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The School of Business Experience: Q&A with alumna, Cori Scales

Aug. 15, 2019 - Edward Beckwith

Cori Scales came to VCU’s School of Business excited to see where her education could take her. She chose to transfer from Connecticut after her freshman year. What really caught her eye about VCU was the International Consulting Program at the School of Business. The program offered her the opportunity to travel to another country and gain experience working on a multicultural team.

Recently, we spoke with Cori to get her take on her experiences at VCU’s School of Business. Here’s what she had to say:

As a transfer student, why was it the right choice for you?

I transferred from Connecticut after my freshman year, and what drew me to VCU was the International Consulting Program and how much support and resources were available. That's what brought me to VCU and the business program.

Talk about ICP. You went to Spain, correct?

Yes. I worked for an interactive software company there. They were doing some pretty big stuff. Their main competitors were PowerPoint and Google Slides, but they separate themselves because they're more interactive. I did consulting work with their marketing team, so I helped to really distinguish their brand from their competitors.

How did the culture at VCU’s School of Business help you prepare for the group dynamics abroad?

During the three years that I was at VCU, I always had group projects. Basically, every class requires a group project at some point in time. It was an experiential approach, and I really liked it. For example, my favorite class incorporated these case studies that were very realistic, and the professor really makes you think rather than the typical “Go home, read this case study and get tested on it next week.” The teachers at VCU really make the exercises worthwhile and make you think as a marketing consultant. They try to make it as real as possible.

In comparison to all those places you've traveled, what makes VCU and Richmond so unique?

I feel like, at the School of Business, all the students are really motivated. Especially senior year, when it comes time to graduate. Just being able to discuss your goals and plans with peers that have the same goal in mind is just really effective and even more motivating. It's pretty cool to have that close of a network. Students at VCU’s School of Business and VCU’s marketing students are all pretty close knit, and we all want to see each other achieve. It’s a really great environment for being around people your own age. Everyone's open to helping each other —  not just in the classroom setting, but when it comes to finding jobs as well.

What would you say is the benefit of mixing creativity with a business education?

I don't like the standard, “Go home, read this, go home, study a couple terms” approach. It's just way more effective with a little creativity sprinkled in. For example, I interned for last three years at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. I was in the marketing program there and interned in supply chain management and communications. The exercises from my School of Business classes allowed me to really excel using creativity. I was able to give real-life input on different situations through my internships. You really notice that your professors affect your approach on different exercises and projects that you're given overall throughout internships and job experiences.

Talk to me about Career Services.

So, my advisor at Career Services was a huge help. I used to struggle with anxiety, especially going into senior year. I really wanted to nail all those interviews with different employers. I had one interview, and it didn't go so well. I was very nervous. So, I was like, “Let me actually try out Career Services and just see what they can provide for me to do better on the next interview.” Rather than just beating myself up over it, my advisor and I did countless mock interviews to strengthen my interview skills.

How did the Career Services staff go above and beyond?

I didn't feel like it was a normal advisor session at other schools, where they just give you 30 minutes and were like, “Oh, take a couple notes,” and it's over. You could really tell that the advisers cared about helping me and the other students achieve our goals. They were patient with me and would block out as much time as possible to work with students one on one.

Can you give examples of how they helped you overcome your challenges?

My advisor really opened up to me. She gave me her phone number and told me to call her before my interview, or after, to help me feel confident. It's something that I really appreciated. She would also give me sample pre-interview questions that I could practice with. She gave me a little packet, so I can go home and study it. Obviously, all of the questions that she provided to me weren't exactly in my interview, but just going through the different questions helped me feel more prepared.

Any advice for current or future School of Business students?

Take into account all the different experiences you've learned, both inside VCU and outside, meaning internships and different jobs that you've held. Really take pride in those experiences, especially going into interviews during your senior year. You have all the qualifications you need to just be confident in yourself. You know who you are, and you know what you've done to get to this position. Be confident in yourself. Don't ever doubt yourself. Don't ever doubt your experiences. Allow yourself to flourish. And don't be afraid to show off in an interview. People want to see that. They want to see that you’re confident in your qualifications. Don't ever undersell yourself. Use that interview, as well as your time at VCU, as your time to shine.