Entrepreneurship in the McIntire & Charlottesville Community

As the semester rolls along, many exciting events are happening around the McIntire community.  Here are two entrepreneurship events that will take place both on and off grounds supported in part by the Galant Center.


Super Demo—hosted by the Entrepreneurship Group at UVA and HackCville—is a regional showcase of and competition for the coolest and most innovative student-developed projects, tech demos, apps, and businesses.  Alexis Ohanian, UVA alum, co-founder of Reddit, and active investor, alongside Peter Rojas, founder of Gizmodo, Engadget, GDGT, and now VP of Strategy at AOL, will be in Charlottesville to judge and give away $3000 in prize money to the best demo!

Applications are due March 1st, and the Super Demo day is April 18th!


Featuring the founders of reddit, Gizmodo, 1776, Maker Faire, The Container Store, Lockn’ Music Festival, and more. The Founders Summit is a day-long exploration into the art and science of entrepreneurship. Hear how leading innovators founded their companies. Meet friends and potential collaborators from across the region at this day of keynotes and panels.

The Summit is April 17 at the Paramount Theater and is integrated into the Tom Tom Founders Festival, an event with over 150 bands on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall!

Charlottesville community enjoying a sunny day on the downtown mall
Charlottesville community enjoying a sunny day on the downtown mall

Each of these events is open to M.S. in Commerce students.  They are great opportunities to test our innovative thinking and explore the Charlottesville community!

Written By: Joseph Labetti

What Have We Learned in 6 Months?


Professor Maillet helping students understand Global Economic Trends
Professor Maillet helping students understand Global Economic Trends

Coming into the M.S. in Commerce Program at the University of Virginia, I really had no idea what to expect when it came to the actual, tangible skills I would learn. From statistical software to strategic theory, so many skills and techniques have been ingrained in my head.  It’s staggering! Consider these questions, for example, and see what tools a M.S. in Commerce student uses to analyze business problems and determine solutions:

  • How many of our customers bought a particular product during a specific time period?
    • SQL: A Structured Query Language, is a way to ask a data set for a specific piece of information. It’s great for looking at purchase data and understanding individual customer purchases.  Through this technique, a company can understand, at least on the surface, basic patterns in customer purchases. It also allows companies to keep better track of inventory and see which products are selling well or poorly. We learned this in Global Strategy and Systems during the Integrated Core Experience.
  • Can we define the different clusters that our customers occupy?
    • SPSS is a statistics engine provided by IBM. I can now take a data set of thousands of pieces and analyze it to see how variables interrelate. Analysis of this data gives companies an understanding of what their customers think of a product and how to implement a marketing strategy and brand their products to customer needs. We learned this technique in Marketing & Quantitative Analytics!
  • What is our strategic advantage?
    • Corporate ecosystem, activity system, and value chain: Each of these tools allows a company to look below the surface and understand the value they bring for the customer and where they sit in a particular industry or market. They are a graphical representation of a company’s strategic position, and the use and creation of each was hammered into us during Global Strategy and Systems.
  • Why is our competition acting this way?
    • Michael Porter’s Five Forces Analysis: Michael Porter , the godfather of modern strategy, identified five forces that shape competition: (1) rivalry among competitors, (2) threat of substitutes, (3) threat of new entrants, (4) bargaining power of suppliers, and (5) bargaining power of buyers. We learned this in our Global Strategy and Systems class.

So what is the big takeaway from the fact that we learn everything from computer coding to marketing analysis and business strategy?  During the M.S. in Commerce Program at U.Va., we are taught in incredible set of skills that allow us to hit the ground running when we start our careers. We are taught to think in different ways, look at problems from multiple angles, and then use a plethora of tools to provide the best solutions possible. Because of this, the program truly sets us up to become the next group of business leaders.

Written by: Joseph Labetti

Applying to Non-Profit Jobs through M.S. in Commerce

kaylee headshotWhen I heard the University of Virginia was partnering with Georgetown University to launch a Government & Nonprofit Career Expo, I knew I had to go. This was a unique opportunity for M.S. in Commerce students to talk to employers from NGOs, nonprofits, think tanks, and government bureaus.

