SSE conference aims to offer business education

May 16, 2013, 11:57 p.m.

Applications close this Sunday for the ninth-annual Business Leadership Program (BLP), an intensive five-day conference hosted by Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) before classes begin in September.

The program, which will accept 50 rising seniors and co-term students, was initially created to provide — according to BLP’s website — “a concentrated, focused and guided opportunity for business education” in an effort to address the lack of a pre-business major.

BLP includes case study workshops, lectures by Stanford professors and one-on-one sessions with representatives from companies like J.P. Morgan, Cooliris and Accenture. According to Miller Aaron ’15, general manager of development at SSE, BLP is unique because of the intimate setting it creates for participants.

“This differentiates it from other career development and networking programs, which sets the tone for the conference,” Aaron said. “It also strips away much of the formality and tension that surrounds recruiting events.”

According to Eric Mattson ’15, last year’s BLP director, participants described the networking experiences as invaluable.

“One student said that the night events allowed for them and the representatives to both present a more candid, authentic side of themselves,” Mattson said. “It was definitely memorable for both the students and the reps because they got to interact on a more personal level and beyond the scope of work.”

Students also attend skills workshops and learn how to prepare for interviews, which “ensure that the potential of each participant is maximized,” according to Aaron.

“Like anything that you dedicate a full week to, the benefits are much pronounced than when investing your time sporadically,” Aaron said. “The program is designed to provide quick comparisons and serve as an immersion into networking.”

While Aaron could not yet provide the final number of applicants for this year’s conference, he noted that there has already been an increase in applications — and a more academically diverse applicant group — from previous years.

He attributed the increase in part to the program’s efforts to recruit both firms and students from a wide range of industries.

“We hope that by incorporating more variety, we can attract students who might not typically identify as being ‘interested in business,’” Aaron said.

According to Aaron, SSE has pursued partnerships with several startups, non-profit organizations and small technology firms that would otherwise be overshadowed during the recruiting season.

“In the past, we have had complaints about the lack of sector diversity, with finance and consulting firms seemingly dominating the roster,” Aaron said. “We want more firms and students to be involved, and so there has been much effort to rebrand BLP, which has proven fruitful so far.”

Andy Wang ’14, an economics and earth systems major who attended the conference last year, said that BLP allowed him to “get a jump start” on assessing potential career paths.

“One of the most useful components of BLP was the diversity of companies that were involved, which allowed me to explore different industries, as well as the positions these companies offered,” Wang said.

On the final day of the conference, Wang was able to engage in an in-depth conversation with a Google representative, which he cited as one of the most valuable experiences of the program.

“I enjoyed that immensely because I was able to gain a more informed perspective [of] my career interests, aside from the avalanche of information that we were presented with throughout the week,” Wang said.

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