Bridge to the Boardroom Gives First-Years Jump-Start on a Career
BY AMANDA O'ROURKE
A new business school program was on the menu of offerings to first-year students who wanted to get a jump- start on their path to becoming a business executive. As part its debut this summer, Bridge to the Boardroom sought to help new students create community and develop networking and personal branding skills.
Coordinated and directed by Anjee Gorkhali, assistant professor of finance and analytics, and Michael Ozlanski ’05, assistant professor of accounting, Bridge to the Boardroom was one of five pre-orientation programs offered exclusively to first-year students through the Office of First-Year Experience the week before classes began. It was made possible by the financial support from Richard Loutzenheiser.
“The program is all about engagement and fostering success,” says Ozlanski. “We hope that if we make connections, build enthusiasm and confidence, and create successes even before the academic year starts, then these participating students should be able to capitalize on that momentum as they move through the rest of their academic career at Susquehanna.”
Over three days, students learned about business consulting, marketing, digital marketing, SWOT analysis, effective presentation skills, and entrepreneurship and networking.
They also spent time with Kelly Feiler, director of the Regional Engagement Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational, recreational and charitable opportunities.
Bridge to the Boardroom students met with Feiler to learn about the REC and develop ideas for future growth opportunities, which they pitched to Feiler in their final group presentation.
“In the course of two days, these 12 students visited the REC, listened to my very large dream for the facility and community, and were able to synthesize and condense their ideas for some of the most pressing issues we've been working on for years into four, 15-minute, priceless presentations,” Feiler said. “This is evidence of powerful and inspired young minds.”
The presentations focused on the four P’s of business: product, price, promotion and placement, which Feiler says were new to her. “This helped reduce my anxiety about organizing a business plan to expand our Teen Business Innovation Zone,” she says.
Separately, the presentations focused on fundraising and marketing as well as specifics for launching a state- licensed childcare facility, a longtime goal of Feiler’s.
The REC’s Board of Directors met the day after the Bridge to the Boardroom presentations and are already acting on the recommendations. Feiler says the REC’s fundraising and marketing committees are using the information presented to them; and Javier Videla, director of youth programming, has already taken information from the presentation on opening a daycare facility to a newly formed committee for that purpose.
“This took at most two hours of my time, and I was rewarded with saved hours upon hours of brainstorming and research that the students did for us,” Feiler says. “The process they develop here — understanding the organization, assessing its potential and responding with recommendations — is something that the students will continue to calibrate in their SWSB courses,” Ozlanski says. “And, it’s something that they will apply when they launch their post-SU careers.”
Olivia Agnoni ’24, of Muncy, Pennsylvania, had been confused about her choice of study as she looked ahead to beginning college in the fall. During her admission process, she chose art as her major, but within months changed it to international business. It was “a big change and a very unfamiliar scene for me,” Agnoni explains.
“After I received the email suggesting a pre-flight [orientation] program, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to experience what a business-focused path of study would look like,” she says.
Agnoni says she enjoyed every topic that was covered during the program and feels uniquely prepared for the Sigmund Weis School of Business rite of passage — the Global Business Perspectives course.
“While listening to the lectures offered by the program, I thought, ‘I belong here, in this classroom,’” Agnoni says. “This program has made me very excited for the rest of my four years here at SU.”