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The University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business presents Bearcats Mean Business, a new podcast where you’ll hear about what it takes to gain admission to, continuously achieve and grow at a leading co-op business school.

Expert faculty, passionate staff, driven students and industry-leading alumni share their experiences harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit, tapping into a passion for innovation and gaining professional experience to become empowered business problem solvers.

Find Bearcats Mean Business on Spotify, YouTube and Amazon Music.


New episode: UC Board of Trustees Chair & Lindner alumnus Phil D. Collins

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Phil D. Collins.

UC Board of Trustees Chair and Lindner alumnus Phil D. Collins stops by to offer personal and career advice for students, and to emphasize the power of engaging with Lindner and UC.

Collins, the founder and CEO of private equity investment firm Orchard Holdings Group, also details his time working for Carl H. Lindner and his family’s deep UC roots.

Marianne Lewis: (00:00)

Welcome to another episode of Bearcats Mean Business, the official podcast of the University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business. My name is Marianne Lewis, Dean and Professor of Management at the Lindner College of Business, and today I'm joined by a very special guest, UC Board of Trustees Chair and Lindner alumnus, Phil D. Collins. Welcome, Phil.

Phil D. Colins: (00:25)

Thanks for having me, Marianne. It's great to be with you here today.

Marianne Lewis: (00:28)

Phil, you have deep UC roots. I'd love you to share a little bit more about your personal background.

Phil D. Colins: (00:34)

Sure. I think I was destined to become a Bearcat. I was born and raised here in Cincinnati. My grandfather and grandmother were both affiliated with UC. My dad was recruited out of high school by the legendary coach, Sid Gillman, to be a quarterback at UC, which is another long story. My mom and only sister attended UC. I met my wife in high school and we attended UC together. And my dad made it really simple for me. He said he would pay for anywhere I wanted to go to college, as long as it was UC. And so that made it pretty easy to decide to come here.

Marianne Lewis: (01:08)

Okay, Phil, that's remarkable and not something we see in a typical bio. Thank you for sharing that. You know, I think one of the other pieces of your story that always gets to me and I think is worth talking a bit more about is that you have a really unique past in that you worked with Carl H. Lindner, both as a student and as an early career professional. Tell us a bit more about that experience and what it meant for your career.

Phil D. Colins: (01:32)

I did. It was an amazing experience. Carl had a program where he would hire students from UC to come work in his office on nights and weekends. And he generally worked around the clock and needed somebody to be available in the off-hours when the office was otherwise closed. And so I would go down there at five o'clock after school, and stay basically until he went to bed, and work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends. And it was remarkable how much of that time he was active in working and all of his inbound and outbound calls from leaders of business and finance, to community leaders to U.S. presidents, all came through the phone on my desk during those hours. And so it, it happened to be during the period where he was at his most active and prolific, during the Drexel, Milken, Predators' Ball days.

Phil D. Colins: (02:23)

And when he acquired Taft Broadcasting and moved Chiquita Brands and Penn Central both to Cincinnati, and all of the characters you can imagine from that era would come through our office. Often, you know, I would actually go pick them up at the airport and bring them to the office. And, it was just an unbelievable experience that, as a kid from Cincinnati who didn't know anything about anything, really opened my eyes to a whole world that I didn't know existed. And I have a life's worth of incredible stories from that time. My favorite is a prank that I orchestrated him playing on Donald Trump, and I'll save that whole story for another day, but it's it's quite entertaining.

Marianne Lewis: (03:02)

Oh, please don't save it too long.

Phil D. Colins: (03:03)

And one of many.

Marianne Lewis: (03:05)

Okay. Before you talk about your professional career, I guess, one thing I'm curious if you don't mind, I mean, one of the, I think great beauties of this gorgeous building that we get to live and work in every day, is the quotes from Carl, from Mr. Lindner, around on so many of our walls. And I wondered if there was something that he would say that is burned in your brain, because I love seeing those lines.

Phil D. Colins: (03:32)

Yeah, well, the funny thing for me about those quotes is that, as you may know, he had a stack of cards that he had printed up that had many of those quotes on it. And one of my jobs was to be the collator of those cards. And so, I spent many an hour, nights and weekends, collating those cards. And you know, one of the things that was, I think generally one of the top cards was, his expression only in America, gee, am I lucky. And he definitely believed that. And I think it's one of the reasons that he gave back so much. And, but he had a bunch of great sayings. People work with me, not for me.

Marianne Lewis: (04:15)

Mm-Hmm.

Phil D. Colins: (04:15)

I see them all around the building.

Marianne Lewis: (04:17)

And both of those are on walls that I can, the gee I'm lucky, I can picture downstairs and I love that.

Phil D. Colins: (04:23)

It always brings back great memories for me when I see 'em on the walls around here.

Marianne Lewis: (04:26)

Me too. How about professionally? How did that experience lead into your professional career?

Phil D. Colins: (04:33)

You know, I mean, it opened my eyes to a whole world that I didn't know existed. And, you know, he was very active at that time in, you know, with the evolution and emergence of the leveraged finance markets. And what became, we didn't know what to call it at the time, but what became the private equity industry. And I think that, you know, that really got me exposed to that whole world in a way that I would've never had an opportunity to before. And that evolved, you know, my during school job evolved into, I added after I graduated a daytime financial analyst job to my night and weekend working-for-Carl job. So, at that point, like him, I was working 24 hours a day, but, also got some great exposure and learning from that experience.

Marianne Lewis: (05:24)

That's remarkable. And, and you're right, so much was changing in that pivotal time in our economy and in our world. From where you sit now, Phil, both through your career, but also as chair of the Board of Trustees, I'd be interested in hearing what makes Lindner special to you.

Phil D. Colins: (05:40)

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that my experience here dramatically changed the trajectory of my life, which is the reason I feel so passionately about this place and feel compelled to give back. The experiences I had here, you know, as a student leader, the opportunities that were opened up for me here, really set me on the path of the rest of my career. And I'm just eternally grateful for that, for those opportunities and the impact that this place has had on me.

Marianne Lewis: (06:07)

You've seen probably more and more of other schools just in your role even as a parent, as well as on the Board of Trustees. Do you think there are things that make us distinctive?

Phil D. Colins: (06:18)

Yeah, I mean, I think, one of the great things about a large university in a kind of vibrant urban setting is the ability to interact with the community and business leaders and it just presents, I think, incredible opportunities. A large university provides the opportunity to have a number of things to get involved in on campus, leadership opportunities of all kinds. And that engagement in a large campus community, I think gives you this incredible experience that serves you well throughout your life. And then ultimately, the co-op experience, you know, I think it's unbelievably valuable. It wasn't just invented here. We do it better than anybody else, and I think we'll continue to innovate to keep experiential learning at the core of what UC stands for. And, getting out in the world and getting real experience really helps you figure out where your passion is, and what you're gonna love to do. And, and that's really important. You can't figure that out in the classroom. And it turns out that that's actually the most important thing. And I think it's a unique opportunity that we have here, both because of how important co-operative education is here, but also being in this, kind of vibrant, business community.

Marianne Lewis: (07:34)

Phil, I love those insights in terms of our distinctions, and I think it's so helpful for prospective students and their parents to understand. I'm also curious about your advice for current students, those really living the Lindner experience, the UC way now. What would you tell them?

Phil D. Colins: (07:50)

Yeah. My experience is, the most valuable thing you can do as a student is get involved in some way, whatever way, with no disrespect to the great learning and scholarship that happens here. It's the richness of, you know, being an engaged student that will linger with you in your life, and both the learning experiences and the people that you get from that stay with you. My experience in student government and ultimately my time as student body president was, you know, probably one of the most formative experiences of my life in terms of developing life and professional skills. And it wasn't just a great experience. It opened a bunch of doors for me. And to this day, my best friends are people with whom I had that shared experience. And those are really great and unique, bonds that you value in your life.

Phil D. Colins: (08:39)

And it's amazing to me how much responsibility you can get and how much impact you can have by just taking a little bit of initiative to get involved. I wandered into the student government one day early in my freshman year and, you know, asked about opportunities to get involved. And, you know, the rest, as they say is history. And, I think it's just so vital to getting the most out of the experience here. And, again, it's one of those ways in which having a large community can really give you unique opportunities.

Marianne Lewis: (09:16)

You know, Phil, you make me proud, but also want to push further on the innovations that we're doing at Lindner to weave together the curricular, the co-curricular and the professional, right? What's happening in the classroom, what's happening in our student organizations, student government, and what's happening on co-op. And you've said so much, I think, of value that I hope our students and prospective students are listening to on both the professional side and the co-curricular. Can you share a little bit more about how you made the most of your classes, our faculty?

Phil D. Colins: (09:47)

Yeah. So I'm a big believer that, you know, life unfolds through following your curiosity and you have the opportunity to do that in the academic environment. And, so for me, there was kind of a unique combination of my work experience and my academic experience in that, you know, I worked in this environment where at the time, Carl Lindner was very active in the evolution and invention of the leveraged finance markets and what became the private equity industry at the time. It was, you know, the corporate raider moment. And so I did my senior thesis on, it was called Sharp Repellants in the Market for Corporate Control, about, you know, some of the things that were evolving on the technology of repelling hostile takeovers.

