‘The Real World: Business’ came to UC Irvine on Tuesday, April 18. The event was not a visit from an MTV reality show, but the Alliance of Business Students’ second annual series of roundtable discussions between industry professionals and business-minded UCI students. Collaborating with UCI’s Career Center and the Paul Merage School of Business, the ABS was able to create a candid yet professional environment in which students were able to engage with business professionals to answer their questions about potential careers.
The industries represented at the event ranged from accounting to marketing to real estate and investment.
UCI alumna Michelle Candido and Carl Dominguez, both Lending Tree mortgage bankers, were also on hand at the event.
Ronnie Gou, a fourth-year economics major and the co-chair of ABS, explained the intention of the evening’s event.
‘The purpose of ABS is to act as an umbrella organization for other organizations on campus with similar goals and interests. This event gives students an opportunity to be exposed to seven industries and 10 companies that they otherwise may not know about,’ Gou said.
The Paul Merage School of Business offers minors in accounting and management for undergraduates, but for the vast majority of undergraduate students wishing to gain more insight into the real business world, resources are hard to come by.
‘While there are centers, programs and initiatives dedicated to cultural aspects of students, the main goal for students attending college is to secure a future for themselves and there aren’t enough opportunities for students to gain knowledge about professional careers,’ Gou said. ‘The UCI Career Center, led by Kathryn Van Ness, has done a tremendous job of helping students already and hopefully, with the arrival of business majors possibly in fall of 2007, we can see a stronger wave of support for business.’
Gou found that not only were students prepared with questions and inquiries, but also were attentive and discursive with the company representatives.
‘Burt Slusher, the career counselor from the Paul Merage School of Business, was extremely impressed by the caliber of questions he and Kathryn received at their roundtable,’ Gou said. ‘With the Merage School of Business possibly offering majors in the future, it was important to him personally to see that UCI students were prepared and this last event assured him of that.’
This occasion also marked business students’ emerging presence on campus and the cooperation of business organizations on campus to provide valuable resources to students.
‘Since ABS is a young organization, this was a new unique opportunity to talk about their path post graduation. Also, from the more executive level speakers, they loved talking to younger talent, who are the wave of the future. All in all, I would say the event was very successful and exceeded our goals of educating more UCI students,’ Gou explained.
Stephanie Lin, a second-year undecided/undeclared major and an Undergraduate Business Association board member, was pleased with the informative discussions and efficient organization of the event.
‘There was an excellent turnout and people acted very professionally. The event was extremely helpful in helping many of the attendees as well as myself in further developing our level of professionalism, our social networks and understanding of the different industries in business,’ Lin said.
Lin also enjoyed the one-on-one conversation she was able to engage in.
‘The representative from Volt was very enjoyable to converse with. Even though my studies are not catered toward a future career in computer technologies, Volt was still able to provide invaluable advice toward how I could apply it toward a career in finance or accounting,’ Lin said. ‘Overall, the companies that were present at the ABS event understood the ambitions of UCI students to succeed in the business world and provided attendees with information and advice they could utilize to excel in a professional work environment.’
Yu-Jen Wang, a fourth-year psychology major, was impressed with the conference and also found that the conference opened his eyes to business opportunities that he would otherwise not have considered.
‘I hadn’t thought about hotel investment at all before. Actually I didn’t know its existence, but at the conference I happened to sit at a table with a hotel investor, and what he talked about really interested me,’ Wang said. ‘I knew that after the conference I would want to look into hotel investment as one of my career options, as well. That was the biggest thing I learned.’