For one couple, the next chapter of their #TempleMade love story is ready to be written.
Zahra Safa visited Main Campus recently, believing she was there to film a testimonial video for the professional development office at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. What the Fox alumna did not expect was a marriage proposal.
Fellow Fox graduate—and now fiancé—Bijan Barikbin surprised Safa at O’Connor Plaza near Founder’s Garden, dropped to one knee, and asked her to marry him.
Spoiler alert: She said yes. (But watch the video.)
— Fox School (@foxschool) October 27, 2017
This year, the Fox School’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) celebrates its 20th anniversary. A 2014 accounting alumna, Safa credits CSPD for aligning her with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she is employed as a talent acquisition senior associate.
To Safa, it seemed natural that CSPD would ask her to film a brief on-camera testimonial to be played during an upcoming anniversary event. After all, Safa met Barikbin in 2014 in CSPD’s offices, where she held a student-worker position. Barikbin had asked to borrow a stapler, and the rest is history.
“We met at Fox, and it just seemed right to get engaged on campus,” said Barikbin, who earned a BBA in Management Information Systems in 2013, and a Master of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber Security in 2014.
Temple’s motto is “Perseverance Conquers.” Ask Safa and Barikbin. They’ll tell you that love does, too.
Let’s be honest: There are many excruciatingly dull business podcasts. We won’t name names, but if you’ve spent time exploring the Podcasts app, you know what we mean. Don’t be discouraged, because there are also several awesome business podcasts worth listening to if you’re seeking inspiring and informative discussions with some of the leading business minds of today. Check out the five below and get ready to learn something new and have fun doing it.
5. Planet Money
With nearly 800 episodes since its debut in 2008, Planet Money’s a fantastic resource if you want to take a deep dive into significant historical and current economic issues and the world of international business. Recent episodes focused on robot phone scams and the inner financial workings of Google and state fairs.
Recommended episode: “When Subaru Came Out”
Ever wonder what it’d be like to start a startup? This podcast’s for you. The first season documented the launch of the digital media company that founded the podcast itself, (the now very successful) Gimlet Media, and recent seasons had episodes focusing on specific entrepreneurs and startups. This podcast is now so popular ABC is creating a sitcom based on it, titled Alex, Inc., starring Zach Braff.
Recommended episode: “Dear Music Fans”
3. 30 for 30
ESPN recently launched the 30 for 30 podcast based on the award-winning documentary series with the same name. It’s not necessarily about business, but there are infinitely many lessons future business leaders can learn from the struggles, the glories, and the unstoppable fighting spirits of professional athletes.
Recommended episode: “The Fighter Inside”
2. Masters of Scale
Reid Hoffman, the cofounder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, hosts this podcast where he interviews some of the most interesting entrepreneurs of our time about the secrets of their success and the evolution of their careers. Former guests include Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Netflix’s Reed Hastings.
Recommended episode: “Grit Happens”
1. How I Built This
Hosted by Guy Raz, the editorial director of TED Radio Hour, How I Built This has spotlighted the innovators and entrepreneurs responsible for founding brands like VICE Media, Rolling Stone, Whole Foods, Kickstarter, Kendra Scott, and TOMS. Prepare to be inspired.
Recommended episode: “Warby Parker”
“How do I make the most of my college experience?” is a question every new college student ponders. Mary Tang, a senior majoring in accounting at the Fox School of Business, has answers.
Tang formerly served as the president of the Temple University chapter of Ascend, a Student Professional Organization (SPO) that fosters Pan-Asian leadership across industries, and she is currently the president of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting, finance, and information systems students.
Tang’s involvement in SPOs had a significant impact on her. After graduation next May, she’ll intern with KPMG, and then she plans to earn an MS in accountancy from Fox and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). But her longterm goal is to stay involved with SPOs.
“For a while,” Tang says, “I thought I wanted to be a partner at a public accounting firm, and I could end up doing that. But since I’ve been so involved with SPOs on campus, I’ve worked with a lot of recruiters, so I know the recruiting process for public accounting firms, which are very specific processes, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’d love to work as a campus recruiter, for a campus organization, and help students in SPOs get internships and jobs. That would be really, really cool.”
From learning how to network with recruiters to becoming an SPO leader, Tang’s learned a ton about optimizing her college experience during her time at Fox and Temple. She shares this wisdom below.
