Gaining career skills and serving the community
From the Fall 2012 issue of Reaching Higher: The Binghamton University School of Management Magazine
By Steve SeepersaudAs a senior at Vestal High School, Ganna Veresotska took a class in personal finance and was interested in learning more. After enrolling at Binghamton University, she searched for a similar class but came away disappointed. Unable to find what she wanted, she worked with other students to create the Personal Finance Association.
The group holds lectures every other week on topics including checking accounts, buying cars and renting apartments. It's basically a Life Skills 101, teaching lessons before they are learned the hard way. Veresotska says the group fits in well with her career goals, as she aspires to be an accountant for a Big Four firm.
"I think being knowledgeable about monetary decisions is important for everyone, especially college students," Veresotska says. "I hope the students who attended the meetings learned valuable skills. That's what our organization is all about."
The Personal Finance Association and other groups are smaller and less well known than the more established organizations within SOM. Yet, they're active, giving back to the school and local community, and providing students with tools they'll need to be successful in life.
Women supporting women
Tiffany Choi, a junior from Queens, founded Women in Business in April 2011, writing the group's charter and going through the Student Association approval process. The club's signature event during the past academic year was a panel discussion and networking forum that attracted more than 100 students and some alumni professionals. Women in Business raised money for breast cancer research through a walk in the Binghamton area and hosted a community service event that educated local Girl Scouts on budgeting, saving money and financial strategies.
"Our main focus is on women supporting women," Choi says. "But we're so much more than just a professional association. We try to introduce a social aspect as well as community service."
For the 2012-13 academic year, Choi is looking to expand the group's reach by creating opportunities for female students to work with female faculty on their research. Women in Business will have a big sibling/little sibling mentoring program, similar to fraternal organizations, and Choi also hopes the group will raise money for a plaque in the SOM lobby highlighting the accomplishments of women in business.
Making national connections
When the Ascend organization was originally established, it targeted Asian accounting students. Now, it's open to students of any ethnicity or business-related concentration. Kevin Eng, a senior from Mahopac, N.Y., joined Ascend during the spring of his freshman year and became increasingly involved through the encouragement of the group's executive board members.
During his junior year, when he served as president, Ascend published a professional development brochure with interview tips and hosted events at which students could explore career options. Eng says Ascend members network aggressively, forming connections with professionals at Big Four firms. On the national level, Ascend sponsors a matching/mentoring program and convention.
"At the convention, you meet with professionals and people from other chapters," Eng says. "It's so important to meet new people, get your name out there and learn what other business students are doing."
A voice for grad students
Graduate students, while fewer in number than undergrads, maintain an active role within SOM. One way is through the Graduate Management Association (GMA), the official organization for MBA and MS accounting students. The GMA keeps a busy agenda of networking and social events throughout the academic year and helps students feel connected to the school and each other.
Tarunpreet Singh, a business consultant for Ernst & Young in New York, who was president of the GMA until he completed his MBA in May, says the GMA experience supplemented what he learned in the classroom.
"I learned a lot about leadership by having the opportunity to lead the group," Singh says. "There was great team-building as we ran different events throughout the year. This organization is a good platform to build the skills that you'll need later on in your career."