The expo was held at Georgetown University February 13, so fellow classmate Denisse Cortan and I decided to take a road trip up 29 North for the day. I picked Denisse up from McIntire at 8 a.m., where she had just finished printing off some extra resumes and waited with blueberry muffins for the road. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and walked into the hall where several hundred students from UVA, Georgetown University, and University of Richmond were milling around, talking to the 96 companies that had come out to meet us.

The floor of the career expo at Georgetown’s Leavey Center

I made really great connections with a couple of companies, but one in particular caught my eye—UnBoundRVA. UnBoundRVA is a nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia (my hometown!) that helps catalyze high-potential entrepreneurs living below the poverty line. The company’s staff of three was looking to recruit two fellows to add to its team.

As I was learning about the fellows position, one of the co-founders asked me to describe a time when I had to complete a task for work that I didn’t enjoy. Luckily, I brought my A game. Just last week, in our Consulting to Management class in the Marketing & Management Track, Professor Boler had asked us to describe something we didn’t like but were good at. I launched into a story from my summer internship with a microfinance loan hub in Kenya about asking borrowers to repay defaulted loans. It was a great conversation starter! UnBoundRVA had considered various microfinance models when developing its own business development program. We began to discuss our insights about how to best empower entrepreneurs.

Kaylee in Africa
Kaylee Lucas and loan hub employees in Kenya

After leaving the career expo, I  reflected on my job hunt journey. This year, I have set up informational interviews with McIntire alums and attended multiple information sessions through Commerce Career Services. I’m continuing to meet with CCS Associate Director of Career Development Kelly Eddins as I map out my search for a job at a nonprofit. The career expo is an essential piece of the puzzle!

Written By: Kaylee Lucas


Celebrating the Lunar New Year!

The M.S. in Commerce students, faculty, and staff celebrated the Lunar New Year with traditional Chinese decorations, candy and delicious food, music, and games. 2015 marks the Year of the Sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac. The graduate lounge was festooned in red and gold banners, tables were decorated in red with festive centerpieces, and everyone enjoyed the buffet of rice, dumplings, egg rolls, oranges (for good luck), and fortune cookies.

sheepChinese: 羊 yáng
According to Chinese Astrology, the Sheep (Ram or Goat) is ranked eighth of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac and represents solidarity, harmony and calmness. People born in the year of the Sheep are polite, mild mannered, shy, imaginative, determined and have good taste. On the negative side, they are sometimes pessimistic, unrealistic, short-sighted and slow in behavior. Lucky numbers are 3, 9, and 4. Lucky Flowers are carnation, primrose, and Alice flower. Lucky Colors are green, red, and purple.

dhThis is the third year that Director of Graduate Life Sally Armentrout (far right) has organized Lunar New Year celebrations for graduate students at McIntire. This year’s efforts were successfully executed with the help of a student planning committee. Sally remarked, “While I have not had the opportunity to visit Asia, I have learned a great deal from speaking with Chinese students over the years. Their stories of family celebrations make me proud that we as a School recognize this special time for them . . . and it also helps me be sensitive to the homesickness they may be feeling. I am also proud that we take this opportunity to introduce our non-Chinese students to Lunar New Year. No matter our citizenship, I think we can all recognize the importance of family, community, and hope for prosperity!”

dStudents line up for dumplings, rice, egg rolls, oranges (for good luck), and fortune cookies.

FullSizeRender Emily, Cam, Libby, Sarah, and Vanessa celebrate the Lunar New Year.

10620496_1553156898294976_8632303099912597208_oMcIntire graduate students celebrate the Lunar New Year with an authentic Chinese dinner “family-style” at Peter Chang’s.



Student Spotlight: Cameron Boland

Cam's Picture

Name: Cameron Boland
Concentration: Marketing & Management
Undergraduate Institution: University of Virginia
Undergraduate Major: Foreign Affairs
Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Why did you want to be a part of GCOM Council?
I was very interested in becoming Chair of the GCOM Council because it is a direct link to the faculty, staff, and students. I want to be engaged in our community and help create the most positive experience possible for everyone. One year is a sprint, and I want to be in a position to help everyone have a memorable time and get the most out of our year together.

