An international consulting project, QuantCamp, the MBA orientation program!

Every MBA program is intensive, rigorous, and transformative. Enter the MBA orientation program. In the MBA orientation program at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University, MBA students are given the opportunity to build connections, strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills, and upgrade their quantitative skills. We spoke to Alex Markle, Director of the Full-Time MBA at Fordham University, to learn more about this unique MBA orientation program, called Gabelli Launch.

In short

The ultimate MBA orientation program with Gabelli Launch

Gabelli Launch is the required orientation program for full-time MBA students at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University.

“As the name implies, the intention is to give students an initial boost to accelerate their transition back into full-time academics and to prepare them for the job market,” says Alex Markle, Director of the Full-Time MBA at the Gabelli School of Business. “The first year of an MBA program can be hectic and stressful for students. Gabelli Launch is intended to ease that transition and ensure that all of our students can have a successful experience.” (00:20)

Gabelli Launch is designed to help students establish connections, build leadership and teamwork skills, and refresh their quantitative skills. Students will also engage with the school’s Career Development Center to kick off their career development journeys.

What makes this MBA orientation program unique

While many other schools and MBA programs include orientation programs, Gabelli Launch kicks it up a notch.

In the final weeks of Gabelli Launch, students are put into teams to work on a consulting project. Alex explains, “At the culmination of our Launch program, we have a consulting project with an international NGO. This is a real client looking to our MBA students to help provide solutions to the real challenges they face.” (04:31

The MBA teams will actually travel to meet with the client and present their work in the client’s home country. “During that trip, they’ll get to learn about doing business overseas [and] engage with some culture and service-based activities,” Alex tells us. “I don’t know of other MBA programs that get their students involved in a real-world, client-driven project like that so early in their experience.” (05:01)

Another unique aspect of Gabelli Launch is the opportunity for incoming MBA students to network with second-year students. “One of the things our incoming class is most excited about is to hear from and network with the second-year students,” Alex reports. “We organize panel discussions so the incoming students can hear about the experiences of the second-year class, both in terms of academics and their experiences in the internship search.” (03:37)

Getting up to (quantitative) speed with QuantCamp

Another unique aspect of Gabelli’s MBA orientation program is “QuantCamp,” one week of self-paced and guided learning on basic finance, accounting, and statistics skills.

One of the goals of Gabelli Launch is “to ensure that everyone has the quantitative skills needed to excel in a rigorous academic environment.” (05:30) While some students might have experience utilizing those skills on a daily basis, many do not. QuantCamp ensures that students are ready for the quantitative courses they’ll take during the MBA program.

Besides the final consulting project and QuantCamp, Gabelli Launch also offers skill-building workshops. Alex says, “Students will have the opportunity to get Bloomberg-certified. They’ll have sessions on presentation skills and executive presence. They’ll learn the basics of Tableau, a software platform for data visualization that’s widely used in the industry, and they’ll learn how to be successful at cracking case-based interviews.” (06:11)

Getting a headstart on career development

In Gabelli’s Full-Time MBA Class of 2020, 98% of the students who were seeking an internship during graduate school successfully found a competitive placement. In the same class, 72% of the students seeking employment accepted an offer within three months of graduation.

It’s difficult not to attribute this to effective programs like Gabelli Launch and Launch2Landing, a two-year career development program designed to “aid students in narrowing their career objectives and start creating materials to begin that job search.” (08:18)

“We want students to get started early on in career development,” Alex tells us. “Interviews for summer internships happen early and we want students to start thinking about possible career paths, polishing their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles, working on cover letters, learning about the hiring environment in different industries, and preparing for interview processes right from the start.” (07:49)

Doing business with purpose with a culture of rigor and support

With rigorous programs – including its MBA orientation program – Fordham University pushes its students to do and be their best. But, they also have “a very strong culture of caring,” as Alex puts it. (07:11)

“We try to push students to put themselves out there while also maintaining a space where they feel comfortable to do that,” Alex says. (08:48) Teamwork and group projects play a key role in building the ambitious, yet comfortable, environment Fordham offers. “It gives them a chance to put themselves forward, but in an environment that’s comfortable and provides supportive feedback.” (09:10)

Fordham’s culture of risk-taking and rigor, combined with a caring environment, demonstrates the school’s mission towards business with purpose. Its MBA orientation program alone offers enriching international experiences and important opportunities to upskill, leaving MBA students well-equipped to not only take their careers to the next level, but also to use business to improve the lives of others.

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