Want a Free Ride to Grad School?

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With graduation on the horizon and the job prospects for many seniors looking bleak, continuing on with higher education is a popular option. Not to mention, it’s a surefire way to gain new skills and parlay them into a job immediately out of the classroom, rather than piddling around after getting that diploma.

The Fordham University Graduate School of Business Administration is welcoming students who are flocking to grad school in a revolutionary way. On May 1, Fordham kicked off the Fordham Business Challenge, a competition that caters to recent graduates with liberal arts degrees who are having trouble finding employment.

The contest consists of four cases, each one corresponding to Fordham’s new graduate programs: 1. Marketing Intelligence; 2. Business Analytics; 3. Business Enterprise; and 4. Media Entrepreneurship. The cases present challenges relating to each field of study, ranging from pitching an original new media venture, to studying and reporting on a brand and its customers.

WIFM? (What’s in it for me?) The winner walks away with a free ride to Fordham’s yearlong program. Then first and second runners-up in each case receive 50 percent and 25 percent off tuition, respectively. Additionally, the winner of the case in business enterprise will have an offer to start an internship with Sony Music Entertainment's Director of Consumer Research & Analytics. The winner of the marketing intelligence case will get an invite to participate in a marketing workshop at the Food Network. Even simply entering into the contest will replace the process of submitting a traditional application to Fordham. Not too shabby, eh?

So far the response has been overwhelming. Within the first three days, the contest page garnered more than 2,000 visits and over 40 sign ups. According to Dean David Gautschi, the school typically receives 3,000 applications to the graduate school. Because of the buzz the contest created, Gautschi expects many more.

“College seniors are looking at a pretty gloomy job market,” Gautschi said. “This is a way to get them see what they have in front of them.”

Gautschi joined the school in 2010 and in his two subsequent years the school has grown quite a bit, both with new programs as well as the launching of this contest. Before starting the Challenge, Gautschi said the school never marketed itself. The Fordham Business Challenge is a pilot program and if the applications continue to pile up, the school will have to consider making it an annual staple.

“Since I've been here, we will have rolled out eight new programs, either focused on career paths or targeting a large market who are not being served,” Gautschi said.

It’s especially that market of graduates with liberal arts degrees that Gautschi wants to scoop up and train.

What industry is looking for are people with critical thinking skills, who can think analytically and who are also creative,” Gautschi said. “MBA programs are just not heeding the need.”

With these new programs attracting a lot of attention, students clearly recognize the importance of what they need to pull down that first job. But at Fordham, Gautschi says they’re trying to do a little more than help student get their foot in the door.

“[The programs] will help anyone, not just with initial jobs, but with putting themselves on a path,” Gautschi said.

To enter the Fordham Business Challenge, go to http://www.fordhambusinesschallenge.com. The deadline is May 31st 2012.

Senior > Journalism > University of Maryland