Phil D. Colins: (10:39)

And one of the things I discovered during that process was an behavioral economist named Michael Jensen, who did a lot of seminal work around that, the market for corporate control. And that work evolved into work around this evolving thing that we didn't know what to call it at the time, but ultimately became the private equity market. And I was very intrigued by his work. He was at the University of Rochester at the time, but happened to move to Harvard. And that was part of the impetus for me deciding that, I thought I'd try to go to Harvard, because not only did they not require the GMAT at the time, which I didn't have time to take and probably wasn't smart enough to get into Harvard if I took the GMAT. But also, you know, he had gone there and it gave me an opportunity to actually meet with and study under him. And that was a phenomenal experience that ultimately led to my decision to try to go into the private equity industry. And so, you know, it was, I think the combination of that experience, work experience that I had during school, tying to, you know, kind of pursuing the curiosity on the academic side that ultimately kind of shaped the path of where I went in my career.

Marianne Lewis: (11:49)

Yeah, and really making those pieces fit together so purposefully. Well, and I say purposefully, but I often, when we're talking to students, I think it can look like it was all planned. I know it's not all planned.

Phil D. Colins: (11:59)

Yeah.

Marianne Lewis: (11:59)

Lots of right, bobbing and weaving throughout your career to get to where you are.

Phil D. Colins: (12:05)

Absolutely. And that's, you know, I have so many stories about how things just evolved in a very serendipitous way. One of the things I tell young people that think they've got it all figured out about how their life is gonna unfold is, you know, just, you know, follow your curiosity. Follow your passions and, you know, serendipity will kind of take care of the rest and things will unfold in a mysterious and unexpected way. And if you over-program it and try to over-plan it, actually you maybe miss some of the best opportunities that really create the kind of energy that you need to, you know, to generate sustained success. And that's why I think, you know, pursuing your curiosity and passion is so important.

Marianne Lewis: (12:52)

I just have to say Phil, serendipity is one of my favorite words.

Phil D. Colins: (12:54)

Me too.

Marianne Lewis: (12:55)

I define it as planned luck, but I think your examples are exactly what I always think of.

Phil D. Colins: (12:59)

Yeah. Well, it goes back to one of Carl's other great quotes, which is the harder I work, the luckier I get, which I also see posted around the building here. And that has definitely been my life experience.

Marianne Lewis: (13:12)

Shifting slightly. I'd love to talk about alumni because your engagement, I mean, you certainly made the most of your time here on campus and it continued even when you were on the West Coast, you stayed involved. Share a little bit more about what you think is the power of engaging as an alumni.

Phil D. Colins: (13:30)

Yeah. I stayed engaged to the extent I could when I was out on the West Coast. But for me, when we made my wife and I and our family made the decision to move back here, you know, one of the kind of unexpected gifts that that presented for me was the opportunity to really get engaged. And you know, for me, I owe so much to this place. It's an opportunity for me to give back. I feel a close connection and owe a lot of gratitude. And it's just been incredibly rewarding for me to see the growth and development of this institution since I was a student here. And the opportunities it creates for students, the role and impact that this institution has in our community. It's just so far ahead of where it was when I was a student.

Phil D. Colins: (14:15)

And, as a result, it just creates these incredible opportunities for students. And I kind of look forward to seeing what this generation of students can accomplish. You may have seen a Stanford professor who did this predictive index for producing unicorn startups puts UC at the top and number one of universities for the potential to create unicorn startups. And, I think they're ahead of the curve on figuring out what others will learn about this place. And so, and then the final thing is I just, I care about this community, the Cincinnati community, and I think having a thriving, world-class, research university is essential to creating a vibrant and thriving community. And, UC's elevation has been, and I think will continue to be, a critical part of the elevation of this community. And it's been, you know, fun and rewarding for me to be able to play a tiny role in helping to advance that.

Marianne Lewis: (15:15)

Well, you certainly are. We're very grateful to you, Phil. Before we wrap up, I'd love to give you the opportunity to help us learn more. Is there, parting thoughts from you?

Phil D. Colins: (15:25)

Well, we covered a lot of ground there, Marianne, you're a great podcaster already.

Marianne Lewis: (15:31)

<laughs>.

Phil D. Colins: (15:31)

I guess, you know, my parting thoughts would just be, you know, take initiative to get involved, follow your curiosity, pursue your passion, and serendipity, both of our favorite word, will take care of the rest.

Marianne Lewis: (15:44)

Oh, absolutely. My heartfelt thanks to Phil for stopping by today and for all you do for this university, continuing to raise the bar and help us thrive. And a friendly reminder to all, you can listen to Bearcats Mean Business on Spotify, YouTube or Amazon Music. And if you can spare a few minutes, please subscribe, rate and review us on those platforms so we continue to improve and innovate. Be safe, be well, go Bearcats.


Episode archive & transcripts

Episode 3_Bella Gullia

What is co-op, and how can I get one? What makes co-op at Lindner unique? How can a student expand their network without co-op or job experience?

Lindner Career Services Assistant Director Bella Gullia answers these questions and more, offering support and guidance to current and prospective Lindner students.

Grant Freking: (00:00)

Welcome to another episode of Bearcats Mean Business, a new podcast from the University of Cincinnati's, Carl H. Lindner College of Business. My name is Grant Freking, Manager of College Communications and marketing Lindner, speaking to you from the second floor of Lindner Hall. Today I am joined by Bella Gullia, an assistant director in Lindner's Career Services office, to demystify co-op at Lindner. Thanks for joining me, Bella.

Bella Gullia: (00:22)

Hi Grant. Thanks for having me.

Grant Freking: (00:24)

Alright, let's start simple. What is co-op and what makes co-op at Lindner a unique experience for our students?

Bella Gullia: (00:30)

Yes. So co-op stands for cooperative, and in the Lindner College of Business we have a lot of flexible ways a student can obtain a cooperative experience. Ultimately it needs to be a paid professional opportunity that is related to a student's business degree here in Lindner.

Grant Freking: (00:49)

There's also been some changes to the way we do co-op at Lindner, some exciting new developments. Tell us more about universal co-op and what, uh, our first-year students are are partaking in this year.

Bella Gullia: (00:58)

Yes. So as we have been looking to expand and grow as a college and also a university, we've recognized the need for a co-op requirement for our students here in Lindner. And the nice thing about adopting this is that it's already very much in the culture here at Lindner for students to be going on co-op.

Grant Freking: (01:21)

Sure is.

Bella Gullia: (01:21)

So, over the next few years we've already started and we will be continuing to roll out this requirement. Our Honors students have a three co-op requirement in order to graduate that started last year.

Grant Freking: (01:34)

Yep.

Bella Gullia: (01:34)

And then next year, fall of 2024, we will have a co-op universal requirement for all traditional first-year students to do two experiences, two co-ops before they graduate. In the in-between, this year, we have rolled out a program called the co-op Trailblazer Scholars Program, where we had over 200 students apply to be part of this program. They opted in to say, yes, we want to commit and do two co-ops before we graduate college. And so we've been meeting with this program, these students, in individual meetings as well as specialized events and sessions very tailored to towards them to help them find success in obtaining co-ops quicker, that are quality experiences for them to, to get in order to graduate.

Grant Freking: (02:22)

Sure. And what was the sense you've gotten, what is the sense you've gotten from students as to why they opted in? Like as you mentioned, it's a voluntary opt-in. What are some of the reasons you've heard from some of our first-year Trailblazer Scholars about why they decided to take up this requirement?

Bella Gullia: (02:37)

Yeah. Well a lot of them when we ask, you know, why did you come to UC, why Lindner? A lot of them was they were already saying, you know, I really wanna be part of a co-op program. And so as we've been rolling out this opt-in program for students, we've noticed, you know, they wanna make that commitment 'cause they know it's part of the brand of UC to, to go on co-op to have that professional experience. And so they are committing, they're really excited and interested from the jump to say, yes, I want that to be part of my degree requirement. And again, it's very much in the like culture of our college to do this. And so the fact that they are going a step further and committing that they want it to be part of their academic requirements, I think speaks to that culture. But also their excitement and interest in really diving into it.  

Grant Freking: (03:24)

Sure. It's like almost like a recommitment of like why they decided to come to Lindner in the first place, 'cause they probably wanted to co-op at some point, but now this is kind of offering them an early pathway kind of, sort of.

Bella Gullia: (03:33)

Exactly. And some of the specialized events we've been doing with them has been, you know, helping them expand their network sooner, make more relationships with employers and alumni earlier on than if they would've waited to sophomore or junior year to start exploring an internship opportunity, which could be looked at as a little different.

Grant Freking: (03:53)

Sure. Let's shift a little bit to your office and Lindner Career Services. Uh, explain to our listeners how Lindner Career Services works for students, but also works for our employer partners.