How often do you meet with GCOM Council, and what do you work on during those meetings?
Our Council maintains fluid conversation through email, and we meet in person every two weeks or so. Oftentimes, there are smaller meetings with the point person of an upcoming event. We also meet with the M.S. in Accounting Council to collaborate on any events we are doing together.

What is your favorite part about being on GCOM Council?
I have really enjoyed spending time with the other members and working in a team environment. We all have similar goals for the class and work well together, so executing ideas has developed into a pretty seamless process. And, of course, it’s also really nice to see our efforts pay off when everyone has a great time at our events.

What is the most exciting event you have been able to work on and plan?
I would have to say that the Tacky Christmas Party has been my favorite event so far. Ugly sweaters are always hilarious, and I loved seeing the different outfits.

Why is GCOM Council so important for the students, faculty, and staff?
The GCOM Council is integral to building the McIntire community. The elected representatives have the ability to unite the class and faculty through events that encourage candid conversations and lasting relationships. At the beginning of the year, the staff did an exceptional job setting the pace of the program by creating a strong community. It is the Council’s job to maintain and to build on this foundation through planning a diverse spectrum of events. Plus, with the different sections and tracks, it is especially important to have events that bring the whole program together.

Do you have time to excel in your studies and chair the GCOM Council?
 The time I devote to the Council is time that I enjoy and is a welcome break from my studies.  I have found that time management and having reliable GCOM Council members to help share the workload have been essential to our success. We try to plan events around everyone’s deliverables, which has allowed us to have a lighter GCOM load when we have exams or presentations.

How was the transition (socially) from attending UVA as an undergraduate to now being in a graduate program?
Transitioning from being an undergraduate to a graduate student was a lot easier than I anticipated. In the beginning, I tried to embrace the program and everything it had to offer. I think a large reason I have enjoyed the program as much as I have is because of this willingness to treat the year as a fresh start, as an opportunity to try new things and to meet new people. I challenged myself to become involved in our new community, which has led to an invaluable experience.

What are your plans for next year?
At the conclusion of the M.S. in Commerce Program, I will move to New York City to work for a boutique executive search firm called Henkel Search Partners. HSP specializes in working with private equity firms, hedge funds, other alternative asset managers, and advisory firms across a broad set of geographies and functions.


Written by: Ellie Reed

Summer Internship before the M.S. in Commerce Program

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 9.30.21 PM

The summer before I began the M.S. in Commerce Program, I interned in the Fixed Income Division at Morgan Stanley in New York City. I spent half the summer on the commercial real estate lending desk in the Securitized Products Group and the other half of the summer on the foreign exchange sales desk. At the end of the internship, I received a full-time job offer with a start date of June 2015. I was very excited to accept the offer, but equally excited to be joining the McIntire School of Commerce for the year as part of the M.S. in Commerce Program. The summer had shown me just how much I still had to learn before I would be ready for a full-time job.


I applied to the M.S. in Commerce Program Finance Concentration in the fall of my senior year at Davidson College, where I studied economics as an undergrad. As soon as I heard that I had been admitted to the McIntire School, I began searching for an internship. I was able to list on my resume “Candidate for M.S. in Commerce 2015” and was amazed at how influential a connection to the University of Virginia can be when looking for internship positions. So many employers recognize UVA, and their knowing I was accepted to a graduate business program there was especially beneficial. Had I not been able to say I was attending McIntire for the coming year, I am not sure I would have been considered for the internship, given my lack of experience or knowledge about finance.

On an intern field trip to the New York Stock Exchange
On an intern field trip to the New York Stock Exchange

When I started work over the summer, I found that the connection to UVA was helpful in another way, as there are so many UVA graduates working at Morgan Stanley who were incredibly welcoming and eager to meet all of the UVA interns.

This semester, we started courses in our concentrations, and I am taking four finance classes as well as a seminar course to prepare for the Global Immersion Experience. I will be going to Southeast Asia and am so excited about the global opportunity before starting my full-time job at Morgan Stanley in late June.

