Summer b-school

The rise of B-school summer camp for college students

June 27, 2012: 2:06 PM ET

These summer experiences offer deep dives into business fundamentals and are especially helpful to liberal arts graduates with little class work or training in business.

By David Bogoslaw

(Poets&Quants) -- For most college students, summer is a time for catching up with friends back home and working on your tan. But for a growing number of ambitious undergraduates, it's also a time for the equivalent of business school boot camp.

These summer experiences, which typically range from three to eight weeks in length, are deep dives into business fundamentals and are especially helpful to liberal arts graduates with little class work or training in business. The idea is to give graduates a leg up in landing an internship and, eventually, a job after graduation. And they're run by prestigious schools like Stanford, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, and UC-Berkeley's Haas School.

Summer business programs for non-business majors are designed for undergrads like Sam Ellis who don't want to limit their curricular choices but feel the need to differentiate themselves in a tight job market. A double major in sport science and economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Ellis took the Kenan-Flagler Business School's Business Essentials program in 2010, prior to his senior year. "I figured that having a fundamental understanding of business practices would be advantageous to me no matter what career path I ultimately chose."

Most companies recognize the importance of bringing in people with varied academic backgrounds but they also see the value of having a business background layered on top of that, says Brenda Stover, director of Professional Development and Business Institutes at the Villanova School of Business.

Although 25.5% of the class of 2012 that applied for a job already has secured one, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) 2012 Student Survey, that's roughly half the percentage of accounting, engineering, computer science, economics, and business administration majors, who had received at least one offer.

Who are these programs for, exactly?

Most summer programs cater mainly to a university's own students, while some, like the Business Bridge program at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, cast a much wider net. Up to 40% of Bridge students may come from Dartmouth, with the rest representing 50 other colleges on average, from across the country.  More

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