Bella Gullia: (04:04)

Yes. So something really unique about Lindner Career Services at the University of Cincinnati, we are the only career center across the whole university that is dedicated in-house to, in our case the college of business, which is really special because through that we're able to take a major-specific approach. So,

Grant Freking: (04:23)

Right.

Bella Gullia: (04:23)

across our office, we have a career coach dedicated to every single major in the Lindner College of Business. This is really special because students are able to make specific and tailored relationships with our office and with their career coach in ways in which that we're then able to see like, okay, here are your interests, here are your skill sets, you're just getting started. Here are some really great opportunities that would be great for you specifically. Or, oh, you've had a few co-ops already. Here are some other great opportunities that is kind of like the next level up. And we have that relationship with these students because of this model.

Grant Freking: (05:01)

That personalized approach has to mean everything to the student too, especially once you get them past the, maybe that first introductory meeting where maybe they're a little anxious or nervous to talk to a stranger working in a career services office. But once you get past that first meeting, I imagine that they kind of open up and they tell you a little bit more about their interest and then you can use your experience and point them in the right direction.

Bella Gullia: (05:20)

Yeah, it's really special and it's, I think the thing I love most about what I do is that I get to build relationships with these students and see them from, you know, first year not really sure what I wanna do all the way through graduation of like, wow, I've, I've pieced everything together of who I am and what I'm interested in. And I've gotten to kind of walk alongside that.

Grant Freking: (05:41)

Bella, how does Lindner Career Services support students who are actually enrolled in the universal co-op program, the Trailblazer Scholars?

Bella Gullia: (05:47)

Yes. So as I mentioned, we meet with students one-on-one, we call them individual coaching appointments. We also, through our office teach a class called Career Success Strategies. It's a first-year class. All of our trailblazers are enrolled in it. And in that setting we're going over a lot of big picture pieces to finding a co-op, creating your resume, interviewing, networking, navigating a career fair. So they're getting that broadly in the classroom, but then also more detailed, more specific.

Grant Freking: (06:19)

Sure.

Bella Gullia: (06:19)

in our coaching appointments. And then in addition to all of that, we are having specialized events for the trailblazers. So we had two in the fall, our initial meeting where all of the trailblazers got to meet one another. They got to meet our team, Career Services, and we went over kind of, you know, what does it look like to be a trailblazer? What will this experience look like for you this year? What are your commitments? We also had an alumni panel, which was great for the students to, again, expand their network, meet alumni, understand what you can do with various degrees because it's not always a linear path. Right. And then this spring we'll be having a few other specialized events, with the big end-of-year culmination being, a large like networking, kind of speed dating type event, where hopefully again, students are expanding their network meeting employers, making those professional connections that will then lead to co-ops.

Grant Freking: (07:13)

So it sounds like a combination of giving them the big picture, showing them the career outcomes, but also the personalized sort of step-by-step approach that what your office can provide to them.

Bella Gullia: (07:22)

Yeah, and it's, it's nice too, because our office not only is working with students, but we also work directly with employers. And so sometimes, you know, we'll have an employer come to us because we have this very specific model, Hey, I need a finance student for this type of position. Do you know anyone? And because of these relationships that we have with our students, we're able to make those direct connections, which is really special.

Grant Freking: (07:45)

Students go see your career counselors in Lindner Career Services.

Bella Gullia: (07:48)

Yeah. Come see us.

Grant Freking: (07:49)

So what are some common and maybe some unorthodox ways for students to gain co-op experiences, whether they're first-year students, which is a little bit tougher, admittedly for them.

Bella Gullia: (07:56)

Mm-Hmm.

Grant Freking: (07:56)

But in their second, third years especially.

Bella Gullia: (08:00)

Yeah. Some common opportunities or ways in which co-op can look like. Of course we have the summer experience between the academic years. I think that's a very, very common way.

Grant Freking: (08:11)

A popular one, yeah.

Bella Gullia: (08:11)

For students to do a co-op. It really should be 10 to 15 weeks. Anything less than 10 weeks, you won't really gain a lot of skills.

Grant Freking: (08:21)

Mm-Hmm.

Bella Gullia: (08:21)

or experiences that you can speak to later on. So that would be a common way. We also, again, we offer very flexible options for students. So we see a lot of students who will co-op in the fall or in the spring and offset their classes. Maybe they might take them over the summer so they can do a full-time, spring co-op. So those are the common ways in which we're seeing students get experiences. We also as, especially as we're rolling out this universal co-op requirement, we're going to have an option for students to do something called an experiential exploration project.

Bella Gullia: (08:56)

So that should still be something that is robust in terms of timeline. It shouldn't be like a one to two week project. We're looking at, you know, 10 weeks, at least the length of a semester, project that is hyper-specific to either the area that they're interested in working one day, their major area of study or something that a professor maybe that they're working closely with, has deemed an important, you know, research project in their field. So those, again, very flexible, can look many different ways, but that would be an uncommon way in which we would approve a student of a co-op experience.

Grant Freking: (09:34)

Sure, and your office is making sure that as best as you possibly can through your connections and also working with other entities within Lindner and the university, that there is many co-op opportunities available for students because we're bringing more and more, uh, students into co-op. Correct?

Bella Gullia: (09:48)

Yeah. And that's exciting. A very exciting time for us too. We're starting to expand our employer reach, not just regionally, but nationally. Our team is very committed to finding more and more quality opportunities for our students. And our employer relations team is actually going on a trip to Texas this year, where they'll be meeting with some, some major companies, which is really exciting.

Grant Freking: (10:10)

Always expanding those networks. And speaking of networks, when a student comes and meets with you and, and is maybe a little confused or is feeling anxious and asks, how do I expand my professional network?

Bella Gullia: (10:20)

Mm-Hmm.

Grant Freking: (10:20)

Without any co-op or job experience, how do you respond to that?

Bella Gullia: (10:24)

Yes. I think the first thing when it comes to like quote unquote networking, we need to roll it back. It's, it's just making a friend, making a new relationship at the end of the day. And, I tell this to all of my students, people want to help people. We just have to tell them how, and especially people wanna help college students. So when you think about building your network or building relationships, working with your career coach, going to different events like the career fair, tabling events where employers are here in the building in our atrium, tabling, this happens almost weekly. Going to info sessions, really being engaged in attending those things. Talking with the employer one-on-one afterwards, asking the career coach for a personal introduction and then saying, you know, this is what I'm studying, these are what my interests are, what advice do you have for me? Or even get more specific than that, and you know, do you have any opportunities to shadow you or is there anyone else in the company that you would recommend connecting me to or that I should reach out to to learn about their experience at this, at this organization? People I think get in, we get in our own heads of networking and what it can look like and

Grant Freking: (11:37)

A hundred percent, yeah.

Bella Gullia: (11:38)

Ultimately it is just making, making friendships and, and yeah. Really just being interested and interesting in what you're talking about.

Grant Freking: (11:47)

Right. And then it's just, it's like anything else. And like it's the smallest detail or gesture that can lead to something else and you just, you can't visualize that until you actually go and do it and try and meet that new person or meet that new company, et cetera.

Bella Gullia: (11:59)

Yeah. And one thing I would say, younger students, 'cause it can be challenging to find a co-op as a first year.

Grant Freking: (12:05)

For sure.

Bella Gullia: (12:06)

We should think big picture and long term here. So if there is an employer or an alumni or even here in the building, like a professor that you really admire, you're interested in, you want to work with or you wanna work for that organization, start planting those seeds now. Make connections. Introduce yourself, because when it does come time for you to apply or they're now accepting you at junior year, they'll remember you. And that's gonna be, you're gonna be way more likely to get the opportunity quicker or at least get in the process quicker if they know you. So it's okay if we're not landing something immediately. If you're planting those seeds, that is part of this experience.

Grant Freking: (12:45)

Right, it's about building your whole portfolio, so to speak.

Bella Gullia: (12:48)

Mm-Hmm.

Grant Freking: (12:48)

Let's end on this one, Bella. So students co-op to help them determine a career field. But co-ops are also useful in another way. They help students find out what they don't want to do.

Bella Gullia: (12:57)

Mm-Hmm.

Grant Freking: (12:57)

with their professional lives.

Bella Gullia: (12:58)

Mm-Hmm. Yes, a hundred percent. And there's so much value in learning what you don't wanna do. First of all, it will save you a lot of time in the long run, but also even while you're finding out maybe what you don't wanna do, you're still building a lot of professional skills, you're building a lot of experiences that inevitably will be transferable to wherever you go next. And you're gonna be able to speak to that. I think employers are just as interested in hearing what you've learned, even if it's not what you wanna do and how you wanna pivot into a new area. Then if you said, oh, I had a perfect experience. I learned everything and I did everything that I wanted to do, and it confirmed what, what I wanted, that's also valuable. But I think there is some magic in being able to speak to what you, what you don't wanna do, 'cause you've, you've figured that out. That's that's huge. Yeah.

