween (referred to as “Mischief Night” in my home state of New Jersey but apparently nowhere else) the UVA community was all but mischievous.  October 30th marked the continuation of a long standing tradition at UVA: “Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn.”

Members of the MSC program smile for the camera...except for our friend Jinny who was relentlessly dedicated to her job as candy distributor.
Members of the MSC program smile for the camera…except for our friend Jinny who was relentlessly dedicated to her job as candy distributor.

Each year, children from the local community are invited on Grounds to trick-or-treat against the backdrop of the historic Rotunda.  Each of the Lawn rooms are occupied by student groups or organizations who come out to share their Halloween spirit (and candy).  Of course, the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) had a booth sponsored by the GCOMM Council.  We don’t miss an opportunity to have a good time, especially not when there’s cute kids and dogs.

We have a similar tradition at Wake Forest called “Project Pumpkin” so I was glad to participate in an event that reminded me of “home.”  However, when you are located in a larger city than Winston-Salem, the turnout is also going to be much larger than you are used to.  That would be an understatement.  I was baffled by the length of the line that went all the way around the Lawn.  For a line that long you would have thought they were giving out free candy or something…

MSC Halloween 2

Now that’s what I call a line.

Another thing that impressed me…the costumes!  Among my favorites were an unidentified individual in an inflatable T-Rex costume and a group of Vikings (complete with ship) who basically just grunted and yelled the entire time.  Not pictured was a baby astronaut whose helmet made this novice walker a little top-heavy…I’ll let the adorableness of that visual sink in…

I thought this costume was dino-mite...yes? whatever.
I thought this costume was dino-mite.








MSC Halloween 4
Make way for the viking ship!

As the intensity of the semester begins to peak, I was glad to have had yet another opportunity to step away enjoy the spirit of the season (check out our Instagram posts from the Fall Festival and our trip to Pippin Hill Winery).  Of course, us bloggers will be sure to include you in all the fun!

I hope you had a happy and safe Halloween at your respective schools.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have mountain of candy to eat.

Written by Ryan Riccordella

Heel in Hooville

During the summer, before the M.S. in Commerce Program began, I spoke with numerous friends and neighbors who were UVA alums. All of them told me the same thing: If you loved UNC, you’ll love UVA. After all, the schools are startlingly similar—both are quite old, the original campuses of both were built around a central grass quadrangle, both are often associated with U.S. presidents (Polk and Jefferson), both are considered “Public Ivies” and are highly ranked every year, both are incredibly successful in sports and members of the ACC—I could go on all day. I mean, the university logos are basically the same shape.

UNC Logo and UVA Logo
uva logo unc logo

With the assumption that I’d be attending a clone of Carolina, I arrived in Charlottesville and was surprised. UVA was indeed quite similar to UNC, but everyone was speaking a completely different language. I studied abroad in Germany for a year and had an easier time understanding the student lingo at the University of Tübingen than I did at the University of Virginia. Over the past few months, I have begun to decode this strange dialect. Below is a dictionary I have made for myself, defining each term and assigning it a roughly equivalent UNC analog.

Academical Village – the original campus of UVA, as designed by Jefferson. UNC version: Central Campus

Alderman – a large library that houses many of the university’s books. UNC version: Davis

Clemons – a library used primarily for studying, and which often remains open 24 hours. UNC version: the UL

Comm School –McIntire School of Commerce (Comm School), which houses the undergraduate business school and the MSC, MSA, and MSMIT programs. UNC version: B-School

The Corner – the street north of Grounds (see below) where students can shop, dine, and go out to bars. UNC version: Franklin Street

“The Good Old Song” – UVA’s alma mater. UNC version: “Hark the Sound”

Grounds – UVA’s campus. UNC version: Campus (duh)

Jeff Soc – short for the Jefferson Literary and Debate Society, an old debate society. UNC version: Di Phi

JPJ – John Paul Jones Arena, home of the basketball team. UNC version: The Dean Dome

The Lawn – UVA’s main quad. UNC version: Polk Place

Mad Bowl – short for Madison Bowl, a grass field around which many fraternities and sororities are located. UNC version: Frat court

The Pav – short for Pavilion XI, a food court-like dining hall. UNC version: Bottom of Lenoir

The Rotunda – the symbol of the University and a fixture of the original campus. UNC version: The Old Well

Trin – Trinity Irish Pub, a public drinking establishment of questionable reputation. UNC version: Fitz

Virg – the Virginian, a classic restaurant on the Corner, founded in 1923. UNC version: Sutton’s Drug Store (also founded in 1923!)