Written by: Guest blogger Avery Bernert

Student Spotlight: Eva Pan

Eva on a road trip along California Highway 1 near Big Sur during Thanksgiving break
Eva on a road trip along California Highway 1 near Big Sur during Thanksgiving break

Name: Eva Pan
Concentration: Finance
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Irvine
Undergraduate Major: Business Economics
Hometown: Shanghai, China

What brought you to the M.S. in Commerce Program at U.Va.?
I graduated with a business economics degree and decided to continue exploring a career in business by specializing in finance. I believe that having a deeper understanding of finance will help me succeed in the marketplace in the long run. This mindset brought me to the M.S. in Commerce Program, where the Integrated Core Experience provides an enterprise-wide view of business. This program really stands out from others because of its integrated projects, case studies, and Global Immersion Experience (GIE)! Because I have an international background, I am very passionate about studying the global context of business and taking the opportunity to visit another region of the world, both for business and personal reasons.

How would you compare the M.S. in Commerce Program to your undergraduate studies?
This one-year master’s program is definitely more intense than my undergraduate studies. I have learned so much more here in terms of business knowledge, analytical skills, and interpersonal skills. Also, as you can imagine, the weather in California is so different from the weather in Charlottesville. I enjoyed the sunshine on the beach in California, but I also like the fall at U.Va.

What’s been your favorite part of the M.S. in Commerce Program so far?
We have intense coursework in this program, which puts me under some pressure, but also motivates me to succeed! The best part of the program so far is that we were able to work on a group project for a company and provide recommendations for its current business problems. During a six-week period, we had the opportunity to work in groups and conduct market and industry research, prepare a client report, and present to executives of the company. The experience involved many skills that are important in the workplace. In my group, we were all excited about the project and committed to having a high-quality finished product. In the end, all of our hard work paid off.

What do you hope to do after you graduate from McIntire?
I am interested in possibly becoming a Financial Analyst. This position usually has a steep learning curve, which motivates me to continue to enhance my skill set. Because I previously interned at Citibank in Shanghai, I think working as a Credit Analyst or Risk Management Consultant could also be interesting and challenging. Right now, I am not positive what I want to do after graduation, so I will be open-minded about every opportunity that comes along.

How has where you are from helped shape your future goals and aspirations?
Even though I am from Shanghai, the financial center of China, I realized when I was young that the economic disparity between the rich and poor is huge. I know that education can be very powerful because it can change one’s life, but unfortunately, kids in rural areas of China often have limited access to education. This has taught me that more people need to give back to society in order to build a more accessible educational system. Even though I came to the United States to pursue my academic and career goals, I have the goal to give back to my community in the future.

What are your hobbies?
I like working out! I spend a lot of time jogging and doing yoga. Maintaining regular exercise is very important for me because it makes me happy and gives me confidence. I think it makes the body and mind stronger.

What is your favorite song?
I listen to all kinds of music, in Chinese and English, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite one. Right now, it has to be “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. I love the emotional and inspiring lyrics.

Written By: Ellie Reed

Marketing & Quantitative Analysis Brand Extension Project

IMG_4059During fall semester of the M.S. in Commerce Program we worked on a large brand extension project in our Marketing & Quantitative Analysis class with Professor Netemeyer. As a part of this project, we brainstormed in our project groups about brand extension ideas for companies. The goal was to come up with an idea and use surveys to analyze test runs in SPSS to make a decision about whether or not the brand extension would be a good business move for the company.Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 3.17.24 PM

The project included idea generation, survey creation and implementation, data collection, and running SPSS tests on our survey results which helped us form statistical and marketing recommendations for our report and presentation. The primary analysis and report writing took place during the 10 days before our final exams. The project was work intensive and fast paced, but it really helped dive into the quantitative analysis portion of the class that we had been learning throughout the duration of the course. At the culmination of the project, we watched our classmates present their ideas and work.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 3.16.57 PMIt was interesting to see the different approaches groups took and what ideas ended up being feasible. Ideas included J.Crew creating Yoga Wear, Chipotle creating their own branded hot sauce, Netflix moving into video game streaming, and Altoids creating toothpaste… to name a few! The project was one of the most time consuming and challenging projects of the semester, but it was worthwhile because we all learned so much and got to see our classmates’ hard work!

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 3.17.42 PMWritten by: Ellie Reed

Student Spotlight: Denisse Cortan


Name: Denisse Cortan

Hometown: San Diego, California

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Undergraduate Major: Political Economy

Track: Marketing & Management

How did you choose your undergraduate major?

