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>  News Releases >   2003 >   August

Intensive business training for a liberal arts student

Posted 08/13/03, Noah Tsika '05

Students gain skills through real consulting projects

Allison Zeilinger '04

Fearing a cruel job market, Allison Zeilinger '04 felt that she needed a way to augment her liberal arts education, which she said was satisfying, but incomplete. An art history major, the 21-year-old recently spent a month at the Tuck School of Business learning business skills - accounting, management, finance, and the like - which she believes will improve her chances of finding a job, and understanding which jobs will interest her, after graduation next spring

"It's common knowledge that none of the Bridge participants from last year failed to get a job," she said, adding that the reputation of the school-ranked No.1 in The Wall Street Journal Guide to Top Business Schools 2003-will precede her.

The program, commenced in the summer of 1997 and called the Business Bridge Program, has been attracting rising juniors and seniors from colleges across the nation, all of whom are looking to supplement their liberal arts or science degrees with intensive business training. In four weeks, the program offers skills in accounting, finance, managerial economics, marketing, and management communications, all of which can enhance a student's résumé.

Zeilinger found out about the program, which enrolled 89 students in her session, through an information conference given by Paul Doscher, Marketing Coordinator for the Business Bridge Program. "He sold me," she said. "His enthusiasm, his energy, made me want to learn more."

Zeilinger was accepted for the session that ended July 11. She submitted a three-part application that includes SAT scores, a college transcript, and a series of essays. Calling the experience "demanding and highly valuable," she worked on a consulting project that looked at marketing avenues for a treatment of hypertension. Confidentiality agreements mean that students cannot go into details about these projects. She and her teammates - all Bridge students are assigned to small groups in order to develop communication skills - delved into their assignment, which is an authentic venture, not a simulation.

Zeilinger's project, initiated by physician Dan Carlin of the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., gives students a hands-on look at distribution channels and target markets for a hypertension treatment. "He's looking to us to research different avenues for marketing," Zeilinger explained. "How does he get his product from production to the patients?"

According to Carlin, the students' work has been invaluable. "I [recently] had a chance to go over all the materials put together by the different groups," said Carlin. "I found at least four things we did not know or had not thought of, some of which will certainly influence our thinking as we move forward."

The group atmosphere - the emphasis on teamwork - clearly facilitated the implementation of these projects. "What's great about the program," explained Zeilinger, "is that we learn marketing strategy as a team, focusing on our own specific consulting project. It requires us to do quite a bit of research. We're constantly looking into different possibilities, we're constantly collaborating; an emphasis on teamwork is one of Tuck's strong suits."

Beginning her Dartmouth career as an engineering major modified with studio art, Zeilinger soon turned to economics, but later opted for an art history major. "I asked myself, What are the four years at Dartmouth really supposed to be about?" she said. "I want to learn about culture and history and art, but at the same time I know that I want to go into business."

Zeilinger, who said she was apprehensive about graduating with no business credentials, said she sees the Bridge program as unique. "It has been perfect for me," she said. "The program isn't just about the theory of economics - it's also about accounting, about finance, about marketing strategy, which [most colleges] don't even offer to undergraduates."

"It has been intense, though," she said, "We're often told that we're getting a six-week curriculum in just four weeks, so it's definitely more bang for your buck. But it can be difficult, because we have class all day-from 9 until 4:30, and sometimes as late as 7 p.m."

The second consulting project, known simply as "The Golf Project," involved the marketing of a laser putter, one of many on the market. The students in The Golf Project, whose regional focus is the southeastern United States, specifically Florida, worked on logo designs and promotional events.

The last consulting project, known as "The Solar Project," was started by David Hall, owner of the Tannery Mall in Newbury, Mass. Hall said he is an environmentally conscious business owner who is looking to install solar panels in his mall, and Bridge students working on this consulting project said they expected to help Hall achieve his goal.

The consulting projects, which the students present to both faculty members and clients, are at the heart of the program. "They're rigorous," said Doscher. "The students know about the level of work when they enter the program, and they love it. They're constantly challenged and motivated."

Zeilinger said the Bridge Program gave her some business background so that next year she will be able to begin her job search with confidence. She is spending the remainder of the summer working in Time Inc.'s Marketing Research Department, in New York City, collaborating with the company's magazine editorial department (specifically, with the magazines Southern Accents, Health, Cooking Light, and Costal Living).

"I'm more confident now," Zeilinger said, "and I know that employers can see my level of dedication."

-Noah Tsika '05

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