Opening a New Office Space

    UCSD may not be just for the scientific minds. A flourishing number of students, faculty and administrators are catching on to a new trend on campus – business. The appearance of new organizations, seminars and a business school are just some of the campus’s bids to bolster its business profile.

    Richard Pham/Guardian

    Six out of 10 UCSD graduates go directly into employment. Thirty percent of those students start out in the technology industry, but just behind them, 29 percent enter business fields. Of the 40 percent of students who go straight into graduate school, only 3 percent enter an MBA program, but most programs encourage students to experience a few years of employment before applying.

    Several student organizations focus on developing business skills and fostering connections in the business world. The Future Business Leaders of America Phi Beta Lambda hosts several events every month, including skill-building events on leadership issues and social events. Venture Forth offers entrepreneurial contests and professional workshops featuring guest speakers.

    Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed business fraternity, started two years ago, offers training to management science majors. It functions like a Greek fraternity because it holds a rush and pledge period every quarter, but its professional events, featuring recruiters from Enterprise and sponsorship from Kaplan, and its co-ed status make it different from the Greek system.

    Wilson To, a John Muir College junior and member of Alpha Kappa Psi, one of the few co-ed business fraternities, said that although UCSD is thought of as a science and engineering school, business continues to thrive in the community.

    “”With the Rady School becoming more established on campus, focus on business is likely to increase,”” said To, who plans to become an optometrist. “”Business skills are essential to [my] success. Choices in business operations, budgeting and marketing practices often make or break private practices.””

    To said he believes that business training is critical for UCSD. Science majors, he reasoned, will not work with just other science majors after graduation. People from varying fields will need to work with each other in a coherent way, so it is necessary for those interested in science or art to learn a little about business.

    “”Life will force everyone to work with everyone else,”” To said. “”Business majors will work with visual arts majors, biology majors, history majors – the whole works.””

    The swelling business activity on campus may have to do with companies’ constant demand for graduates with better communication, leadership and management skills. The Job Outlook 2006 report, published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, lists all three of those skills as highly desired by companies hiring recent graduates. Employers, the report said, are often disappointed by the lack of basic business know-how in their recent hires whose GPAs and academic backgrounds were strong. Also, employers expect students to be professional during the interview process – and many students, according to the report, don’t know what that means. These types of skills are not typically addresed in a classroom environment, unless that class focuses on business.

    Currently, UCSD does not offer an undergraduate business program. The Rady School of Management, however, is hoping to offer a business minor in the next few years. The closest thing to an undergraduate business degree at UCSD is the economics department’s management science major, which currently enrolls about 900 students. There is also a popular business management certification program offered through the UCSD Extension program, which includes classes like organization management, communication skills and leadership for the cutting edge.

    The Rady School was named after Ernest Rady, a prominent yet reclusive local businessman, who gave $30 million to the school in early 2004 – the second largest donation in UCSD’s history, topped only by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife Joan Jacobs’ gift of over $100 million to the campus’s engineering school. In addition to its MBA programs, the Rady School is offering two undergraduate courses during spring quarter that focus on applicability of tactics and less on business theory.

    “”I think all students should have at least some understanding of business practices,”” Rady Scool Assistant Dean Clark Jordan said. “”Some understanding and skills in these areas are very useful, particularly for those students who want to work in San Diego’s rather entrepreneurial community.”” The two courses, Innovation to Market and Business Project Management, were full the first day of registration.

    A number of UCSD alumni have gone on to become successful in business fields, including the CEO of locally based Sunset Parking Michael Harth, and shopping Web site Shopzilla.com President William Glass. Glass also obtained an MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania – a school that the Rady school aspires to equal someday.

    The Career Center also offers several resources for students interested in business careers. It frequently hosts informational sessions about applying for business school. Its extensive internship database carries several management-focused internships. The center’s career fairs continue to attract companies with excellent entry-level management training programs. For example, Enterprise offers an extensive training program for its new hires, and boasts that every employee of the company went through the program. Target, Progressive and Pulte Homes offer similar programs, and these companies continue to hire large numbers of UCSD graduates.

    “”I think some business knowledge is important for everyone, whether he or she works in a profit, non profit, commercial, educational or governmental organization,”” Jordan said. “”Business principles and practices have wide applicability.””

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