Freshmen Orientation [fresh-muhn awr-ee-uhn-tey-shuhn] noun
- The beginning of a student’s college experience.
- An exciting, scary, nerve-wracking day filled with a ton of fresh faces, a newfound sense of independence, a whole lot of information.
A landmark beginning to every student’s college career, freshmen orientation is a day highly anticipated by soon-to-be college freshmen everywhere.
Freshmen orientation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business is no different. Each year several hundred new students file into the Riggs Alumni Center to meet their classmates, faculty and staff, and get acquainted with life at Smith and at the University of Maryland, College Park.
What sets the Smith School’s freshmen orientation apart is its sponsor: Ernst & Young.
The Smith School partnership with Ernst & Young creates an initial sense of community among its students and employers, showing students that employers care about their wellbeing and development and don't just see them as numbers of potential recruits. This relationship between Smith and Ernst & Young is 30 years old and continues to remains strong.
For four years now, Ernst & Young has hosted the Freshmen Fellows Orientation at Smith, welcoming bright-eyed, eager students to the top-ranked business school. This year’s orientation took place on Aug. 28, 2012, with a theme of “navigating change in your life and career.”
The nervous energy in the Riggs Ballroom was palpable as 294 Freshmen Fellows filled the room. All freshmen admitted to the Smith School are given the opportunity to participate in Freshmen Fellows, an active learning community that incorporates experiential learning opportunities for Smith students through site visits, speakers and professional development activities.
Along with the new students was the brand new associate dean of undergraduate studies, Victor Mullins. He welcomed the freshmen to Smith, sharing words of wisdom before introducing a few members of the Ernst & Young team.
“You are about to embark on an exceptional journey. The undergraduate experience is one of the most important journeys in the world and in four years, you will change,” he said. “You have to become an active participant to achieve what you want to achieve,” he finished, encouraging students to make the most of their time in College Park.
Then, Mullins introduced members of the Ernst & Young team, including Anthony Calderazzi ’92, Laura Freitag ’89, Michael Poerksen, Marie Accius, and 15 Ernst & Young mentors.
In turn, Calderazzi, Freitag, Poerksen and Accius all offered students his or her own advice to the enthusiastic students:
- “You know how you are feeling right now?” Accius said to students, calling on their wide range of emotions. “Well someone in this room is feeling and thinking the exact same thing.”
- “Don’t just take on superficial roles in the activities you partake in,” Calderazzi said, advising the students to play bigger roles in fewer things, rather than smaller roles in more things. “You can really clutter yourself and your resume. Pick a few things to participate in and grow with them.”
- “Make sure you look at your personal and professional goals,” offered Poerksen. “Make sure there is a good balance.”
- “Stray from your comfort circle,” advised Freitag, adding that it’s great to find a mentor who can test your comfort level without pushing you too far.
- “Think about what you want your resume to look like and work at filling those empty spaces with experiences at Smith,” Calderazzi said. “Is that experience going to be a differentiator? Be honest with yourself about opportunities.”
- “We are here as a firm to help you as we can to navigate through this change and transition,” said Accius.
To round out their orientation experience, students also participated in icebreakers to get to know one another better and attended success sessions on topics including career preparation at Ernst & Young and building their Smith experience, among others.
Before heading back to the dorms and preparing for class to start on Wednesday, Aug. 29, the students got to take advantage of something all college students can appreciate: free food. Their orientation ended with a dinner provided by Ernst & Young and networking with one another and their new professional contacts.