Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rolling Out the Red Carpet

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09What a great way to start off the weekend!

Last night I had the opportunity to step in and get a feel for being an Ambassador for the Wake Forest University Schools of Business, attending one of the Red Carpet Weekend events. The two-day program is a special program dedicated to admitted students and their guests, helping everyone get a better feel for the university and all it has to offer. Ambassadors help guide candidates through the weekend, answering questions, making introductions, and just adding to the overall experience.

ext_cam05_donor-plazaI selected the “kick-off” event, which was appropriately named since it was held at the Deacon Tower at the football stadium. We were all greeted at the entrance with a long 15-foot red carpet before riding the elevator up to the second floor. I had made it a personal goal to meet and greet every admitted student, not only to welcome them but to make sure they were plugged into the student blog both now and when they start their programs.

I realized soon after arriving that my goal may have been a bit ambitious. From what I gathered from admissions, there were at least 65 people registered for the event, excluding guests! Thankfully the venue was big enough to accommodate everyone. Another thing I liked about the set-up was the mix of Ambassadors at the event, ranging from students still in the midst of the first year to some who had recently completed their programs.

There was also an abundance of professors and admissions staff, giving prospects a chance to meet many of the faces they will see regularly in just a matter of months. Many also enjoyed the chance to meet each other, swapping brief backgrounds and contact information. It seemed like a well-timed and well-executed early networking event.

For nearly two hours I met dozens of incoming MBA, MA and MSA students, and candidly I wish we actually had more time to mingle so I could have met my individual meet-and-greet goal. One issue on the minds of those who had committed was housing, though most had participated in an apartment tour earlier in the day. Others were keenly interested in how the first semester would be, particularly the transition to life in Winston-Salem. Overall, there was an underlying sense of excitement, especially when dealing with the unknowns of living arrangements, environmental change, etc. Most people I met seemed eager for a challenge!

photo Around 7 pm, we were divided into smaller groups, to the Ambassadors could take admitted students to restaurants around the city. I joined a group of Evening MBA students, feeling that my own experiences over the past year would be best applied in that forum. We took our group to Willow’s Bistro, a cozy restaurant housed in an old brick building on the south end of town.

The lengthy and relaxed meal gave prospects a chance to ask anything they wanted. How do teams work? What are the trickiest classes? How quickly will I get to know everyone in our class? How do you balance your career and a course load? More than anything, we were able to set minds at ease that our program, though challenging, can be enjoyable and manageable.

Wrapping up the evening, I wished that I had made plans for the second day of the weekend (admittedly I have two classes to prepare for instead). The itinerary for day two included lunch with career management staff (a great group to meet early in the process), team-building activities, and a dinner at the Graylyn Conference center. I would have enjoyed the roundtable, where current and past students were set to discuss groups such as the Student Government Association, Wake Graduate Women in Business, the Marketing Summit and the Elevator Competition. (There was also a partners lunch hosted by the Partners Association – something for everyone!)

~ Paul Davis

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