Business at the top of the world
New York businesses beckoned—and 21 Furman students and two professors headed to the economic hub of the United States.
About 60 percent of the students participating in Furman’s Business at the Top of World class during the three-week May Experience program in New York City were business, accounting, or economics majors. They were joined by students from other majors including English, earth and environmental sciences, political science, and psychology.
Led by Dr. Kirk Karwan, Furman’s Robert E. Hughes Professor of Business Administration, and Susan Zeiger, Furman’s director of internship programs, the group toured numerous New York businesses, cultural organizations, and tourist attractions.
To prepare for what they would do in the city and to maximize their potential for learning, the group researched the companies they would visit and heard a presentation from a local marketing firm. After the presentation, they practiced forming insightful, probing questions that would help them learn more about each company on their tour schedule.
The goal of the class was to expose the students to businesses in a major urban economic center while also acquainting students with Furman alumni and other contacts in the city.
But the students took away much more from the experience.
“Besides learning about the state of the economy in New York City—which is strong—the kids got real world advice on what it takes to land a job in a city like New York,” Karwan said.
While on the trip, Kathleen Marsh ’18 discovered that she wants to work in finance and find an internship in New York City next year. “I need to make more of an effort to network because forming lasting relationships seems to be the way to get opportunities,” she said
“I am going to start making connections with individuals, whether at a family gathering, at a Furman event, or at other social events. Having an introverted personality, I used to think of networking in a negative way, but talking to alumni who are so willing to help showed me how easy it can be,” said Allie Buff ’16.
The group toured the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch trading desks, Mircrosoft, SWIFT, Carnegie Hall, LinkedIn, DBRS, Sirius XM, Weitzman Group, Bloomberg, Bayer Health Care, Google, L’Oreal, MDRC, and Index Exchange. The company visits included lectures and discussions with managers who often brought in younger associates, Karwan said. Young Furman alumni were involved in many of the visits.
Jack Benton ’17 learned that GPA isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to landing a job. “I know that grades matter in getting a great job, but until this trip, I didn’t realize how much importance companies place on an individual’s prior experience and ability to learn new material quickly,” he said.
Students visited the R&D lab at Bayer and the Microsoft and Google offices where they experienced new and innovative work environments that they could then compare to more traditional office environments at companies like L’Oreal.
Some of the newer technology companies have open work places, casual dress, and provision of anything an employee might need or want—“anything to encourage you to want to be in the workplace,” Karwan said.
At the Stock Exchange, a couple of the students were allowed to finalize a trade, at LinkedIn they set up their own accounts, and at Sirius they met rapper 50 Cent.
It wasn’t all work. The group had dinner events with young alumni in the city, visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walked about the High Line in Chelsea, toured the garment district, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the 9/11 Museum, attended an alumni event at the New York Athletic Club, and took in a New York Yankees game, dining on Stadium Terrace. Armed with subway passes, the students also explored the city in their free time.
When asked what he took away from the program, Logan Hayslett ’16 said, “I am going to update my LinkedIn, ask employers for advice on entering their careers, and I also learned that it’s important to gain a few years’ work experience before entering an MBA program.”