MBA Compass Week finds new direction

by Lindsay Lennon,

  • Compass-Week-Larry-Ettner
    AGSM Professor of Management Practice Larry Ettner, left, helps choose PACE teams with the Fall 2016 incoming class of MBA candidates.

Four-day Management Culture and Communication Program added.

The pursuit of an MBA is an experience unlike anything most incoming students came to know as undergraduates: Emphasis on partnership and collaboration is strong; teaching methods are distinct; and expectations for class participation are high.

So it’s only appropriate that Willamette University MBA’s newest cohorts be introduced to the Early Career and Career Change MBA full-time program in a way that’s tailored to the unique demands of an MBA program.

This introduction is made in the form of Compass Week, the first official week of classes for Early Career and Career Change MBA candidates coordinated by the school’s Career Management office. During Compass Week, students officially kick off their journey in graduate management studies with a slew of activities geared toward their assimilation into life at Willamette MBA, including:

  • Getting started with the Practical Application for Careers and Enterprises (PACE) program, which gives students the opportunity to provide valuable consulting services on real-world projects for private, public and nonprofit organizations
  • Participating in professional development activities like cross-cultural and negotiation training
  • Attending a mini-career fair
  • Exploring student organizations
  • Refining resumes and cover letters

“We have been intentional about crafting a program that is relevant and impactful for participants. Every workshop, panel and activity has been carefully selected with the needs of the incoming class in mind,” says Sarah Kutten, assistant director of career management at Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. “(MBA candidates) will be presented with a ton of information throughout Compass Week. We encourage them to take lots of notes, ask questions and use the experience as the launching pad for your success as an MBA candidate and beyond.”

Feedback informs programming changes, improvements

Kutten says Compass Week improves with each year, as the Career Management team leverages student feedback to craft useful and enriching programming moving forward. Faculty involvement in workshops and presentations is always increasing, and professional networking opportunities abound, between the speed-dating-meets-career-fair atmosphere of Career Close-Up; a reception with clients of the PACE program; and a family-friendly community dinner.

However, the popular favorite Compass Week activity among incoming students is an off-campus excursion to a local ropes course, where students put their teamwork skills to the test through a series of physical and mental exercises.

“Compass Week is a super busy time,” says Kutten, “but it is so much fun!”

New additions

This year, each day of Compass Week will have a different theme, and will each contain a reflection component in which the students set goals and develop maps to success for the coming year.

Also new to Compass Week in 2017 is the addition of a four-day-long Management Culture and Communication Program (MCCP), an experience designed to help incoming students adjust to the rigors of the MBA academic experience and management culture in the United States.

Participants will work on team building, take a sample MBA class, learn strategies for effective case analysis, familiarize themselves with expectations for honest and ethical research and writing, and visit local organizations to get a firsthand look at American business culture.

“In order for candidates to be competitive in today’s job market, they need a solid understanding of the complexities and nuances of American business culture and how to navigate these frameworks,” says Kutten. “As an institution, we set out to fill this knowledge gap through the creation of the Management Culture and Communication Program (MCCP).

Adds Kutten, “The program allows students some time to learn about and ease into Willamette University MBA before Compass Week starts.”

Incoming MBA candidates* (or those interested in Willamette University MBA) can find more information, including what to wear on each day of Compass Week and a schedule of events, at Compass Week website or contact the Career Management office.

*Help us prepare for your arrival by completing your Compass Week Pre-Arrival Form no later than July 15.

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