The University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management prepares students for the world they will face when they leave the university - even if they are only freshmen today. It can be a shock to undergraduates who declare an interest in business and move into an advisement environment that is focused on how they look, talk and interact with faculty and other students.

Anderson's Advisement Center advisors begin immediately to talk to students about becoming their own brand. That means helping them think about how the world looks at them.

Anderson workshops on dressing for the workplace are more than a suggestion. They are strongly encouraged.

“It’s all about the personal brand and that’s one of the reasons we say if you are five minutes late to your appointment, you need to reschedule, because this affects your personal brand," said Florencio Olguin, student success specialist at Anderson Advisement Center. "Are you going to be five minutes late for an interview? No. You are going to make sure you are on time and that you dress accordingly. No flip flops. No jeans. We have representatives from Men’s Wearhouse and Banana Republic come in an bring samples. This is what you should be wearing to an interview.”

Pre-business students who are still taking the core curriculum can meet with advisors to plan the next semester, their entire academic and professional career goals or attend five minute “Speed Advising” sessions to solve specific problems.

It’s part of an advisement reorganization at UNM to retain students and keep them moving toward a degree. Administrators realized some students stayed in University College, where they were first admitted for several semesters, without moving into one of the degree granting colleges.

Students who took too much time to explore their options sometimes exhausted their lottery scholarship money and dropped out without getting a degree. The advisement reorganization is meant to help keep students on track.

Florencio Olguin and Tracey Wilkey
Florencio Olguin and Tracey Wilkey.

“We have best practices for students when they come to an advisement appointment," said Tracy Wilkey, director of ASM student services. "We talk to them about being prepared for their advisement appointment, to have a plan for their progress into the next semester.”

Students who are admitted to Anderson go through an introduction process that gives them the information they need. They get a short reenactment of a bad student advisement appointment and a good one, so there’s no question about what the student is responsible for in preparing their schedule.

Like having to reschedule when arriving more than five minutes late for an advising appointment is a subtle cue that students are now in a business environment and must interact with faculty and advisors professionally.

Anderson is unique at UNM because it has a strong focus on how graduates look, act and behave. In addition to the workshops on dress, resume building and interview preparation, the school offers etiquette dinners where students learn which fork to use in a formal dinner setting and how to converse.

Anderson’s Advisement Center is responsible for keeping more than 3,600 students on the path toward graduation and they are very serious about it.

“We have a required one hour management class that is part of the curriculum and must be taken in order to graduate. Students get resume development, professional branding and learn how to write cover letters,” Wilkey said.

Anderson renews emphasis on 3-2 program
Last year the Anderson Advisement Center renewed an emphasis on a 3-2 program that allows undergraduates in their senior year to take business courses that can be used as a minor and as credit for a Master’s of Business Administration.

Victoria Dieruf-Caldwell is taking advantage of Anderson's 3-2 program that allows undergraduates in their senior year to take business courses that can be used as a minor and as credit for a Master’s of Business Administration.

Victoria Dieruf-Caldwell is a senior in biology who plans to graduate in May. She is currently taking the Anderson courses that will become her minor. She was going to graduate, work for a while then come back to school for a master’s degree. Finding out about the 3-2 program changed her mind. “But this opportunity came up,” she said, “And it’s also a lot cheaper because my scholarship covers the half that I’m doing right now.”

She is thinking about combining the biology and business degrees to work in the healthcare field. “It was a no brainer for me because I figured in the long run the master’s in business would be flexible and since it was cheaper and faster, it really worked out.”

Dieruf-Caldwell has a note of caution for students who might want to take this path. “If you want to do the program, start early in planning to do it so you know when to take the GRE and allocate enough time to do the minor during your senior year.” She is grateful for the advisors who steered her to the entry level classes in business so she wasn’t overwhelmed by courses that required more time and thought.  

Anderson Career Services
Anderson’s in-house Career Services Office is part of the student advisement center. Students have multiple opportunities to interview for summer internships and industry jobs as they prepare to graduate. Anderson advisors and career services development facilitators work hard to make sure students have every opportunity to get a job on their way out of the door after graduation.

If a student isn’t sure that business is their passion, Anderson advisors will help them think about other options. Olguin said sometimes students just need someone with whom to discuss options. “Are you not able to pass calculus? Maybe business isn’t for you. Let’s look at some other great degrees that UNM offers.” A student can get a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree and take some management classes that might help in a career. The Anderson advisors are happy to help students work that out.

Anderson helps undergraduates take ownership of their degree plan by creating a contract to sign as they near graduation. The contract guarantees that students will graduate if they successfully complete the required courses. Wilkey said it eliminates surprises for students and is a way to make sure they have access to all the necessary courses in a timely way.

Each school and college at UNM has its own way of preparing graduates for the working world, but Anderson really stands out for the polish it gives students as they prepare to graduate.