5. Explore Philadelphia
“One thing students forget to do is explore the city,” says Lang. “Philadelphia is one of the best cities in the country and in the world, so it’s important to learn all the history behind it. There’s so much to do, not just in Center City, but many other parts of the city, too. I’m a lot busier now in my senior year, but freshman year is when you have the most time, so new students should take advantage and get to know Philly. I love South Philly. And I’m always in Chinatown; I recommend people go out and have some bubble tea.”
4. Use SEPTA
“Not many students have a car on campus, so SEPTA is the best way to explore Philadelphia. You could Uber and Lyft everywhere, sure, but if you’re going to college in a city, you need to learn how to use that city’s public transportation. Learning how to navigate the subway, trolley, bus, and trains will prepare you for getting to interviews, go out to dinner with friends, or whatever you need to do.”
3. Network/Ask People to Grab Lunch or Coffee
“Friends, classmates, anybody. If you’re at a networking event and you meet someone who’s interesting, definitely grab their business card, but also ask if you can shoot them an email, and ask if they’d like to get together for lunch or coffee. Every time I’ve asked a professional this, they’ve said, ‘Yes.’ I’ve gone on about 15 lunch dates with different professionals. It pays off in the long run.”
2. Talk to the People You See Every Day
“If you walk by someone in the dorm, or the hallway, or you see them in class every day, become friends with them. For business students, learning how to talk to everyone is important. And maybe one day you’ll need their help, or they’ll need your help, so it’s good to become friends with as many people as possible. Start learning how to network by talking to the person next to you in class. Maybe they’ll help you get a job one day, but it’s more important to talk to them like a human and get to know them first.”
1. Become an SPO Leader
“I was perfectly content with being a member of SPOs, but when I learned about the success stories of leaders, I knew I had to join the leadership. The former president of Ascend really challenged me to do and try new things and this helped me learn new skills. That’s when I learned being a leader is a great way to influence people and make a big impact. I knew I wanted to become one, and I did.”
Learn more about the Fox School’s Undergraduate Programs and the Department of Accounting.
The Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management’s inaugural IMPACT Awards ceremony was held in Alter Hall on April 27, 2017. The awards were given to Fox School faculty and staff for exceptional group achievements that made a major impact, including service, teaching, and research contributions.
Applying the peer review approach, the 23 nominations were submitted for evaluation to the entire Fox community. One hundred and twenty-eight faculty and staff members provided ratings. Prizes included glass trophies, customized merchandise to commemorate the achievement, a special group experience, and financial rewards.
“We introduced the IMPACT Awards to recognize the leading group achievements within the Fox School and STHM,” says Dean M. Moshe Porat. “As our schools continue to grow, it will be increasingly critical that we identify areas of opportunity for collaboration between colleagues in order to achieve truly special outcomes. I would like to once again extend my congratulations to everyone involved with the winning projects.”
There were many worthy nominees this year, but only the three top rated entries received IMPACT Awards. The Center for Student Professional Development team won for their impact on student careers, the Temple Analytics Challenge for creating a unique analytics learning opportunity, and the Temple Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program for their decade-long volunteer tax preparation work.
To learn more about these exceptional accomplishments, see the full program descriptions below.
Professional Development: The CSPD “Difference” in the Fox Degree
The Center for Student Professional Development—including Corinne M. Snell, Danielle Harlop, Janis Moore Campbell, Jill A. McGovern, Meredith Okenquist, Katie D. Scheuer, Megan Panaccio, Francesca Gonzales, Lindsay Marek, Pamela Lyman, Ayana Pilgrim-Brown—won for their work on incorporating an essential professional development component into the Fox School’s numerous degree programs. CSPD has positively impacted thousands of BBA, MBA, MS, and PhD students helping them to be prepared to excel on the job market and succeed in whichever career path they may choose.
Temple Analytics Challenge
MIS Department Chair David Schuff and Laurel Miller won for their work with the Temple Analytics Challenge, the annual data analytics and visualization competition organized by the Institute for Business and Information Technology. The Challenge—which involves students from across the university tackling real world problem scenarios from companies like Lockheed Martin, Merck, and QVC, and competing for $12,000 in prizes—has received nearly 1000 entries since its founding four years ago.
Temple Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Representatives from Accounting, Human Resource Management, and the Center for Student Professional Development—namely Steven Balsam, David Ryan, Judith Flaxman, Sheri Risler, Dominique Kliger, DeAnn Willsey, Gwendolyn Bond, and Meredith Okenquist— won for their work with the Temple Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Founded in 2008, the program connects Fox School students with Philadelphia community members to help them prepare federal, state, and local tax returns. They have helped prepare over 3,000 returns and have generated over $4 million dollars of federal and state tax refunds/rebates. In addition to benefiting the community, it provides Fox students valuable experiential learning.