Grant Freking: (13:46)

And it's, and it's a, it could be just a slice of an industry where you figure out, well I don't really like this particular part of the industry.

Bella Gullia: (13:51)

Oh yeah.

Grant Freking: (13:52)

Or the area of business that I wanna be in, but it's maybe another sector and I can maybe use take another class or try and pursue another co-op that sort of explores that area as well.

Bella Gullia: (14:01)

Yeah. And I mean the world is constantly expanding and growing, which means job opportunities are expanding and growing. So sometimes there is a situation where you find a sliver that you do really like and that company is looking to innovate and expand in that area. And you could be that person that they bring on to do that. And you know, maybe you didn't like all the other pieces, but that small sliver is what lands you a really cool opportunity down the line.

Grant Freking: (14:28)

Absolutely. Well, my thanks to Bella for stopping by to help demystify co-op at Lindner. If you're looking for more information on co-op, visit business.uc.edu. A friendly reminder, you can listen to Bearcats Mean Business on Spotify, YouTube, or Amazon Music. If you can spare a few minutes, please subscribe, rate and review us. On the next episode of Bearcats Mean Business, Lindner Dean Marianne Lewis will sit down with Phil D. Collins, chairman of the University of Cincinnati's Board of Trustees and a Lindner graduate. Go Bearcats.

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Bearcats Mean Business Episode 2

Melissa Baer, Lindner's director of undergraduate enrollment, and Riley Higgins, a second-year Lindner Business Honors student majoring in marketing and international business, break down the admissions and applications process for prospective students and their parents or guardians.

Melissa taps into her institutional knowledge of Lindner and UC to educate listneners, while Riley touches on her recent past to relay her experience of applying to college, what to look for in a college/university, and why Lindner's experiential learning focus resonated with her as a high school student.

Grant Freking: (00:00)

Welcome to another episode of Bearcats Mean Business, a new podcast from the University of Cincinnati's Carl H. Lindner College of Business. My name is Grant Freking, Manager of College Communications and Marketing at Lindner. Today's topic, admissions and applying to Lindner and UC. We're here to address the worries, concerns, and questions that prospective students and their parents or guardians, may have about the college admissions process. Luckily for our listeners, our two guests are eminently qualified to address these topics. One of my guests is Melissa Baer, Lindner's director of undergraduate enrollment. Melissa has 20 years of experience working in college admissions at both public and private universities, and is nearing her 10-year anniversary working at the University of Cincinnati. Welcome, Melissa.

Melissa Baer: (00:44)

Thanks, Grant. I'm excited to be here today.

Grant Freking: (00:46)

We are also joined by Riley Higgins, a second-year Lindner Business Honors student majoring in marketing and international business. Riley is a Cincinnati native, a PACE leader and a Lindner Ambassador who also participates in Lindner women in Business, UC, Pickleball Club, and iCATS. Welcome Riley.

Riley Higgins: (01:02)

Thanks for having me, Grant.

Grant Freking: (01:04)

Melissa, we will begin with you. Can you explain to our listeners the purpose and mission of your job and how you help prospective students navigate the application process?

Melissa Baer: (01:13)

Sure. When, when talking to families and students about admissions and the work that we do, I always like to start with the title of admissions counselor. I think one of the big misunderstandings from families is that my role, my team, our job, is akin to sales. It's not, it's very much more akin to counseling, supporting students, answering questions, helping students and families find the right fit for their student. Um, and fit is a very, very personal thing to each and every student and each and every family. Um, one of the ways that we try to express that authenticity in the Lindner College of Business is by associating our prospective students with our current students. And that means that we're providing those authentic experiences. Yes, I receive a paycheck from the Lindner College of Business. Riley, for example, does not. So when she talks to students and families, we really expect that it is that authentic exchange and students and parents can find those opportunities to engage and find fit. And that's really important to me and my team and the work that we do.

Grant Freking: (02:18)

What's sort of the immediate feedback you get from prospective students and their parents when that exchange with a current student happens?

Melissa Baer: (02:25)

Uh, it's a lot of enthusiasm. , first of all, our students are amazing. I hope that everyone learns that today about Riley and I think she's a perfect picture of a Lindner student. Um, so when parents and students talk to us after the fact, they are in awe of our students and in awe of that, the idea that that is who their student can become, right? So this idea of, okay, in in two years my student's going to have had a cooperative education experience. They're going to have gotten involved in all of these campus activities. There may be going to be a student who's standing up here giving this presentation in a couple of years. I will say that some families will say, whoa, whoa, whoa. My student is, um, not that. And we go, not yet. Right? It is okay to not be that yet.

Melissa Baer: (03:14)

One of the things that we have tried to do in recent years is to really actively bring younger, currently students into our activities. It's very overwhelming to see a fifth-year student who's had four co-op rotations.

Grant Freking: (03:26)

Sure.

Melissa Baer: (03:26)

Already has their full-time job placement, has graduate classes under their belt. That's very intense for students and families. But when they see a first or a second year student who is finding their way through that process, they can start to connect to them a little bit more. So I think it's really some parents and students automatically see themselves in that scenario. Um, and some of them need the support of No, no, no, you're gonna grow into that. That's just an explanation of the opportunities that you have here.

Grant Freking: (03:57)

Perfect. Riley, what made you want to serve as that, I guess, mentor for prospective students and, you know, prospective students who you've never met before?

Riley Higgins: (04:05)

Yeah. When I first came to campus, I was here for a science-related competition in high school. So I didn't even come near the College of Business. In fact, at the time I don't think our new building had been built yet.

Grant Freking: (04:16)

Hmm.

Riley Higgins: (04:16)

Um, so when I did come back actually interested in business, I went to a college closeup presentation and I had the experience of two fifth-year students who were presenting to me about their experiences and their co-ops and their study abroad, which to me, who loves learning Spanish and has a minor in Spanish, I was like, this is exactly what I wanna do. So I was one of the people in Melissa's case who, um, saw myself in their shoes eventually giving the presentation back. And just from, honestly, semester one being on campus, it's just, you wanna look back at the students who I was with in high school and bring them up and show them everything that Lindner has to offer. So, um, that's how I became involved in Lindner Ambassadors and, um, where I get to present back to students and their parents and families, show them around Lindner, tell them about my experience. And the best part is that the faculty who like help establish Lindner Ambassadors have given us no, like, Hey, don't say that, hey, don't censor that. They just, you know, give us free rein to share our experiences and share, um, everything that we've been able to accomplish in just a year and a half here.

Grant Freking: (05:23)

It's good that they encourage you to be real about the process because I think parents and and prospective students, they can probably see through that, that inauthentic way of presenting Lindner or any other college that may may be doing some sort of similar, similar thing to college close-up.

Riley Higgins: (05:35)

It's pretty immediate. Yeah. I mean, just from the other college tours that had gone on in high school versus the one I got when I specifically came to Lindner, I just immediately recognized the authenticity and passion that the students had.

Grant Freking: (05:47)

Building off that rally, you're only a few years removed from applying to Lindner and UC as well as other universities, I'm sure. What do you remember about applying to college and what was your experience applying to Lindner and UC?

Riley Higgins: (05:58)

Yeah, I definitely remember it like it was yesterday because that is a stressful process that I hope I don't have to go through again if I, you know, choose to go to graduate school. But I was a bit of a unique case. I had looked at all of my options and I was between studying journalism or maybe medical field, maybe business. I wasn't sure, um, you know, what the right path was for me. And uc was actually the only in-state school I applied to.

Grant Freking: (06:23)

Okay.

Riley Higgins: (06:23)

Which is rare for students in Cincinnati in this area. We typically apply to several in-state schools. Um, but when I had seen what the Lindner program had to offer, I knew that if I was going to stay in state, it was UC all the way. Um, just all the things that they had to offer were undeniably where I wanted to be.

Riley Higgins: (06:44)

So I had also applied to a few, like out-of-state college colleges, you know, my reach schools, all these things. Um, and I actually didn't end up even hearing back from those schools 'cause their, you know, application process is where you'd hear back in April. But I had heard back in January and February from UC and I committed like that week that I had heard back. 'cause I knew this is where I wanted to be, but I just remember being really confused 'cause there's so many options on the table and, you know, you have to write all these essays and you have to figure out why exactly you wanna apply to this college. So for UC's application process, um, specifically, I remember that there was like one essay that was really straightforward. It was, why do you want to study business at UC? And I was like, oh, this is perfect. I can tell you exactly why I wanna do that. So I just really made sure to think about why UC could provide me with the opportunities I needed to get what I wanted out of a college experience.

Grant Freking: (07:40)

Right. And Melissa, an essay question like that is, is broad intentionally correct? It's to, uh, pinpoint, uh, the personal experience of the applicant?