As you can see, UNC and UVA really are quite similar. And even though Virginia doesn’t have MJ or the basketball history that Carolina does, they do have TJ and lots of other history to make up for it. I look forward to continuing my UNC-UVA translation dictionary throughout the rest of the year!

UVA’s Lawn and UNC’s Polk Place:

UNC lawn

unc polk place

JPJ and Dean Dome:


Dean Dome

TJ and MJ:


-Written by guest blogger, Graham Kirby (pictured below). Feel free to reach out to Graham ( with any questions, he’s a great resource to learn more.

DSC_4748 (1)
Graham Kirby at his UNC graduation

It was a grape weekend for MSC!

vine 1

The MSC family photo at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard

vine 2

The views outside Charlottesville are nothing to wine about

vine 3A special shout out to GCOM Council Members above (Melissa Saunders, Kristen Parker, Graham Kirby, Shuang Shuang Liang and Jeff Sinclair) for planning this wonderful event

vine 4

Julia Pedrick and Jason Feng joke around about being inspired by the wedding being held at Pippin

vine 5

vine 8

MSC students showing off their best business casual outfits after our speaker that morning

vine 7

The glass is always half full when you’re with friends

Two of your bloggers, Jordan and Ryan, enjoying the beautiful weather and wine

Looking back on 10 weeks in MSC

After several attempts to hail a cab on a recent visit to NYC, I opened my Uber app. Oddly enough, I instantly thought of the company’s value proposition and unique competitive positioning. Later that day, when shopping with my sister at Zara, I couldn’t help but think about how effective their supply chain and inventory management are. And after passing a Starbucks on nearly every block, I remembered their “crowding out” growth strategy.

Whether we stayed on campus or went away for fall break, we all had the chance to slow down and reflect on the whirlwind of the past ten weeks. And whether we admit it or not, we have already begun to see the business world around us in an entirely new way. I wanted to use this blog post to help us remember the things that we have accomplished up to this point in the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) program that have ushered in this new way of thinking.

MSC Students pose in front of Old Cabell Hall during Orientation Week scavenger hunt.
MSC Students pose in front of Old Cabell Hall during Orientation Week scavenger hunt.

Process Model Memo

10 week check in 1It seems like just yesterday that we were all thrown into our first major assignment: the “process model memo.” One week into the program, we were given a lengthy HBR case on Carnival Cruise Lines and asked to develop a unique strategy that overhauled their existing IT system. We all made it through this assignment, but looking back, it’s clear that the countless hours we spent on this project taught us way more than the details of Carnival Cruise Lines’ activity system. Through this and the many memos that followed, we’ve learned to dive into complex business problems when the answers are far from obvious.

86 mornings of current events 

We discuss current events in almost all of our classes, and we are expected to read the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times each morning. Our professors forewarned us that we would quickly see trends within different articles, and they weren’t wrong. I’m so surprised that when I pick up the news, I can just read the headline and know almost exactly what trend the article will be about. And when discussing a case in class, I subconsciously connect it to whatever news stories I read that morning. Knowing what is going on outside of your own bubble is extremely important, no matter where you are in life. They say it takes about a month to develop a habit, and keeping up with current events is absolutely a valuable habit to have.

Presentations… and more presentations

I had always assumed that my public speaking anxiety was something that I would never get over. I avoided speeches at all cost during undergrad, but I quickly realized that this year, my avoidance would become something of the past. We are required to speak up in every class, and we’ve already had three major presentations. Each presentation has had a strict “no notecard” policy… and two of these presentations have been videotaped. This would have been my worst nightmare in the past, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that over time, I’ve learned to become less focused on myself and more focused on the audience. After countless hours of practice, we have all become much more confident with public speaking.