Throughout the day, students from the Fox School of Business filed into Temple University’s Mitten Hall, where a myriad of professional opportunities – and potential employers – awaited.
Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) welcomed a record number of industry partners and hiring managers for its annual Fall Connection networking event. Fall Connection offers a platform through which nearly 1,000 pre-registered Fox School students could shake hands and share resumes with representatives from top employers in the region.
Held Sept. 21, Fall Connection drew representatives from more than 100 companies to campus, helping students identify professional opportunities for full-time employment or summer internships. The networking event supports the sterling reputation of Fox CSPD, which achieved a 94-percent job-placement rate within three months of commencement for undergraduates who utilized its services.
What makes Fox an attractive business school from which to recruit? Here is what a few employers shared on that subject:
The CSPD Difference
“Not only do they put on a superb event, but Fox CSPD also prepares Fox’s students so profoundly,” said Karen Fox, head of university and recruiting partnerships with Vanguard. “The students are polished, their resumes are flawless, and they are dressed to impress. These reasons make the Fox School one of Vanguard’s top feeders, both regionally and nationally.”
“When you meet a Fox student, they carry themselves with confidence, speak clearly, and address you professionally,” said Nicole Davis, a recruiter with Crayola. “This truly sets them apart.”
Said Clay Stewart, a business analyst with SEI: “Fox students have mastered the 30-second elevator pitch. And in a competitive environment like Fall Connection, where students are shoulder to shoulder with their classmates, this can make all the difference.”
“For me, it’s that Temple mindset,” said Matthew Filomeno, a business analysis associate specialist with Merck. “It sounds cliché, but they’re gritty. Temple students work hard, take nothing for granted, and demonstrate that they’re willing to learn.”
“Fox has a reputation around the Philadelphia region and nationally for producing great candidates,” said Ben Profeta, an associate with BlackRock. “We’re invested in Fox to the point where we’ve organized a panel of (Fox) alums who work with us to speak with graduate students in the MS in Investment Management program about their experiences at Blackrock.”
Preparation is paramount
“In this room, with 100 or so employers, it is a challenge for students to know the ins and outs of every company – but Fox students are always prepared,” said Stewart, of SEI. “They’re well-researched, and they save me the trouble of having to explain who we are and what we do. It’s actually quite impressive.”
For students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, setting oneself apart from the rest could be as simple as starting a conversation.
That’s how more than 600 students and 70 corporate partners engaged with one another at the Spring Connection networking event, held Feb. 10 at Mitten Hall and sponsored by Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development.
“If you were a recruiter sitting on the other side of the table, don’t you want somebody who seems genuinely excited about working for your company to come up to you?” said Corinne Snell, Fox’s Assistant Dean for Student Professional Development. “We want our students to take time to research companies, instead of asking, ‘What does your company do?’ We’ve found that that’s what separates our students apart from others.”
Through Fox CSPD’s Fall and Spring Connection events, students connect with employers who are in need of filling openings for internships and full-time positions.
Students have access to information on companies and their vacant positions through Fox CSPD’s unique FoxNet system, said Megan Panaccio, Fox CSPD’s Director of Corporate Relations.
“It really levels the playing field because students aren’t attracted by what they see on a sign; they’re approaching a company’s table because the students have done their background, they’ve looked up the jobs, and they are really interested in the company,” she said.
Legal Studies major Daniela Carmona, a senior, approached employers at Mitten Hall’s high-top tables with confidence as she discussed her qualifications for a position at Enterprise Holdings, the national car rental service.
“Talking to Enterprise, I felt really confident,” she said. “It’s just becoming easier and easier to go up to people and not feeling so timid and shy.”
Carmona credited her newfound confidence to a Professional Development Strategies course in which she had enrolled. The course, a prerequisite for being “CSPD’d,” said Panaccio, motivated Carmona to seek out her professional passion.
Panaccio and her Fox CSPD colleagues made it a priority to offer students access to a variety of fields and industries. For some companies in attendance, Fall and Spring Connection events are a way for employers to promote their respective fields of work.
Blueberry, a marketing research firm that offers both quantitative and qualitative services, was another of the companies assigned to the high-top tables. Junior research associate Allison Peterson and head of the qualitative team Kristen Robeson are able to promote the field of qualitative research, which Robison said, is often overlooked.
