Katharine Petrich is beyond the halfway mark of obtaining a master’s degree in USD’s International Relations program with an emphasis on security issues during wartime and how it affects overall diplomacy.
Two students, two different paths and yet, this summer they’re on campus together, spending significant time adding another layer of expertise to their skills set. Adamany and Petrich are among 11 students participating in the inaugural Summer Business Institute (SBI) program at USD.
Run by the Division of Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) and in partnership with the School of Business Administration, these students — all non-business liberal arts majors or graduate students — are learning basic business fundamentals in finance, accounting, operations and organizational management, marketing, economics, leadership and international business.
“The Summer Business Institute is a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a month-long intensive program that focuses on developing business skills needed to succeed in the current marketplace,” said Jodi Waterhouse, SBI’s program director. “SBI’s interactive classroom environment promotes student learning through case studies, company visits, featured guest speakers and teamwork opportunities to enable students to build strong business foundations.”
So far, so good for Petrich. “Studying what I’m doing in international relations without any business literacy is inhibiting,” she said. “Here I’ve been able to get the very basics and it contributes to my own personal knowledge.”
Said Steve Sumner, associate professor of economics and SBI’s academic director: “It’s interesting to see students who are from all different educational backgrounds come together to learn this new terminology. It’s like learning a new language.”
Students are digesting concepts quickly in this structured program that started May 29. They’re in class from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. five days a week and have a group session from 6-9 p.m. that includes direct access to tutor help from May 2012 USD MBA graduates Daniel Valcazar and Frank Jiang.
“The students have really immersed themselves in the business principles and it’s been impressive to see how far they’ve come,” Sumner said.
Adamany ‘10, who did minor in philosophy and business administration, said topics such as finance, international business and marketing appealed to him upon entering the SBI. He focused on accounting and economics as an undergrad, but added that the SBI has been an opportunity to stay current in all business facets.
“I think the diverse subjects we’re covering is the best part,” he said. “And it’s not just about the academics. We’ve taken field trips to company sites to learn more about how business is run. I’ve learned a lot more about marketing, something I knew very little about.”
Students visited Stone Brewing Company and Cinepolis and will tour Taylor Guitars’ facility later this week. They’ve been taught by some of USD’s nationally ranked business school faculty, including David Pyke, dean of the business school (pictured, above left). Furthermore, four distinguished alumni from USD’s Master of Science in Executive Leadership program — Pat Wade (WD-40 Company), Emiliano Gallegos (Pagasa), Mohammad Karbasi (Solar Turbines) and Gail Sullivan (Ronald McDonald House Charities) — offered their personal stories, business insight and answered SBI students’ questions during classroom visits.
The SBI program concludes June 22 with two student teams giving capstone projects on the financial and marketing aspects of USD Auxiliary Services’ Torero Tu Go mobile food truck which has been operating since late 2011.
“I think our students really get a lot out of the program, a lot of value,” Sumner said. “It’s a chance to gain knowledge to help differentiate yourself. Say you’re an art major, a sculptor. You can do that and make your art, but how do you sell it? Having the business perspective can help make you more successful in the future.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Learn more about SBI through its USD web page and a video presentation.