The Undergraduate Business Symposium is one of the oldest and largest student-run career development events in the nation. Symposium has evolved into a program of events across the month of September culminating in the main event on Friday, September 22, 2017.
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Students reflect on the signature undergraduate business event.
When sophomore Michael Bojanski registered for Symposium 2012, he thought that attending Symposium couldn’t hurt because it was a chance to practice networking and learn a thing or two. Yes, it was Friday and yes he could have played Ultimate on Hooker Fields instead, but he knew one day wouldn’t kill him so he registered at the 11th hour (you be sure to early-bird register for a discount, however).
At Symposium, Michael met several representatives from Target with whom he hit it off. Like most people, the executives took an interest in someone who took an interest in them (it was their Friday, too after all). A week later Michael followed up, three weeks later he met with a store manager for an informational interview about Target, and just a month and a half after Symposium, the manager asked Michael to apply for an internship.
That summer, Michael worked as a full-time paid intern in the Southpoint SuperTarget’s Executive Management program. While Michael did the work, he believes the casual atmosphere and abundance of potential professional connections at Symposium played a big part in his ultimate success.
Michael’s interest in Operations also stems from his Symposium experience. “It blew me away how much it [Operations] fit with me. I hadn’t heard about Operations before and it was very helpful to learn the basic details.” Michael is now President of the Operations Club and has accepted a full time position with Amazon after an Operations internship there last summer.
“As a senior, I had attended several Symposiums throughout my time at UNC Kenan-Flagler. However, I had an especially successful experience at my last Symposium in 2013. I was invited to Thursday evening’s Pre-Symposium networking event at the Blue Zone, at which I spoke with several company representatives in an intimate, small group setting. I was fortunate enough to attend a breakout session with PNC and meet not only the keynote speaker for the following day, Reggie Imamura (Executive Vice President at PNC and UNC Kenan-Flagler alumnus), but also a recent graduate from UNC Kenan-Flagler on his team. I also met several other PNC employees and asked them about their line of work and why they enjoyed their positions within the bank.
At the Symposium Main Event, I was able to interact with numerous employers, including companies that I had previously interned with, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. I also continued my conversations with the PNC representatives I had met the night before. I was able to get to know them on a more personal level and ask them specific questions about their programs within the bank. To top the day off, I got to enjoy Mr. Imamura’s incredible keynote presentation delivered to all the students and employers during lunch.
Fast forward a few months later, and I was interviewing with Mr. Imamura and his colleagues in Chapel Hill for PNC’s Corporate & Institutional Banking Program. Having made my connections with PNC from Symposium, I had an especially enjoyable and productive recruitment experience with the company. In fact, I have accepted a full-time position with Mr. Imamura’s Asset-Back Finance team in New York City. I am thrilled! I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that UNC Kenan-Flagler has given me to pursue my career dreams by making lasting connections with students and employers.”
“I attended the 2013 Undergraduate Business Symposium as a junior and had no idea what to expect. The variety of personalized networking and breakout sessions gave me the opportunity to speak individually with company representatives. During the finance industry session, I spoke with a representative from Bank of America’s recruiting team about the company’s summer internship opportunities. We were able to continue our conversation on a more personal level during lunch, and I gave her my resume and contact information during the concourse networking at the end of the day.
In the next month, I discovered that she referred me for the Bank of America’s Finance Management Associate Intern Program and I later interviewed for the program. I was offered the internship for the summer of 2014 and attribute this opportunity to my Symposium experience.”
“I registered for Symposium 2014 due to my positive experience in 2013 and my desire for a more intimate networking opportunity than a general career fair. At the time I registered, I knew what I wanted for a summer internship, but knew I needed to meet professionals and learn more.
Overall, I had a positive experience with Symposium 2014. I enjoyed the unique diversity programming, was able to meet many firm representatives, and learned a great deal. The most valuable part of Symposium for me was serving as a Symposium Ambassador for Huron Consulting Group: it gave me a great deal of time with a company that I was applying to (and very interested in interning at) and a chance to prove how I could behave on the job when unexpected circumstances arose. I also was able to ask the firm representatives questions on their work, the application in general, and was able to form a legitimate relationship with them and know them as people. In fact, being Huron’s ambassador actually paved the way for me to intern with them this upcoming summer!
Symposium was a truly valuable experience for a variety of reasons and I’m glad that I decided to go again.”
“I attended the Undergraduate Business Symposium both my junior and senior year. I can definitely say that both experiences proved to be very influential in helping me to get an internship and land a full-time job. My junior year I interned with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Global Market Operations & Middle Office, and after graduation I will be working with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey as a Portfolio Management Analyst.
A key factor to success in the job and internship hunt is to network so that when recruiters are looking at your application they can associate a face with a name. I truly believe that Symposium gave me a leg up in the recruiting process because I had been given the opportunity to talk with company representatives in an informal, relaxed setting.
For me, what made my Symposium experience so different from other networking events was that the company representatives are very enthusiastic in learning about what classes you’ve taken, what clubs you are involved in, and where your industry preferences lie. I really enjoyed Friday morning’s exclusive Diversity Networking Breakfast in which I was able to talk with recent Kenan-Flagler graduates at SunTrust who had also attended Symposium and were able to give me pointers on how to network and key persons that I should talk to during the main event that afternoon.
Yes, at first Symposium was overwhelming, but I’m so glad that I attended. My piece of advice for those attending is to do a little research before and develop key talking points. The representatives enjoy talking about how great their companies are, but they enjoy it even more when you can express your knowledge of their company!”
“Kenan-Flagler’s Annual Business Symposium is typically geared towards senior and junior students who are looking to secure internships and full-time offers. Kenan-Flagler puts a lot of emphasis on having an internship after your junior year. As a sophomore student, I decided to attend more so out of curiosity and to begin to establish a professional network.
Due to my curiosity, I found and applied to be an ambassador for EY to the Symposium. My tasks were straightforward: I was to help with the logistics of the EY team; from escorting them to rooms to aiding with set-up. However, I took advantage of my position and was able to form relationships with individuals who were able to pass my name along to recruiting managers.
It has always been said that your network is your net worth. Through the network of people I met at symposium, constant emailing, and numerous interviews, I finally secured a summer internship following my sophomore year, something I never thought would have been possible. One decision led to one of the most incredible summers I have ever had. I have seen myself grow both professionally and intellectually through my internship experience and cannot wait to tackle another internship next year.
My story is not unusual for those who attend the Business Symposium. Most students that do, walk away with a plethora of opportunities and numerous professional contacts who become integral parts of their career future. I definitely recommend all students attend at least one symposium during their undergraduate career.”