“I want to get the word out to get people start thinking about it as a career,” Robison said, “and this is a great place to start.”
Back at Enterprise Holdings’ table was one of many Fox alumni. Allison Porembo, who graduated in May 2015 with a degree in Human Resource Management, remembers what it was like to attend Spring Connection. She said CSPD helped bring out skill sets that she already had, but didn’t have on paper.
“By visiting CSPD, they reminded me of certain skills I could include that I didn’t think would go on my resumé,” Porembo said.
Seeing dynamic interpersonal and professional skills among Fox students was no surprise to Allison Rehmann, talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Holdings, who said the company hires about 30 Temple students a year for internships and full-time positions.
“Each year, I think we are more and more impressed with the student preparation for this event,” she said, “because they come up, introduce themselves and they know exactly what to say.”
Dressed in a dark suit, Karan Patel walked through Mitten Hall shaking hands and charming recruiters at the sixth-annual Fall Connection, a networking event organized by the Fox School of Business’ Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD). He hardly resembled the student who had arrived to February’s CSPD Spring Connection in shirtsleeves and offered a limp handshake.
A junior Marketing major and Management Information Systems minor, Patel no longer considers himself that type of person.
“I wasn’t prepared,” Patel said of the springtime event. “I didn’t impress recruiters, but I learned from my mistakes. The CSPD helped me with that.”
Fall Connection is one of the CSPD’s biannual networking events, the second of which is held during the spring semester. This year’s four-hour event nearly filled Temple University’s Mitten Hall to capacity, matching 89 employers with more than 800 students from the Fox School.
For Fox Assistant Dean for Student Development Corinne Snell, Fall Connection is the CSPD’s signature event and serves as a great kick-off for October’s corporate recruiting season.
“It’s a time to make a positive impression and for students to put in face-time with the recruiters,” Snell said. “Recruiters contact us directly because of the professionalism and polish our students portray.”
This year, Patel considered himself one of those students.
Since his first showing at CSPD’s Spring Connection, he’s completed two successful summer internships with Business Route and Fastenal, continued to build his personal photography service, and joined customer service at World Republic Bank in Haddonfield, N.J.
“I go to bed at 1 a.m. and wake up at 6. I’m running 14-hour days because that’s what it takes,” Patel explained.
Patel is competing for the attention of top-tier employers such as Deloitte, Pepsi, Comcast Corporation, Target, PNC, JP Morgan Chase, Crayola, Independence Blue Cross, and others. With his eyes set on forging corporate friendships, Patel turned to the CSPD to transform his professional persona.
“I tried figuring stuff out on my own, but I had to ask questions. I’ve realized how beneficial the CSPD is to landing a job,” Patel said.
Located at the Fox School of Business, CSPD hosts one-hour workshops to help students prepare for its large-scale networking events. The workshops introduce students to the resources the CSPD office has to offer, including advice on professional attire, resume writing, and mock interviews. Giving students what they call the “CSPD Difference,” staff members work with students on developing a professional edge in the weeks leading up to their corporate connection events.
“We always hear from employers that we’re setting the bar,” said Megan Panaccio, CSPD Director of Corporate Relations. “The employers look forward to our event.”
The strength of its corporate partnerships and its dedication to student development drew Patel, a transfer student, to the Fox School. With his roots in Gujarat, India, Patel said he admires the work ethic his mother and father have demonstrated while working as a Dunkin’ Donuts manager and a convenience store owner, respectively. He considers his efforts through CSPD and Fall Connection stepping-stones to a promising future.
“My mom wakes at 5 a.m. to make lunches for the family,” he said. “She has had to work very hard. My future success is a way to pay her back as much as I can.”
Armed with cell phones, students filling seats near the runway snapped photos and admired their peers’ attire. On this day, the first floor of Alter Hall had been transformed into the setting of a chic fashion show.
Helping to define the dos and don’ts of business attire, the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) at the Fox School of Business hosted its third annual “Work Your Wardrobe: A Fashion Show For Young Professionals” event April 15 in Alter Hall’s Undergrad Commons.
Two-dozen student-models wore styles appropriate for smart business, business casual and business professional scenarios, with each of the looks originating from one of three sources: their personal closets, local consignment shops, or from CSPD retail industry partners.
“I have to be honest – I never knew the difference between the three styles,” said sophomore Chirag Chandna, a Management Information Systems major who modeled a business-casual look. “Now, I can say that I do.”