We’ve had an exam in almost all of our main courses. But these exams have been unlike any test I’ve taken before. In our strategy exam, we were given six articles from a business news source a week before the exam, and we were encouraged to prepare extensively with classmates. In accounting, we were given just one realistic case analysis, instead of multiple micro-level technical questions. And in our finance exam, we were allowed to use a double-sided sheet of paper with all of the formulas. Going in, we knew that having these formulas in front of us would mean nothing if we were unable to think strategically and use them in meaningful ways. These midterms required plenty of study time, but memorization wasn’t the name of the game. Success has relied on strategic and analytical thinking—skills we’ll need when facing business problems outside of the classroom.

As midterms come to a close, MSC students celebrate by spending the day at Pippin Hill Vineyards.
As midterms come to a close, MSC students celebrate by spending the day at Pippin Hill Vineyards.

Integrated Strategy Project

A few weeks ago, we kicked off our integrated strategy project by having conference calls with the Chief Marketing Officers of major companies. We discussed a specific problem that faced their company, and following the calls, our groups each began extensive research that would eventually make up a 35+ page business and marketing strategy. We’ve had multiple group projects, but this is the project that we have all been waiting for. Applying everything that we’ve learned into a real business situation has already been incredible.

 Job Offers!

It’s hard to believe that many of our classmates already have job offers! Whether we have a job or not, we are all much further down along in our career search than we were at the beginning of this program. We have had networking assignments, interview practice, career search presentations, and so many other assignments and events that have given us a head start!

It’s clear that MSC students have been Hoos Fans since day 1!
It’s clear that MSC students have been Hoos Fans since day 1!

-Written by Katie Nell Taylor

Why WFU Students Can Thrive at UVA

I take great pride in being a Demon Deacon. My Wake Forest degree represents academic rigor, integrity, and growth. Now, I take great pride in calling myself a Hoo.

Faced with the decision of whether or not to enter the workplace directly after graduating from Wake, I called an audible and decided to invest in myself a little bit more. After hearing Emma Candelier speak at an info session in Benson, the M.S. in Commerce (MSC) Program immediately appealed to me. I saw an opportunity to supplement my liberal arts degree with hard business skills and to widen my professional network to include students and alumni from one of the strongest business institutions in the country.  Midway through the spring semester, my mind was made up, I was Charlottesville bound.

Fall in the Forest is tough to beat. But Charlottesville comes close!
Fall in the Forest is tough to beat. 
But Charlottesville comes close!
But Charlottesville comes close!

The University of Virginia is a fabulous institution where many Wake Forest students will feel at home. Both are charming schools with rich histories that pride themselves on challenging students to broaden their horizons and become engaged, productive members of society.

They are, in short, two complementary institutions that mold bright, ambitious students into professional powerhouses.

A degree from McIntire is definitely worth of a Quad Roll.
A degree from McIntire is definitely worth of a Quad Roll.

Now a personal note to any perspective Wake Forest students out there: At Wake Forest, you gain a broad array of experiences and skills, resulting in a fresh perspective in any class discussion (i.e. Divisionals are not a waste of your time…just the opposite).  And that “Work Forest” work ethic you picked up will serve you well in the MSC program.  It is the diligent, conscientious and curious who excel here at UVA and, fortunately for you, those are exactly the characteristics that the rigor of Wake Forest creates.  Lastly, don’t forget about our motto, “Pro Humanitate.”  No matter what preconceptions you may have about business, it is fundamentally about people.  An internalized sense of commitment to the wellbeing of others makes it easier to appreciate this fact.

Much like Wake, McIntire attracts the best and brightest.
Much like Wake, McIntire attracts the best and brightest.

UVA is the second of the 1-2 knockout punch combo. You will recall that I chose to come here to invest in myself.  To my pleasant surprise, I have found that my professors and the institution itself are incredibly invested in me.  Never before have I felt so valuable as a student, and, as a result, never before have been so motivated to learn.

