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Student-Run Summit Brings Top Midwest Business Undergraduates to WSB

by Jane Burns with photos by Paul L. Newby II Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Building a network requires a few new tools from time to time, and more than 50 business students from 11 schools got a chance to expand their toolbox this spring at the Wisconsin School of Business.

For the second year, the school played host to the Midwest Undergraduate Business Summit (MUBS), a WSB student-founded and WSB student-run weekend event that was created to spark collaboration and create networking opportunities for business students throughout the region.

Brian Lauscher

Brian Lauscher (BBA '16)

“It was a natural fit for us,” says Brian Lauscher (BBA ’16), one of the event’s founders and its executive director this year. “It gets the Wisconsin School of Business name out there; it shows the leadership potential of the students at the School that we can put on an event like this.”

Fifty-seven students from business schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, South Dakota, and Wisconsin attended the summit that was held March 31-April 2. It included speakers on topics from entrepreneurship to personal branding, breakout sessions to learn more about internships or experiences at various business schools, and a case competition. Nineteen Wisconsin School of Business BBA students attended.

“The true value of the event is creating a network before you enter the real world,” says Lauscher, who will work for EY (Ernst & Young LLP) in Chicago after graduation. “Wherever you get a job, people will be from other schools and there will be so much to learn from them.”

The chance to network was a draw for Alefiyah Dawoodbhai, a UW–Madison pre-business student, to participate in the summit.

“When I came to college at first I was in engineering,” she says. “I didn’t meet a lot of business students right away so I don’t have the connections other students have. It’s nice to talk to other business students and get their perspective.”

Five students from the Broad School of Management at Michigan State attended the summit. The school’s dean learned about the event and sent a group with different majors who were all part of the school’s senate.

“This is a really cool event run by students,” says Zach Terwilliger, a senior accounting major at Broad.  “I’m pretty impressed they could put this on.”

The idea for the summit came when Lauscher and another WSB student, Mimi Mei (BBA ’16), attended the Undergraduate Business Student Leadership Conference at Emory University in Atlanta in early 2014. With approximately 60 students from around the world attending, Lauscher felt he and Mei had built a meaningful network of future business leaders by attending the conference

“On the plane on the way back we thought, ‘This was such a great opportunity. How can we bring this opportunity to business students in the Midwest?’” he says.

So they started planning for the following fall, working in a hurry to land speakers and connect with other business schools in the Midwest. More than 40 students attended. Organizers lined up four sponsors—American Family Insurance, CUNA Mutual, TDS, and Uline, who all returned for this year’s event.

"The students who created and coordinated MUBS have demonstrated a remarkable amount of initiative and collaboration,” says Kim Mueller, The Compass Program™ coordinator, who is co-advisor for the event with Tara Milliken, BBA career advisor. “The students have continued to make improvements and strengthen the quality of the MUBS experience for participants.”

Steve Schroeder, assistant dean of the Wisconsin BBA Program, says the event was a great opportunity to host undergraduate business leaders from several schools, as well as provide them with an opportunity to network and build on their leadership skills.

“What is truly amazing about MUBS is it is planned and executed by students,” Schroeder says. “It’s yet another way Wisconsin BBA students can put their leadership into practice.”

Lauscher says his goal is for the summit to grow to 75 students, who are selected by their school’s administration to apply and then be accepted by the event’s board of directors. Student attendees are asked what value they’ll find in the conference, and about their leadership experience and goals.

Planning for MUBS 2017 is just getting underway, with a new group of students taking charge. Lauscher makes the pitch for involvement with the conference as a way to build experience beyond an internship and provide opportunities for other business students to develop professionally.