For first- and second-year women at UVA considering applying to the Commerce School, the Days at McIntire event offers an inspiring learning opportunity that’s not to be missed. The daylong series of essential sessions for prospective female Comm students that kicked off in spring 2019 returned for its second installment this semester with great success.
Initiated to provide brief, effective hands-on educational experiences and networking opportunities with the McIntire curriculum and community, the heavily attended program was expanded this fall to meet demand and, by all accounts, was extremely well-received. It’s the result of an increased endeavor and extensive intention to foster a truly inclusive environment at the Commerce School.
“Our office has been working diligently to create many opportunities for prospective students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to engage more with the McIntire academic environment, curriculum, and community at large,” explains McIntire’s Director of Undergraduate Admission Sadie Royal Collins.
Indeed, Collins’s office has been busy this fall, organizing and supporting an impressive host of events. Their efforts have included sponsorship of UVA’s Multicultural Student Center Free Food Fridays, LGBTQ Center Queer Brunch, as well as women’s recruitment Commerce Lunch & Learns, which pairs McIntire faculty with prospective students. Other program highlights this fall have included EY’s Business Skills Development Workshop and Academic Coaching Program; the UVA Office of African-American Affairs’ dinner and information sessions; Hoos First Look, a mentoring program aiming to bridge socioeconomic gaps at the University; and continued development of the crucial McIntire Commerce Cohort.
And despite all of those beneficial programs, Days at McIntire stands out for its ability to offer what Collins calls a low-stress, high-impact touchpoint for prospective female applicants.
“We designed Days at McIntire to offer more insights into the unique way content is delivered through ICE; how our faculty, staff, and current Commerce students are committed to creating an inclusive educational environment; how companies like PwC are excited to engage with McIntire students and care about an increasingly diverse workforce; and how our incredible alumnae are making a large impact in the business world,” she says.
Guest speakers representing those segments of the community were welcomed students to the event: Rob Vallejo (McIntire ’92), Partner at School Corporate Partner PwC; Kaitlin McDermott, Mid-Atlantic Campus Recruiting Lead and Senior Manager at PwC; and alumna Erin Crum (McIntire ’04).
Crum says the event is extremely important to ensure that female students continue to apply to McIntire. The long-term goal? To continue increase the presence of women in executive leadership roles across the business community—something that is lacking despite the increasing numbers of women earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.
“Pursuing business degrees can help female students to start gaining the skills and experiences they need in their careers even earlier. At the Days at McIntire event, I spoke about my own career path since graduating from McIntire. In telling my own story, I shared examples of the many ways that skills and experiences I gained at McIntire prepared me for each of my jobs and helped shape decisions I made along the way,” she says.
Second-year Amanda “Mandy” Haywood (UVA ’22), who attended both the spring and fall installments of Days at McIntire, remarked that though the inaugural edition of the event helped her better understand what the School was about, some lingering questions brought her back a second time. She also noted that despite the appreciable increase in attendees, the well-organized program supported a welcoming atmosphere.
“I enjoyed the constant enthusiasm from all those involved. Meeting with everyone and hearing everyone’s stories and tips were really helpful and enjoyable,” she says. “Everyone seemed genuinely interested in helping and engaging with the students. It was truly heartwarming. This event definitely enhanced my eagerness and excitement to apply to the Comm School and explore the business world.”
PwC’s Vallejo says that reactions like Haywood’s are the motivation behind the event’s capacity for highlighting “the amazing opportunities for women who pursue education and careers in business,” but also for helping debunk myths about the often misunderstood Commerce School admission process. He believes that in addition to the inimitable networking sessions hosted by the program, the most memorable moments came from first- and second-years meeting and learning alongside McIntire professors.
“The students had an opportunity to participate in an interactive session with the professors like the classroom sessions they would have upon entering McIntire,” Vallejo says. “They were hesitant at first, but quickly began interacting with each other and participating in the classroom discussion. It was amazing to witness the students’ enthusiasm increase throughout the session. Equally important, the students saw the passion from the professors, who make McIntire a special place.”
One of those faculty members, Management Professor Kisha Lashley, who led an ICE (Integrated Core Experience) case simulation in strategy, noted the many positive aspects of the day.
“Days at McIntire is a wonderful opportunity for young women to experience a preview of what it’s like to be a Commerce student,” she says. “The students immersed themselves fully into the class, and with their high level of engagement, I could not differentiate them from my regular students. I was thrilled that they were so engaged—they asked questions, they provided insights, and they collaborated with each other—and the time we had together was over before we knew it. I think these types of experiences are invaluable for students, and I was happy to be a part of it.”
Other case simulations in marketing, accounting, and management took place simultaneously, taught by McIntire Professors Natasha Foutz, Ann Backof, and Jeremy Marcel, respectively.
Ultimately, Days at McIntire supports the McIntire School’s mission of graduating visionary leaders in business, leaders from a multitude of backgrounds and experiences who will provide immediate value to their employers while building an ever-more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Vallejo says that diversity and inclusion aren’t mere buzzwords, but that they represent cornerstones of his industry’s recruitment practices. “Our clients look for us to bring a range of perspectives to projects, so hiring a diverse group of talent is a business imperative for us. We’re thrilled to support an effort to encourage women to study business at UVA.”