School of Business gives students opportunities to jumpstart careers

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Judd Leighton School of Business students eating lunch with their new mentors. PHOTO/Ian Brown

Staff Writer

Students of the Judd Leighton School of Business met their new mentors for the first time last week.

Juniors and seniors of the School of Business have the opportunity to participate in the Executive Mentor Program, where they are paired with mentors from various companies around the South Bend area.

Having a mentor is one an ideal way for students to get the hands-on experience they need to take that first step into pursuing their careers after graduation. Not only are mentorship programs beneficial to the mentees, but also the mentors are able to help the community by passing on years of information they have acquired in their occupations.

The program was created in 2014 by the dean of the School of Business at the time, Rob Ducoffe. Last year, Ducoffe accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin as vice chancellor. To take his place, his very own mentee, P.N. Saksena was named interim dean in April.

“What I would like to see us do is create the Judd Leighton brand in the community, where when you see the Judd Leighton School, everybody knows it’s a school of business,” said Saksena. “I want to create a brand that is known for engaging the students; that is known for transforming the lives of our students.”

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredits IUSB’s business school. According to the organization’s website, they provide business intelligence and management education to 775 business schools, across 52 countries and territories. That means only about five percent of business schools in the world can say they are members of the AACSB. Notre Dame is the only other school in the area to be accredited.

Saksena said that the Judd Leighton School is in a partnership with Launch Elkhart, a program that is part of the chamber of commerce, which will give students the opportunity to work in the Innovation Center, in South Bend.

The program gives students initiative to pursue a path in entrepreneurship. For example, if they have an idea for a product, whether it is material or digital, but lack the technical skills to develop their concept, they can engage with the technical students at Purdue to help them develop their idea. Then, they can engage with marketing students to help promote their idea. This creates a co-working space that is productive and efficient in helping students get on the path to success.

Currently, Saksena is hoping to create a “Shark Tank-type of operation,” not only for business students, but for all majors on campus to compete with their ideas. Winners will have half of their workspace rent paid for the year by Launch Elkhart, who will help make their product a reality.

“We will give you the tools,” said Saksena. “You’ll work in the Innovation Center, you create a product or an idea, you present it to a panel of experts. Some of them are venture capitalists. You win the competition, and we’ll pay half your rent to be in this program for the first year.”

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