And learning is exactly what I have been doing since Day 1. The MSC program is providing me with the opportunity to acquire the technical and interpersonal business skills that will make me a more competitive job candidate. In the two months I have been here, I can confidently say that I feel more comfortable now with my ability to solve business problems than I ever have. I understand the fundamentals of corporate strategy, finance, and marketing and have been given opportunities to put my new skills into practice using real-world examples.

The McIntire courtyard,
The McIntire courtyard,

No matter what your major or career goals, the MSC program at UVA is a smart next step for a young professional. As a Wake Forest alum, I can assure you that you will be as much of an asset to UVA as your UVA education will be to you.  That, my fellow Deacs, is a very good thing.

-Written by Ryan Riccordella

Lessons on the Resume

I didn’t want to do it. I had to succinctly humble-brag through every significant achievement or experience in my life, and I just didn’t want to do it. GMAT? Not too bad after some solid studying. Essays? Pretty straightforward once I knew how I wanted to answer.

Looking down at my measly bullet points, I could tell that this one-pager would take me longer to edit than any paper I had yet conquered. But with April 1 drawing nearer and nearer, I knew I had to start sprucing up my resume. I had to get it ready for the McIntire School of Secrets- I mean, Commerce.

So I reworded and reorganized, added and deleted for weeks. And somehow, all the editing paid off. I impressed the M.S. in Commerce admissions team! I want you to impress them, too, and I know you can do it. (Disclaimer: They’re super nice. They believe in you, too!) But I want it to be easier for you than it was for me, so here’s some sage resume advice from me and two real experts, Molly Baker (Associate Director of Graduate Recruiting) and Alicia Castillo Shrestha (Assistant Director for Career Development).

Rule #1: Keep it to one clean page.

Adjust font size, margins, and layout to design an informative page with an organized aesthetic. Trust me; you can fiddle with formatting to get your life’s work down to one page. This suggestion may seem strict, but our admissions directors (and your future potential employers, for that matter) have to scan through a whole lot of these things. Understandably, then, if you submit a dense, two-page resume, you might prompt this unfortunate reaction from them:

So do them a favor and keep it concise and consistent.

Here’s Molly’s take on this tip: “I immediately check for clean formatting. I want to see the timing, locations, and actionable items of specific leadership/work experience. Keep the resume concise—one page! At this point in time, I believe every student’s resume should be kept to a page if possible. This is not the time to go into a lot of detail about a specific job. Save this for the essay questions! It is great to see just the highlights of what you have done.”

Alicia adds, “Your resume should be only a page, so be sure to format it in a way that works to your advantage!”

Rule #2: Readers love results.

Weave in quantifiable outcomes to direct your reader’s attention to how impressive you are. “What’s the most effective way to implement this tactic?” you may ask.

This is the wrong way:

I’ll let Alicia explain the right way: “Make sure your resume is results-driven! Don’t include just the tasks you completed, but what impact did you have?”

Listen to Alicia, reader.

Rule #3: Watch your language!

So, I totally understand that you’re just writing quick phrases explaining your academic and pre-career experiences. Although this may sometimes seem like rather dry material, that doesn’t mean you can get away with bare-bones wording. I mean, imagine that you had read thousands of resumes. At some point, wouldn’t they all start to sound similar? Take pity on recruiters and use active verbs to describe your amazing, unique accomplishments! Engage your reader with expressive language to leave him/her feeling like this:

…not this:

Rule #4: Believe in your story.

George spent the summer in NYC working with an ad agency on a national brand, working with the client and the creative team on a fall campaign from concept to launch. Maggie assisted with financial data analysis in the economics department for three semesters, mastering SQL and STATA. You…maybe…haven’t done those things.

Heck no! You’re going to take a deep breath and think hard about what you have done. It’s not as if you sat around for four years! There’s a reason you decided to apply to this program. When you take time to analyze the path you’ve carved out with your academics, extracurriculars, and work experience, that reason will emerge.