Melissa Baer: (07:50)

Right. So we're a little unique here at uc as a direct-admit institution, which when students are looking at colleges and universities, they'll see a difference between schools that are saying, do you want to enroll at the University of Cincinnati in general, or do you wanna enroll specifically in the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati? So that major-specific question is really trying to target, um, what a student's experiences and backgrounds have been in regards to their academic interests and really allow them to have a space. It's a 250-word personal statement. It's not intense. Um, but it really is an opportunity for students to share their background and their interests.

Grant Freking: (08:26)

And it also forces them to be concise, right? With a, with a perhaps a longer, you know, word count. There's a bit of a propensity perhaps for rambling or, or lack of focus, but you really get to know, and also it helps you churn through the thousands of applications, right?

Melissa Baer: (08:41)

Yeah, so we have both the common app essay, which is 600 words, which is the same essay that you would send to any common app school you would apply to. So in that essay, uh, you don't get to talk about UC in particular, and if you do talk about UC, um, they're gonna send that sentence about UC to all of the other schools that you apply to.

Grant Freking: (08:58)

Sure.

Melissa Baer: (08:58)

So that personal statement requires that tight timeline, but an opportunity also for a student to elaborate what they know about themselves and the university, um, in that place. That personal statement just comes to us at UC and does allow us to dive a little bit deeper into the application, who the student is and what they're looking for.

Grant Freking: (09:19)

Melissa, let's stay on the topic of prospective students. When you have a chance to talk with potential future students at Lindner as well as their parents or guardians, what are common questions that you hear from them?

Melissa Baer: (09:30)

The common questions really depend on two things. The first is where the student is in their search process and where we are in the application timeline. So if we sort of start at the beginning with the hope that we have a high school junior in the spring of their junior year that's coming to visit us, that student is hopefully talking about how do I become the most competitive candidate? What classes am I taking? A little plug here, we are always going to say that a student should remain on a calculus trajectory, uh, and happy to share more about that. Uh, but students are asking about those pieces of the equation earlier in their process. But as they move through, it starts to become things like, when will I find out about my decision? When will I find out about my financial aid? Um, how do I get a more personalized visit? What opportunities are there for scholarships? So it really is this kind of ebb and flow of the process. We are just a few days away from our 2024 decision release date. Um, so those decisions will be releasing on January 22nd for students to find out whether or not they have been admitted to the university. Um, and that really opens up the what next set of questions for prospective students. So we're excited to go through that transition here in the next couple of days.

Grant Freking: (10:45)

It's exciting, exciting time and a busy time, for you, Melissa. Riley, during your application process, and you touched on this a little bit already, but let's expand upon it. What were the attributes that you were looking for in a future college or university or a business school?

Riley Higgins: (10:57)

Yeah, definitely. I was looking for a place first and foremost that I could call home. I knew that I wanted to be comfortable, but also wanted to have a place that would challenge me to grow. And that was what I found here at Lindner. I just like observed the community when I was here just naturally on a building tour. And it was where the ambassadors who were taking us on the building tour are talking to the faculty in the hallway and people are saying, Hey. And I just realized that the culture here, the community was really strong. And it's something that we actually highlight in our college close-up presentations with the ambassadors is one of our points of distinction is the community that we have. So it really stood out to me. Um, and that's something that I was looking for. And then I also wanted a smaller college campus, you know, experience with Lindner, um, in the College of Business, but on the big university of the University of Cincinnati. So there's so many resources available because we're on such a big campus. Um, in my, in my opinion, it's a big campus, but clearly there's, there's much bigger. Um, but it's, it's, you know, it's navigable and there's things here that I'm able to keep myself entertained. Um, and I also get to come to the same building for my classes and really like hammer down and, um, get my work done.

Grant Freking: (12:16)

Sure. And during these, these visits, we, we hammer home our, our, our mission and our values to students. What were some of those things maybe specifically related to experiential learning and co-op, things like that, that sort of stuck out to you and, and resonated with you, uh, during the application process and maybe helped drive you towards a decision?

Riley Higgins: (12:33)

Yeah, it's, it's something so unique is the experiential learning outlook on education. Um, coming from high school when you're pretty much just reading textbooks and getting PowerPoints, uh, you really have to have a, a frame shift in your mindset of what it means to learn and what that looks like for a business student. And experiential learning goes so well with our curriculum because it's in our classrooms. And then after our classroom educational period, we go to our clubs where we're doing consulting work and we're doing, we're implementing the things that we're learning almost immediately. And so you're not only growing in the classroom, but in your extracurricular work with, um, clubs that you're a part of, and then you get to go to this co-op experience. Um, which for me was after my second semester. So it was the summer after my first year of college, I got to work for a bank doing marketing strategy, which is exactly what I wanted to get experience in.

Riley Higgins: (13:27)

And we always call it test driving your major, right. And . Yeah. So, and it's the perfect way to summarize exactly what you're doing. It's not locking you down into a full-time position where there's a little bit more responsibility and expectation, but, um, you're with a company who often is local and helping you figure out what you wanna do with your career. What you don't like is just as important as what you do like. So that was really attractive to me as far as figuring out, you know, the value of my education when I graduate in four years. I wanna be able to say that it was worth every penny. Um, so I wanted to really figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

Grant Freking: (14:05)

No pressure, right?

Riley Higgins: (14:06)

No pressure, but a good support system will make it happen.

Grant Freking: (14:10)

Right? And it's stories like this, Melissa, to help, you know, this is not what we're, you know, you're, you're not a salesperson as you said earlier, but Riley's an exemplar of what we can hold up and say, like, this is what's possible. Right? But you can also go at your own pace. And I think that's important to convey to parents and students who are likely and probably more than likely overwhelmed at the process. As, you know, they're, they're trying to usher in a 17, 18-year-old young adult into a brand new world,

Melissa Baer: (14:36)

Right. So, Riley's an example of a student who like has her foot on the gas pedal and she's like, ready to go and she's goal-driven, and she's like, I'm gonna milk this for everything that I can. Right? That's not every single student that comes into the College of Business.

Grant Freking: (14:49)

Of course.

Melissa Baer: (14:50)

And that's, that's perfectly fine. So I think it's important always from our lens to support stories like Riley's by saying it's the faculty and staff. It's your academic advisor, it's your career advisor. Um, it's the requirements of the college that are going to support a student who's less likely to put their foot on the gas pedal and finding out what's next. So there are those little points in the process, just like, um, in high school or just like in a degree pathway in college where it's sort of like, okay, it's time, little birdie.

Melissa Baer: (15:20)

It's time to go find a co-op and we're gonna support you in doing that, and it's gonna feel uncomfortable. And that's okay, right? This is another opportunity in life for students to have those, uh, I don't wanna say failures, but there is a sense of an opportunity to fail with a safety net, right? Going out to the career fair, um, in the fall of your, your freshman year and realizing that nobody wants to hire you because you're basically still a high school student, right? But you still get that opportunity under your belt of handing out your resume and shaking people's hands. Um, and for some students that comes easy. I'm guessing for Riley it did. Um, and for some students it's really, really painful, but it's a part of that learning process. And that is a-okay.

Riley Higgins: (16:01)

I'll tell you. I mean, it is, you, you really hit the ground running. I will say Lindner's First-Year Experience is top tier because of that, they take you, you know, and you might feel like uncomfortable your first couple of days, but this, the community that surrounds you, the resources that are available to you, you're able to achieve so much more within one month of being here than you ever thought possible. So I mentor 11 first-year students as a PACE leader. And so I got to see it this year now on the other side of, you know, dragging them through their first couple of weeks and being like, okay, time to, you know, learn how to do an interview. welcome to college, essentially. And just seeing their growth throughout the first semester and then seeing them now going into their second semester, they're almost a different person. They have grown so much. And I think that's an amazing thing to be able to accomplish in one semester.

Grant Freking: (16:51)

Right. And I've sat in on a lot of the, those sessions that, that you, you have led and they've been led by company representatives who sit on those FYE sessions even coming in and, you know, three or four months down the road. The growth, the less anxiousness, less nervousness. I mean, of course everyone's still nervous. I get up nervous talking in front of people still.

Riley Higgins: (17:09)

100%.

Grant Freking: (17:10)

But it's, it's the comfort level, not only with their classmates in collaboration, but also the subject matter that once they've acquitted themselves, they're like, oh, this isn't too daunting. I can go ahead and do this among my, my path to being, as we say, a business problem solver, right?

Riley Higgins: (17:22)

Yeah.

Grant Freking: (17:22)

Melissa, let's walk listeners through a typical admission cycle for a prospective student. You just mentioned that you are hitting one of your benchmark dates in your office. From the time a student receives marketing collateral to the time they apply. What's that sort of timeframe look like?

Melissa Baer: (17:37)

Yeah, and I, I wanna address this first by saying one of the things that we're seeing from students is a concern about, um, sharing their information or opting into marketing campaigns.

Grant Freking: (17:47)

Hmm.