Work Your Wardrobe has become a staple for Fox’s CSPD, said co-organizers Holly Pfeifer, Assistant Director of Corporate Relations, and Lindsay Teich, Assistant Director of Career Competencies. Pfeifer and Teich said their interactions with Fox students generated a large volume of questions in regard to the culture of business-appropriate couture, leading to the event’s inception.
“One of the core components of the CSPD model is impression management, which accounts for both the verbal and nonverbal communication vehicles of a student’s professional development,” Pfeifer said. “The show is, and continues to be, a great success among students, faculty, staff and employers because it breaks the stereotypical mold of what resources a business school should provide.”
Work Your Wardrobe is a part of the CSPD’s full-service approach to preparing Fox’s students for the professional world upon graduation, engaging students with resume reviews, interview clinics, internship and job fairs and more.
An interactive, hour-long event, Work Your Wardrobe encourages those in attendance to vote on the origin of each outfit. In between walks down the runway, student-models acted out brief skits centered on educating students on how to properly accessorize or tie a necktie. Student-models also offered tips, like avoiding open-toed shoes and maintaining confidence in their looks.
“Feeling comfortable is important, but looking business-appropriate is just as important,” said senior Kehinde Adewunmi, a Management Information Systems major who modeled a smart-casual look. “I’d say a majority of students, before they work with CSPD, just don’t know the dos and don’ts of what to wear to work.”
“I used to think smart-casual meant a nice T-shirt and a nice pair of jeans,” said junior Ryan Rinaldi, a Finance major who sported smart-casual attire. “Obviously, there’s more to it than that, and that’s what Work Your Wardrobe tries to teach students before they make a regrettable fashion mistake in the workplace.”
Mingling between high tables in their business best, students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business actively shook hands and offered resumes to employers from the likes of Comcast, Deloitte and Wawa.
At Mitten Hall for Spring Connection, a grand-scale networking and recruiting event hosted by Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development, more than 1,000 students turned out Feb. 11 to speak with representatives from 74 companies, in the hopes of securing either summer internships or postgraduate full-time employment. They streamed in steadily for the nearly four-hour event and worked the room confidently, having engaged in the first step of professional development preparedness through the CSPD’s resume and networking workshops.
“This event is unique in that is has requirements for the students to attend,” said Fox School Assistant Dean for Student Development Corinne Snell. “Employers like the preparation, the polish and the professionalism. It maximizes student-employer time.”
Snell works with CSPD staff to ensure that before any student introduces himself or herself to an employer, they have researched the company. In reading company overviews prior to their arrival, Snell said, Fox students were able to find the corporate employers and positions for which their skills were a proper fit.
“Preparation is the key to success, and then just put your best foot forward and be confident,” Snell said.
As the conversations grew to a steady roar, Holly Pfeifer, CSPD Assistant Director for Corporate Relations and Spring Connection’s organizer, remarked upon the increasing student and employer participation.
“In the past five years, our Spring Connections have averaged about 64 employers. We beat the average this spring with 74 registrations, and the employers seem very energetic,” said Pfeifer. “They’ve said the students at the Fox School are like no other school at which they’ve recruited.”
Included in the employer turnout were Temple and Fox School alumni returning to do what Pfeifer calls “leading the charge and building the Owl network.” Pfeifer continued to say that the majority of employers present had developed a relationship with the CSPD and frequently reached out to Fox students with internship or employment opportunities.
Among them was campus recruiter for Prudential Financial, Kristen Bennett, who has worked with the CSPD before to recruit students for her company’s summer internship.
“We’ve had a strong relationship with Temple throughout the years, particularly the CSPD. They help us really find the right student,” Bennett said.
As a campus recruiter, Bennett has seen a lot of resumes and was impressed with the “elevator pitch” that students gave to employers and the knowledge they presented with regarding the company’s goals.
Seconding Bennett’s thoughts was Gabrielle Nader, talent acquisition specialist with McGladrey, an accounting and consulting firm. Nader, who previously has hired Fox students, was in search of 30 to 35 students to join McGladrey’s summer leadership program.
“We’re looking for outgoing and well-rounded students who get our culture, who know this isn’t just a job,” Nader said.
Sophomore Finance major Joe Heidt joined Nader in the handshaking fray. For Heidt, the experience presented a larger opportunity for future success.
“I want to look early and look at everything,” Heidt said. “Networking is getting into someone’s mind and being memorable. If I get my name out, employers will recognize me next summer, too.”