national undergraduate business symposium

Michigan Ross Shines in the National Spotlight as the Host of Two Undergraduate Business Symposiums

This month, Michigan Ross welcomed students and business educators from the nation’s top undergraduate business programs to Ann Arbor. For the first time ever, Ross hosted two national conferences: the Career Undergraduate Business Symposium (CUBS) and the National Undergraduate Business Symposium (NUBS). Made up of a collaboration of 39 of the most elite business schools with undergraduate programs, these conferences provided a great opportunity to share best practices and discuss challenges and opportunities in business education and career services. 

Two major conferences convene at Michigan Ross 

The activities kicked off on Tuesday, March 28 with a tour of Michigan Stadium. The next day, attendees were treated to a tour of the Michigan Ross campus before diving into the main CUBS events, which included an employer panel on post-pandemic changes in recruiting and a session focused on strategies for greater Gen Z engagement. 

“Hosting career directors from top business schools was an excellent way to utilize their long-standing expertise and new perspectives for thinking about the future of our profession post-COVID-19 — especially given how students’ engagement levels and the process of recruiting have changed,” said Heather Byrne, managing director of the Career Development Office. “It was also wonderful to show off our amazing facility and have Nigel Melville, associate professor of technology and operations, talk about ChatGPT and discuss its potential impact on the career search process.”

Melville led a CUBS session focused on how artificial intelligence can impact career development. The session, which included approximately 65 participants, introduced AI and led into a discussion of how it can be used in business and to advance the mission of career services.

“Career services is extremely important at a business school, so I was delighted to interact with career services professionals and help them along their learning journey to use AI for advancing our mission,” said Melville.

national undergraduate business symposium

The NUBS conference began on Thursday, March 30 and covered a number of important topics, including challenges faced by first-generation students, innovations in business education, new norms in the post-pandemic classroom, and mental health teaching and support.

As this year’s host, Michigan Ross did a couple things differently. In an effort to differentiate the Michigan Ross NUBS event, an advising track was added. The advising track included special sessions for coaching and academic advising, and also benchmarked how institutions are approaching orientations, advising of career ladders, and focusing on student and staff wellness.

“Advising leaders came together to discuss a wide range of topics for how we work to support students — this included sharing information and best practices around advising delivery and structure, advising staff career growth and development, orientation programming, and student support and advising technology,“ said Katrina Vegter, academic advising director, Office of Undergraduate Programs. “The new track was received positively. We are working on scheduling a follow-up virtual meeting to continue discussions that were started at NUBS, as well as to collaborate and share information. We hope to see an advising track continue in future conferences.”

One of the most popular sessions was the first-generation student NUBS panel that included three student panelists: Annie Wang, BBA ’23, from Michigan Ross, and students from the University of California, Berkeley and The University of Texas at Austin. 

Sharon F. Matusik, Edward J. Frey Dean of Business, who was also a first-generation student, moderated the discussion that centered on access, belonging, and success.

“Dean Matusik did a great job moderating the panel and asking the important questions,” said Wang. “I truly felt supported and heard by the audience, which allowed me to be vulnerable and share stories in my journey that I had once repressed. This panel was a powerful tool in bridging the gap between college decision-makers and an underrepresented student population.”

“It was truly a pleasure to moderate the NUBS student panel focused on the unique experiences of first-generation students,” said Matusik. “I’m very proud of Michigan Ross for leading the discussion on how to support these students, and greatly appreciate how open they were in sharing their stories.”

Wang emphasized the importance of giving first-generation college students an opportunity to be heard and to share their experiences with each other and B-school leaders.

“I felt that having a dedicated space for first-generation college student voices to share their experiences in front of influential university decision-makers was a huge step in the right direction of promoting diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces in higher education institutions,” said Wang. “By sharing my college struggles and opportunities, I was able to provide useful insights on resource gaps, useful opportunities, and biggest challenges for first-generation students that universities can use to better support incoming first-generation college students.”

History of NUBS and CUBS

national undergraduate business symposium

NUBS was first launched in the early 1990s as a way for faculty and staff business school leaders to exchange information and ideas, especially as undergraduate business became an increasingly popular major. Today, NUBS mostly consists of administrative and faculty directors who convene to discuss key issues, best practices in undergraduate business education, and ideas for innovation.

About a decade ago, the idea was raised that a separate conference focused on career trajectory and development may be beneficial for business school career professionals. As a result, CUBS was established as a forum for directors of business school career placement offices to discuss key issues in undergraduate recruiting and hiring. 

“NUBS and CUBS are very popular conferences that have very consistent participation from year to year simply because the content and the people make the event,” said Paul Kirsch, managing director, Office of Undergraduate Programs. “The feedback that we’re hearing from this year’s events is in line with the fact that they loved Ann Arbor and they loved our facilities, and they also felt that the networking and content was top notch.”

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