Melissa Baer: (17:47)

And I absolutely understand that. I know what all four of my email inboxes look like. You know, I have one that was like supposed to be for coupons and stuff and one that was personal. And then I have my work and then I have another one that I started for, for funsies. Um, but I encourage students to embrace that opportunity, start an email address that's just for your college search process. Maybe share access with that to your parents. Um, because sharing your information means we can talk to you about who we are. We can tell you what the opportunities are to, to get to know us. Um, we're seeing a rise in students entering our funnel at the time of application, which means we've had no contact with them, um, until they apply.

Melissa Baer: (18:28)

And I think students who choose that route are, um, less informed when they come to us. So, so really the hope, and to answer your question, is a student could start getting marketing collateral from us in the spring of their junior year of high school. Really kind of that introduction to who we are, um, and what their timeline and process could look like. That's ideal. That is also the point in which most high school students are going to be pursuing resume workshops, essay workshops, getting to know their common application and really building out their application materials so that when the common app does open on August 1st of a student's senior year of high school, right? Generally right before you start your senior year, you're ready to apply. But that means to be the most competitive candidate that you can, you need a shortlist. I've seen that shortlist run anywhere from one school to 20 schools. Neither of those ends are the right answer. Um, but really making sure that students have the information and knowledge to have a list that works well for them so that they can apply before the deadlines of their respective schools. Which for Lindner and the University of Cincinnati is December 1 of your senior year.

Grant Freking: (19:40)

The important, that's an important date for all of us to remember.

Melissa Baer: (19:42)

Very important.

Grant Freking: (19:43)

Riley based on your experiences with what Melissa just talked about, what are some recommendations you would offer a prospective student in navigating the college application process?

Riley Higgins: (19:51)

Yeah, I actually, um, over the holidays was just talking with my cousins about this, 'cause they're juniors in high school. They're going through the process of trying to figure out, first of all what they wanna do and second of all, where they wanna do it. Um, so I was just telling them to find a place that will encourage them to grow and a place that caress about them and can give them the resources that they need to achieve their goals. Um, 'cause I think at the bottom line, that's what's most important. Um, I know when I was looking at colleges, I was thinking about things like, do I like the campus? You know, do I like the dorms? Do I like the food? You know, some of the details when you're comparing, it's just like apples to apples. . I'm like, you know, campuses will all have food and campuses will all have dorms for you to live in and something like that.

Riley Higgins: (20:37)

But, um, I just, you know, you have to look at the resources and the quality of students that were coming out of that college and, um, for what you're specifically trying to study. If you're not sure if you wanna go into business or something else, then you know, find a college that's gonna be able to support you no matter what you choose, and be a place where you can grow, um, and feel comfortable doing that. So that's the biggest advice that I can give is when you're searching for colleges, try not to get lost in the glitz and glamour of everything and instead like really look at the details of what you're getting out of the education that you're buying, um, . So keep, you know, it is important to look at that as well as the financial aspect of, um, what makes most sense in four years time when you go to get a career, do you wanna look back and say, that was totally worth it? Um, that's also really important.

Grant Freking: (21:26)

Right. Hopeful. I'm sure our listeners will find that extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing that. Melissa. Let's tie a bow on this episode with dispelling some of the biggest myths around the college admissions process and then a handful of must-know dates for applicants that relate to Lindner and UC.

Melissa Baer: (21:39)

Yeah, let's start with, with some myths. I will hang my hat on three myths that I think really, um, confuse parents and students about this process. The first one is that admissions is exceptionally, overly competitive. And, um, my student will never get in. Your student, whomever they are, will have plenty of options for higher education, um, and plenty of options to, to move towards their goals. I'll use Lindner as an example. We admit about 72% of our incoming first year students directly to their major, but we enroll almost another, um, equal amount of students in their second year as transition students. So they come to the University of Cincinnati, either not having been admitted directly to business or having started someplace else. Um, they just really kind of have to stay on their path here and take their math classes and then they can come on over to the College of Business.

Melissa Baer: (22:35)

It's really about us and other institutions wanting to be sure that your students are gonna be successful. The second myth that I think is incredibly important for everyone to understand is the price versus cost myth. Um, the sticker price on higher education is very high and it can be daunting for a lot of families, especially first-generation families. I strongly encourage students not to discount an institution on price right out the gate. Um, I was a first-gen college student with what's a zero EFC student, so I came from a low socioeconomic background. Um, my most reasonable institution was a private institution that actually had the highest sticker price of any of the institutions that I applied to. This is not to say that we're negotiating price or like this is a car, a car lot. It's really that the way institutions use their financial aid dollars, either merit-based scholarships or need-based scholarships, is very different. And you kind of have to put your name in the hat and all these different institutions to know what you're going to get. And then the third one isn't really so much a myth that I'll say it's just a mixture of making sure that students are exploring the differences between public and private institutions. There are merits to both sides of the equation. There are a lot of differences and similarities, but I think that it's important for students and families not to write one or the other off in the very beginning of their process.

Grant Freking: (23:53)

Melissa, let's also give our listeners a handful of dates that they should be aware of if they're, if a, they're a student applying for college or if they're a parent, perhaps listening that wants to have their student apply for college.

Melissa Baer: (24:04)

Yeah. The most critical dates in this process are going to be the August 1st of your senior year. The common application opens for the University of Cincinnati and the Lindner College of Business. December 1st is the early action deadline, so greatest consideration for scholarships and admission. Um, late January is our first decision release date, so January 22nd this year. Mid-February, usually around Valentine's Day, we'll release merit-based scholarships. Um, and then May 1st is what's called the national candidate's reply date. It is generally late April to early May when you have to confirm your decision or commit to a college or university.

Grant Freking: (24:41)

Students and parents, be sure to mark down those important dates. My thanks to Melissa and Riley for joining me today. A friendly reminder that Bearcats Mean Business is available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube. On the next episode of Bearcats Mean Business, I'll be speaking to a member of Lindner Career Services to demystify co-op at Lindner. Go Bearcats.

Episode 1_Dean Lewis

On the first episode of Bearcats Mean Business, Lindner dean Marianne Lewis, PhD, details Lindner’s distinctive attributes: Among the topics discussed:

  • The uniqueness of co-op at Lindner + why it serves as a career launchpad
  • Our mission of empowering business problem solving
  • Why students from a range of backgrounds and stages in their lives turn to Lindner

 

Grant Freking: (00:01)

 

Welcome to the first episode of Bearcats Mean Business, a new podcast from the University of Cincinnati's, Carl H. Lindner College of Business. In the episodes to come, you will hear from Lindner students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, and more about a range of topics, including but not limited to, co-op, advice for prospective students and their parents, impactful faculty research and what a typical day looks like for a Lindner student. We want you to have an intimate understanding of the many exciting pathways that are possible at Lindner. My name is Grant Freking, Manager of College Communications and Marketing at Lindner, and I'm delighted to be your host. My first guest was a no-brainer. Now in her fifth academic year as Lindner's dean, it's Marianne Lewis. Welcome, Marianne. 

Marianne Lewis: (00:45)

Oh, thank you, grant. It's such a pleasure to be here, and as soon as you say in my fifth year, I'm just amazed how time flies when you're having fun. 

Grant Freking: (00:52)

Isn't that true? This is exciting, isn't it? I mean, I'm also glad selfishly that you're here with me for this first episode, Marianne. 'cause you are not only a veteran of public speaking, but of podcasting. 

Marianne Lewis: (01:03)

Well, I, I appreciate being first too. I mean, it's just a lot of fun. I, I like guinea pigging and, uh, experimenting. But I also love where this podcast studio is right in the heart of the business school. So it's great. 

Grant Freking: (01:13)

Well, with this being the inaugural episode, let's introduce people to Lindner, shall we? The Carl H. Lindner College of Business is a leading business school, consistently ranked in the top five nationally for co-op, which is short for cooperative education. For those that may be unfamiliar, co-op entails multiple paid professional work experiences undertaken by students. Through co-op students explore career options and build their skills, resumes and networks. Marianne, why is co-op an essential part of what we do here at Lindner? And what makes co-op at Lindner so unique? 

Marianne Lewis: (01:45)

I think co-op is just so critical, Grant. I mean, because really the more you understand the power of learning, the more I think you understand the power of experience, right? That really building this feedback loop where students learn something in the classroom, go out, try it, see what works for them specifically, and in various opportunities and instances, and then they come back and reflect and it just goes, that's the cycle. It keeps moving. I think the other piece, I, I mean I talk to so many alumni and to a one, they will say the most important thing they did while they were here was co-op. It doesn't mean that the classes don't matter. Right. It's that it was out in the quote-unquote real world. They realized some of the most important things. For example, what they didn't wanna do. 

Grant Freking: (02:34)

That was gonna be one of my points. 

Marianne Lewis: (02:35)

It has to be, you know, what do you take off that list, that infinite list of what do you wanna do when you grow up? Which we ask ourselves our entire lives. You just start to figure out what really excites you, what you're good at, what you don't wanna be good at. And that's perfectly fine, but that experience can become so personal and it really powers learning. 