Maybe you worked at a local ice creamery for two summers, and amid the waffle cones and freezers full of mint chocolate chip, you realized that the intricacies of running of a small business fascinate you. Maybe a year of working part time at a retail clothing outlet helped you develop you into somewhat of a specialist in time management and organizational behavior, and now you’re curious about supply-chain processes and intrigued by national branding. It could be anything!

“Outcomes from work experiences can also be things like knowledge and skills acquired, so be sure to highlight transferable expertise.” – Alicia

“Remember to really focus on specific leadership experiences and relevant internship experience that highlight why you would be successful in business school. Think quality over quantity. How have you been successful in each position you have tackled? Remember that all of our students are coming from non-business backgrounds, but really focus on the skills that you have already developed as a non-business major. Internships are fantastic, but not a requirement for the program.” – Molly

What we’re saying here is that it’s all about crafting a resume that shows how what you’ve done applies to what you want to do. My classmates and I don’t have a ton of business experience already! That’s what we’re all here to learn.

Rule #5: It’s an iterative process.

You’ve finally activated your experience summaries with the perfect expressive verbs and sprinkled in some legitimate quantitative results. The hard evidence is there, and it sounds amazing. Now that you’ve done yourself proud with a thoroughly edited resume, you’re never looking back.

Just kidding.

You’re going to have to customize it for specific applications and modify it every time you acquire new experiences. It seems like there’s always some new update to make. That’s why a fresh pair of eyes always helps—and is even necessary!

“Your career center at your school is a great resource to go over resume templates and provide some great suggestions.”  – Molly

Peers, parents, and other professional contacts in your growing network make awesome editors. Trust me, they love helping with this kind of thing! Probably the most valuable resource, though, is at your fingertips right now: your school’s career center. Take Molly’s advice and benefit from the opinions of these accessible and seasoned experts!

(And if you have time, check out this phenomenal resume editing handout courtesy of Commerce Career Services!)

Rule #6: Personalize your formatting.

That being said, you shouldn’t turn to the pros for all the answers. With increasing pressure to build the ideal resume and with such knowledgeable advisers awaiting your questions, it’s certainly tempting to double-check with career services every time you want to change a section heading from bold to italicized. Alicia can tell you that I have scheduled resume review meetings with her in which I ended up pretty much breaking down into this type of plea:

Alicia understands my plight and smiles reassuringly.

“Format in a way that works for you!” she responds. “Students often ask what sections they should have, and my answer is that it depends! Based on your experiences, it may make more sense to have a ‘Relevant Experience’ section that includes not only internships, but extracurricular activities as well. If you’ve done a lot of volunteering, and want to make sure that’s highlighted on your resume, you could include a ‘Leadership & Service’ section instead of something general like ‘Activities.’”

You know the saying “Dress for the job you want”? Well, as Alicia explains, you can also tailor your resume to the job you want. For example, I rearranged my resume specifically for the Marketing and Management Track when I was applying to M.S. in Commerce Program. After “Academics,” I made my first big section “Marketing Experience,” in which I included each of my internships and leadership positions related to marketing. But that’s just me! And not everyone would even recommend that I order my resume like that. But I like it, and I think it conveys what I want it to. So, I’m keeping it—for now!

Lucky #7: Let your awesomeness wash over you.

If you’ve ever emerged from a resume review meeting slightly overwhelmed by the upcoming overhaul your resume faces, know that you’re not alone. When there’s “so much” to change and you don’t know where to start, resume writer’s block may seem unconquerable.

But it’s all about mindset. Listen to “Imma Be” by The Black Eyed Peas, call your best friend, learn a dance on YouTube—whatever! Do what you need to do to pump self-confidence through your veins, and then the writing will flow much more easily. Allow yourself to be impressed by what you’ve accomplished.


Okay, maybe not that intense. But you get the idea.

Now convert to PDF and click “Submit.” You’re awesome, and someone will see that.

Fluff by: Logan Steele (Social Media Intern & GIF Enthusiast)

Actual advice by: Molly Baker (Associate Director of Graduate Recruiting) & Alicia Castillo Shrestha (Assistant Director for Career Development)