Freshmen Take “FIRST Step” Into Social Entrepreneurship
September 24, 2008
Three hundred sixty freshmen ushered in a new era in business education at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, this fall semester, as they began participating in the newly created MGT 100 course called FIRST Step. The School’s new course, an acronym for Freshman Integrity, Responsibility and Success through Teamwork was the brainchild of Vice Dean Linda Neider as a way to expose students to business ethical principles, teamwork and the challenges that organizations face in the twenty-first century.
Through the efforts of Assistant Dean and course facilitator, Ellen McPhillip, student teams met with local nonprofit organizations to structure their participation in one of 33 projects. Each project offers an opportunity for service-oriented organizations to better meet the needs of their constituents through activities such as branding, social entrepreneurship, and improved business plans. Some of the freshmen teams will also work within the university community on greening initiatives and developing their own business initiatives.
One of the nonprofit organizations working with freshmen student teams is Coconut Grove Cares, directed by Sylvia Jordan (BA ’71). This organization is specifically hoping to increase their visibility in the Miami community by having student teams help them develop programs promoting their various services. Another organization, Shake-a-Leg Miami Aquatic Center and Marine Academy, which helps children and adults with physical, developmental and economic challenges, is utilizing student teams to improve the organization’s effectiveness on several different fronts.
After a project introduction and planning meeting conducted by faculty of the various MGT 100 sections, students were placed into their respective teams and began discussing specific project ideas with the organizations present.
“Excellent!” said several students working with Shake-A-Leg Miami about their proposed projects. “We started with this convoluted idea and developed a strategic plan that can be implemented right here. We are going to blow this out of the water, no pun intended,” said Ryan Simone with a wink referring to the water- oriented services offered by Shake-A-Leg Miami.
“There are a lot of changes we can make, and in the end we just want to do as much good as we can,” said economics major Enid Magari of the program.
Required for all freshmen, the MGT 100 course also serves as leadership training for upperclassmen who act as project managers, directing and assisting the first-year students. Alexandra Prueitt, a junior who is participating as a teaching assistant, said of the new program, “I wish I had the opportunity to get involved in the community as a freshman and work with other students.”
“This program is going to have tremendous impact on our students and our community,” said Ellen McPhillip, assistant dean of undergraduate programs and facilitator of the FIRST step program. “Students have the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom in a real-world setting, giving them an edge in launching their careers, and local organizations benefit from the talent, energy and creativity brought by the students.”
The FIRST Step program is a semester long Management 100 course. In addition to their work with the non-profit sector, students will attend lectures, analyze case studies, and develop multi-media presentations on ethics and ethical decision-making in the business environment.