Grant Freking: (02:56)

And I didn't personally co-op when I was in college, but having talked to current students and now former students, it's what you mentioned earlier, it's determining what they necessarily didn't want to do. Mm-Hmm. . And how that really helped them narrow down their options for their career fields, even if it's just slicing off one or two different areas of business and really helps them focus and kind of concentrates their, their interests that they build throughout being here at Lindner into funneling with what's best for them in their career. 

Marianne Lewis: (03:23)

Yeah, absolutely. Well, uh, you know, and I'd share a another aspect too. I mean, the more students have work experience or business experience, what does it change what you can do in a classroom? So, lemme give you the example. I mean, I'm a management professor. I teach leadership in particularly with a younger and a very inexperienced class. People can read and you can talk about some of these things and they'll say things like, isn't that obvious? And that is my sign that you haven't been out there because unfortunately, great leadership is rare and it's why you need to have some experiences. I mean, the number one reason people leave jobs is their boss. So how do you make more of that? And so, when students have actually had those experiences, suddenly, you know, you're talking and you're teaching in an undergraduate, uh, classroom where it feels like an MBA classroom because they have the experience and you say, okay, let's really talk about, you know, a boss from hell. Let's get serious about what's working and what's not. Mm-Hmm. . And when people can say, well, let me tell you what happened in my last co-op, right? Well, in my internship last summer, I had, you know, and, and now you get it on the table. And that variety matters. And it's really makes it much more powerful, especially in, in my view, some challenging topics like management and leadership. You gotta know the good, the bad, and the ugly. And that takes experience. 

Grant Freking: (04:44)

Well, we at Lindner certainly have experience crafting tomorrow's leaders, in my opinion. And part of our mission, and perhaps the mission, is empowering business problem solvers from the moment they step on campus. When a student thinking about studying business at Lindner hears or reads business problem solving Mm-Hmm. , what should they think about? Mm-Hmm.

Marianne Lewis: (05:05)

Uh, you know, I, I think come becoming focused on our mission of empowering business problem solvers was just like this light bulb for me. And it was a, a process we started the first semester I was here, really kinda getting our arms around what's our higher purpose? Because if you think about business problem solvers, actually, and I'd add the word empower. The first thing goes, what kind of problems do you wanna solve? That's a really personal question. What wakes you up in the morning, gets you fired up? What keeps you awake at night? And what could you, kind of skills problem solving skills could you be good at using? Right? I'm not a mathematical person, I know that about me. I am much more of a communicator, an innovator, but boy, I've met remarkable people who are incredibly analytical, very rigorous in their thinking. Alright, I immediately can start hearing different majors, different minors, the different kind of career paths. That's really powerful. And that's the empowering piece is we have lots of options, right? Right? We do lots of majors, minors, that's tools, experiences, but it's about figuring out what kind of problems do you wanna work on and what kind of tools do you wanna get really good at using and putting those together. And I love that mix. 

Grant Freking: (06:18)

And from our point of view from our faculty, it's about presenting those problems too. Because the students, they're, they're so young, they're so eager to learn, but they may not have, they have their own personal problems, but they may not be thinking about business problems. Yeah, exactly. Coming into the classroom, which is a fascinating thing to wind up, watch them grow up. And we have so many great students. And so, um, I know as you mentioned, as an instructor, that must be a thrilling feeling for you. 

Marianne Lewis: (06:40)

You know, it is Grant. And, but the other piece I would think was as soon as you were saying that about problems, and, and especially when you're coming in, say you're coming in out of high school, right? You might not know what a business problem is versus a personal problem. I think this has been, you know, I've been studying my work for about 25 years. I study tensions and competing demands, and I was always studying very business strategy problems. And the more I got into them, the more I realized the business problems I was working on are human problems. They're life problems. Right? So I'll give you an example. Uh, one of the really challenging things that very senior leaders have to focus on is this tension between short-term long-term, right? What do I do today versus what do I really dream about for tomorrow? 

Grant Freking: (07:23)

Constant balance. 

Marianne Lewis: (07:24)

The balance. But that's a human problem. I mean, you need that. What what am I gonna spend my time doing right today? What am I gonna work on in terms of putting my head down and getting things done to do my classes today versus dreaming and preparing for tomorrow? We will deal with short-term, long-term tensions our entire lives. So I think there are a host of business problems that you don't have to be in a big corporation. You could be in a nonprofit, you could be sitting at home and you would face the same kind of problems. So empowering business problem solvers is really a way to empower people in all walks of their life and in, in our society at large. 

Grant Freking: (08:04)

Well, speaking of future problem solvers, Marianne, you are constantly in front of current students at a wide variety of Lindner engagements. What are some of the common explanations students provide to you as to why they selected Lindner? 

Marianne Lewis: (08:18)

It, it varies. Certainly Grant, I mean, I'm a big believer that choosing your university is a vital and very personal decision, because it's about fit. And I think a big piece of it comes back to our prior discussion around co-op right? They see opportunity. They come here because they say, I want to try it out. I wanna figure out what I wanna do. I think though, it goes beyond that. I mean, when we talk about co-op and, and you know, work study opportunities, we're also talking about just broader experiential learning. You don't come to Lindner if you wanna be in an ivory tower 'cause that's not who we are, right? We're a place where we want roll up your sleeves and try things out. It's why we send so many students overseas for study abroad. We now do domestic travel, which we call study away. 

Marianne Lewis: (09:06)

Um, we do projects in the classrooms. All of these things are about practice, right? And feed that feedback and learning loop of say, have an experience, see what worked, what didn't reflect on it, try it again. Right? And I think a lot of students come to us because they say, I, I don't know what I don't know. And the best way to learn is through experience. I also certainly think they come to us, um, because of the variety of disciplines, majors, minors, areas of interest. I mean, we're incredibly good at, for example, analytics. We're one of the very best in the country. Same with marketing. We've got the fourth largest marketing program in the country. But you know, we're sitting in Procter and Gamble's backyard. That makes great sense. Mm-Hmm, . And I could give you kind of a whole laundry list of options for things you could study in Lindner and across this campus. But that, the beauty is, it's up to the students to start figuring that out. And unlike most business schools, we do two things in addition to co-op that are really unique. One, Grant, is our students start in business day one. And that matters. 

Grant Freking: (10:14)

First Year Experience.

Marianne Lewis: (10:15)

First Year Experience, just hit the ground running, start to build those skills, start to explore it. It doesn't mean for those listening, we don't care about the liberal arts. We absolutely do. I mean, we think you need all sorts of different kinds of insights to build a well-rounded you for the future, but the sooner you start in the business, the more opportunities you have. So you start day one. I think the other piece is, unlike most places, nearly all of our students are double majored. I mean, our students who really get started early, they have two majors, a minor, they've co-op'd and studied abroad. The earlier you start figuring out, Ooh, what do I wanna do? The more you can take advantage of what we have. And I love that it's a launching pad. 

Grant Freking: (10:58)

Perfect. That dovetails perfectly into my next point and question for you: pathways. Flexible pathways to be specific. The cover story of the 2023 issue of Portfolio, Lindner's annual magazine, explored the idea of all roads leading to Lindner. Writing that story, I was particularly intrigued by the notion of how the road less traveled, one marked by twists and turns is absolutely the norm for college students. As you and I both know, Marianne, students from a range of backgrounds, locations, and stages in their lives turn to Lindner. What does that mean for us to be able to accommodate the, that wide mix of students and who come to us from all these different directions? 

Marianne Lewis: (11:36)

I think it's a, it's a few things. And, and maybe before I share kind of those paths, I think one of the aha's, and for those of you who don't know my background, I was here for 18 years. I led our undergraduate program. I then did a Fulbright in London and then became a dean in London for four years. And while I was there, I was served on a number of groups that I've, I basically got had the privilege of studying and visiting business schools around the world, and particularly outside of the U.S. But even sometimes in the U.S. I found how very much most, uh, programs you get locked in early. Mm. And it was one of the many things that drew me back to UC and to Lindner, because I do not think that is in a student's best interest. When I left for London, I remember a stat, and I don't know what it is today, that the average undergraduate student changes majors five times. Wow. Yeah. And then it's like, okay, well let's see if we can't get through four of those your first year. Right? But that means that takes some real work. And if we lock you in and you have to start over, what, what a horrible waste of time, money. 

Grant Freking: (12:41)

Setting up both parties to fail. 

Marianne Lewis: (12:42)

Everything. Right? So I'll, I'll go back to kind of how, how do the, how do the pathways work because I, I love the flexibility of our pathways. It's something we continue to innovate and build on here at Lindner. And it fits into the experiential piece as well. So, you know, you start out that first year experience, you're working on project strategy, which means everyone is in a small team, they're working with a company, they're doing a SWOT analysis, which is a strategy kind of approach. And say you start to think, oh, I really like the marketing side. I like these questions. I'm asking about the customers and the markets. And okay, here I am at UC, P&G''s backyard, giant fabulous marketing program. I'm gonna start in marketing. That's great. You do that first co-op and you come back and say, oh, I like marketing. 