Political economy is Berkeley’s name for international relations. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study when I came to Berkeley, so I started taking a wide spectrum of courses. When I thought about the courses I had most enjoyed, I realized that they spanned the disciplines of economics, history, and political science. I chose political economy because it’s a great combination of all my interests.

Where did you work the summer before starting the M.S. in Commerce Program?

I accepted an internship with the Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in San Diego. The Export Assistance Center helps companies export their goods abroad, navigate through trade laws, and conducts market research. I really enjoyed learning about different industries. I was constantly learning about changes in trade regulation. I’m sure the office is really exciting right now with the news about Cuba.

Could you describe some of your projects at the Export Assistance Center?

I shadowed trade specialists (industry experts) at client meetings. One of our clients manufactured a Doppler device for icebergs in the artic. They sold their product to research institutions such as universities to track ocean currents. San Diego is a marine tech hub, so we saw a lot of clients working in this field.

What has the M.S. in Commerce Program taught you that surprised you?

This may sound cliché, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is confidence. In a business setting, you can’t be meek and expect your ideas to be heard. I’ve given a lot of presentations this semester, which has helped me immensely.

Was it hard to transition from the West Coast to the East Coast?

It’s definitely difficult. The stereotypes are true—San Diego is very laid back. However, my undergraduate experience at Berkeley prepared me for the M.S. in Commerce Program. In California, we call this type of learning environment a “pressure cooker.” I used to think it was just a Berkeley bubble, but since moving to the East Coast, I’ve realized that this working and studying culture is much more widespread.

What are your long-term career goals?

My dream is to someday be a trade specialist. At the end of my internship, one of the trade specialists left to spear head an office in West Africa. I wasn’t qualified enough to take her position, which is a big part of why I decided to come to this program. In the short-term, I’m interested in working in the public sector. If you want to work in a government job, an advanced degree can help push your resume to the top of the pile and get you an interview. Ultimately, your ability to speak confidently about yourself, your experiences, and communicate effectively will help you land the job.

Do you have any hobbies?

Pop culture! There’s speculation that Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth may be dating.

Written By: Kaylee Lucas

Drew (left) and Bill (right) in their Richmond half marathon shirts

Finals on the Run

M.S. in Commerce students Drew and Bill ran the Richmond Half Marathon, a 13.1 mile race. Both are experienced runners and endurance sport enthusiasts.

Drew has run a half marathon before while Bill participated in a Tough Mudder in West Virginia earlier this fall and ran a full marathon last spring.

Where is your favorite place to run in Charlottesville?

Drew: I really like running around the Downtown Mall and then circling back through the historic area. I’m a history nerd, so running in a small town like Charlottesville that has the university and Monticello all so close makes for great running routes.

Bill: I normally start at my apartment on Wertland Street and loop around the Downtown Mall as well. If I go on a long run, there’s an awesome trail in Crozet along Dick Woods Road. It’s a very hilly gravel trail, which is perfect for training.

How did racing feel? 

Drew: I started in the front of the fastest heat and tried to keep up. By the time I got to mile 7, I was gassed. I finished without having to stop and walk, and I met my goal of breaking 1:40, which is about 7:38 minutes per mile.

Bill: My main goal was to have fun. It was enjoyable to run in a new area. I had only raced in Charlottesville before. In Richmond, races are huge, festive events with spectators everywhere. There are even bands playing alongside the course.

Do you have time to train?

Drew: I was ambitious and started training for the full marathon at the beginning of the semester. After a few weeks, I realized I wanted to prioritize my coursework and the job search over running, but I was confident enough with my training to run the half.

Bill: Yes! Although I didn’t follow any specific training plan due to the schedule of the program, I was in good shape. Plus, Richmond is really flat compared Charlottesville.

Do you have any more races on the horizon?

Drew: I hope to run a marathon in the spring.

Bill: There are so many upcoming races in Charlottesville; it’s hard to choose. These are some of the most popular races in Charlottesville.

Charlottesville Marathon & Half Marathon

Charlottesville Ten Miler

Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler

Charlottesville Men’s Four Miler

Wounded Warrior 5K 

By Kaylee Lucas