Marianne Lewis: (13:34)

But I don't know that I liked exactly what I was doing. I like, let's, let's, I'm playing with marketing. I mean, marketing is a huge tent. So now maybe I'm figuring out, you know what I'm the analytical, rigorous type. I'm gonna add say a double major in business analytics or economics. And I am really going, gonna go into market research and I'm gonna get into that nitty gritty of the power of big data. Or you come back and you realize, I love the creativity. Well now maybe I'm gonna go to CCM and digital media. Maybe I'm gonna go thinking about DAAP and some of the design. 

Grant Freking: (14:07)

Or dabble in entrepreneurship. 

Marianne Lewis: (14:08)

Dabble in entrepreneurship and, exactly right. You what what I'm doing? Or oh, the mind of the consumer. Now maybe I'm gonna go into anthropology or psychology. I mean that's where the world is your oyster truly, it opens up, but you don't even know where you might explore until you start taking steps forward. And then they start to veer. And now that path less taken is your path because every step is a little bit different because you're trying things out. And you might take a step backwards 'cause something didn't work. Totally fine. This is where you do it, this is where you experiment. Mm-Hmm. . And I love that. 

Grant Freking: (14:44)

And I think prospective students and current students can take comfort in the fact that there is maybe someone who doesn't have the identical journey to them, but someone whose journey is very similar. And I'm talking about transfer students, transition students, international students, students who might be parents, students in the military, any number of areas that they come from, there is a, a group for them, whether it's at Lindner mm-Hmm or someone, or, uh, a UC group that, that can support them. And we're also here to support them as well. So I think it's just having spent the last two and a half years storytelling on behalf of the Lindner College of Business and meeting all these different students as well as staff and faculty, it's just a constant, um, it feeds the engine of storytelling, talking to these different students and it's, it's such a great thing. 

Grant Freking: (15:28)

Speaking of Portfolio, which we touched on just a second ago, Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence Nick Castro,wrote in his annual state of inclusive excellence column that the recent academic year was one of quote explosive engagement by Lindner staff, students, and faculty. Now, there are so many ways in which Lindner supports and drives inclusive excellence, whether it's through student programs like business fellows, single-day events like Lindner women in businesses' empowerment day, to high school programs, notably Withrow Pathway to Lindner or the recently announced RDI Entrepreneurship Program at Saint Ursula Academy. How would you characterize Lindner's philosophy on inclusive excellence and making sure all of our students, staff, and faculty feel welcome here? 

Marianne Lewis: (16:10)

I love what we do in inclusive excellence. I so value Assistant Dean Nick Castro and the whole team and everybody involved. I mean, I think there are a couple of pieces to inclusive excellence, right? I'm gonna talk about kind of maybe the why first and then the how. I think in terms of the why, it's, there's a reason why I've always just deeply valued the label that we've used of inclusive excellence, um, because I do study tensions and, and even paradoxes. And I believe both of those terms are absolutely critical. Let's start with the excellence. Mm-Hmm. . The higher the bar we hold, the higher, the better students will do. I've seen it all my life. I believe in it fervently from tough love to great challenges, excellence matters. We will never lower that bar because it is absolutely what is best for students. 

Marianne Lewis: (16:57)

Then you add the inclusive, you've gotta have a place that you feel safe. You feel like you belong, you feel like you've got the support, because if the bar is that high, you will fail at times. And that's actually kind of part of the process. It's important. It's okay. We wanna build your confidence, your resilience, your skills through this process. So inclusion means you, you know, your people. You've got places and your team around you, from your advisor and your career coach to different student organizations that you just mentioned, mentioned some of, um, so that you have people who are going along the journey with you, but are also supporting you. And that to me is both the why is we need to be inclusive, to have the power of belonging in support. We need the bar high. That is the excellence and the how is through lots of efforts to build smaller places in a great big university where you're, you're known by name, you know, what matters, you know, you're cared about. And I think those two pieces just work really well together. 

Grant Freking: (18:06)

I think that's well said. And something I think about when, when it comes to not, not only, uh, inclusive excellence, but also just in general is listening to our students and hearing about their experiences. Because as we touched on earlier, the different pathways. Everyone comes in here with a different background, a different personal history. And I like to think we do a pretty good job of listening to our students, but there's always room for improvement. And as you, as you mentioned, we strive to keep that, that high bar and, um, work to make sure that all of our students feel welcome. Yeah. 

Marianne Lewis: (18:37)

Well, you know, and as you say that, obviously people like us, our faculty staff, I mean, we're here every day because we're committed to our students and we know that our students will listen as much or probably more to other students than anybody else. So the more we have student ambassadors, student leaders, other people in all of the organizations around inclusive excellence that are there for each other, I think that just takes everybody further. 

Grant Freking: (19:05)

Right. And those students are, happen to be instructed by some tremendous faculty. Lindner faculty are continuously producing research that impacts not only the business world, but our daily lives. They communicate the applications of their work, not only to our students — who often work alongside our faculty — but to industry leaders, academic publications, to media. Can you explain to our audience just how vital it is for Lindner to have engaged faculty experts? 

Marianne Lewis: (19:30)

Oh, it, it is so critical. I mean, and I understand what some people will say. I, does it matter that you're a Research 1, Carnegie Research 1 university? I don't even know what that means. Oh, it means a lot. I mean, the, the value of being a research institution means that your faculty are creating knowledge, not just disseminating it. So it means that we're not just teaching out of a textbook, we're writing the textbook. We're studying what's going on in organizations and in the world and pushing that envelope of what's new. Um, because the world is always changing. I mean, it's, the one constant, is change. And so having people that are the faculty as researchers means that they are always learning so that they can help their students learn. And that loop is really critical. I mean, I've said it before, but it matters to me, whether I'm dean or not, that I'm continuing to research and to teach because I see them working hand in glove. 

Marianne Lewis: (20:30)

The more, when I'm doing my research and I'm studying organizations and I'm learning and working with executives, I bring that right back into the classroom. And I can assure you, when I'm in the classroom, I'm learning what's working and what's not working from the students, and it's changing my research questions. And then it kind of goes back into my research. Um, and as a leader, and this is probably also because I study leadership, I get to practice it, which is phenomenal. And so then I, all these pieces, you know, really do work like a puzzle, but also maybe better like an engine fueling each other. And I love that the, the faculty here. Those that are doing the more traditional academic research are pushing the envelope. But we also have phenomenal educators who I consider professors of practice Mm-Hmm. , who have great industry experience that they bring into the classroom, and then they continue to build by working with executives externally. 

Grant Freking: (21:20)

And they bring that experience from the real world into the classroom by then not only teaching from the textbook or from the, the source text of what the class is about, but also by these projects. That's right. The experiential learning that occurs both, you know, I've walked around Lindner Hall and seen various experiments. Even in the business college, you can, you know, have those, those science-type experiments that, that happen, uh, throughout, throughout the way. Um, and it's, it's so cool to see. 

Marianne Lewis: (21:48)

Well, you're, you're absolutely right. And the other thing I, I always love and the Lindner Hall, the new Lindner Hall that we opened in 2019 is such a game changer. But we have visitors in this building every single day. We do. And it's phenomenal, right? And they're in the classroom, they're sharing what I consider living case studies, right? I kind of grew up, my father was at Harvard and they used case studies and I think I'll take our case studies over theirs any day because you've got someone actually giving you the messy, true story. It's not just a simplified version that's been written down. And I think that's great. 

Grant Freking: (22:20)

Marianne, before we wrap up, are there any other distinctions about Lindner that our listeners should be aware of? 

Marianne Lewis: (22:26)

You know, Grant, one of the things that I've really come to appreciate is Cincinnati. I love being an urban institution. We have a phenomenal business community. They are so engaged. It's what helps us always have visitors in this building. Um, but it, you know, it's also just helped me understand — you wouldn't study oceanography in a cornfield. And I sure think you don't study business there either because it lets you do so much more. 

Grant Freking: (22:52)

Well said. Well, that's all the time that we have. Thank you to dean Marianne Lewis for being our guest today. Remember, you can listen to Bearcats Mean Business on Spotify, YouTube, or Amazon Music. Stay tuned for our next episode, where I'll speak to a member of Lindner's undergraduate admissions office, and a current student, about all things admissions and applying to Lindner. So long for now.

Introducing Bearcats Mean Business and previewing forthcoming episodes.

Grant Freking: How do I gain admission to a top business school? What’s the deal with co-op? And what’s it like to be a Bearcat?

The University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business proudly presents Bearcats Mean Business, a new podcast where we’ll show you what it takes to gain admission to — and continuously achieve at — a leading co-op business school.

In the episodes to come, you will hear from Lindner students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters and more about a range of topics, including — but not limited to — co-op, advice for prospective students and their parents, faculty research, and what a typical day looks like for a Lindner student.

We want you to gain a more intimate understanding of the many pathways that are possible at Lindner.

If you think you have what it takes to be a business problem solver, then Bearcats Mean Business is for you.

You can listen to Bearcats Mean Business on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts.