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Choosing a business school partner: 4 things to look for 

By Chloe Lane

Updated May 12, 2022 Updated May 12, 2022

Sponsored by the Penn State Smeal College of Business 

When choosing a business school, the long-term connections and support offered by faculty and your peers are just as important as the degree content.  

This is why the Penn State Smeal College of Business focuses on its role as a business school partner. A true business partner, Smeal offers long-term support that lasts well beyond graduation, with industry connections, tailored advice and information about career opportunities. 

So, what makes a good business school partner? To Smeal Residential MBA alumna Qing Liu, a business school partnership means that “students are seen and supported as unique individuals and are engaged and supported continuously even after the graduation.” 

 She added: “The Smeal programme’s small size and its vast school network made it a great business school partner for me.” 

To know whether a business school will be a good fit for you, look for these four things.  

Programmes that allow for customisation and lifelong learning   

A business school should have a programme that you can tailor to meet your career goals and interests.  

At Penn State Smeal, flexible, customisable learning plans are encouraged. From one- and two- year programmes to the twice-monthly Executive MBA programme to the online MBA programme and the extensive selection of online master’s and graduate certificates, there are plenty of ways students can expand their courses to build a learning plan that’s unique to them. 

This played a large part in why Qing chose Penn State Smeal. She said: “I chose to study at Penn State Smeal to continue my lifelong learning in business in the world-class academic environment and to elevate my career opportunities.” 

This enabled Qing to tailor her MBA to help her career in marketing in the technology industry. She appreciated the programme’s prestige and connections to technology companies.  

“Smeal has an MBA programme with high ROI, and it’s the target school for many technology companies,” she said.  

In fact, 97 percent of Smeal’s MBA graduates are in work just three months after graduation, earning around $115,000 (~£87,000). 

Opportunities for practical, real-world learning  

Business schools should offer programmes that are firmly rooted in real-world experience and frequently updated to keep up with market trends. Look for programmes that will teach you relevant, practical skills that are applicable to business situations. 

Smeal aims to offer a real-world perspective both inside and outside of the classroom, with industry professionals collaborating with experienced faculty members to offer a unique insight and enhance the school’s teaching. 

“Penn State Smeal appealed to me because of its high standards, the excellent success rate of its graduates and the experience I would gain to further myself in achieving my goals,” said Smeal alumnus Eduardo Trevino Estrada, who studied a Master’s in Management and Organizational Leadership in 2019 and a Master’s in Corporate Finance in 2020.  

Students also benefit from Smeal’s dedicated careers services, which prepare students for professional success throughout their careers.  

Since graduating in May, Eduardo has been working as a District Manager for Aldi Inc. He will be taking over his own district at the end of this month.  

“While at Smeal, I took advantage of the careers services where I was able to have mock interviews, get advice on different career paths and build a professional resume,” Eduardo said.  

Qing also used Penn State Smeal’s career services to progress her career, securing an internship two months into her MBA. This then resulted in a full-time job in marketing with Dell Technologies.  

A business school with strong moral and ethical values  

Studying at a business school with a strong sense of ethics will make you extremely attractive to employers. Look for a school which promotes a culture of sustainability, integrity and diversity. 

“As an undergraduate student at Smeal, I had courses that covered everything from diversity management and corporate social responsibility to ethical studies,” said Eduardo.  

Students will benefit from hearing different perspectives and will work alongside people with different skills and abilities, from many different cultures.  

Qing also benefited from Smeal’s openness to celebrating and embracing new cultures. One of Qing’s most memorable moments was when she organised Smeal MBA’s Lunar New Year Gala during her first year. Peers from different cultures and backgrounds came together to learn about Asian culture, enjoy Asian cuisine, practice Asian dances and play traditional games. 

Qing said: “Smeal’s student body is very diverse, and we were offered a platform and many opportunities to celebrate our own and appreciate other cultures.” 

An active and supporting alumni network 

Being part a collaborative, driven alumni community will help you build professional connections and open up a range of business opportunities. 

Penn State has one of the largest alumni associations in the country, with more than 700,000 Penn State graduates and 88,000 Smeal alumni.  

Since graduating, Eduardo has used the school’s network to his advantage.  

He said: “As graduates of Smeal, we still have access to the careers office and their support, access to the college’s career fairs and the school’s great alumni network.  

“Since graduating I have made meaningful connections with other alumni in my field who have been a great support network in figuring out the professional world.” 

The Penn State Alumni Association provides numerous ways for graduates to stay connected, including networking events, LinkedIn groups and an online alumni directory. Qing recently enjoyed attending the Smeal Global Lion Gathering event in Texas. 

“The event brought Smeal MBA alumni together in the Austin area, and I was able to get updates about our programme from the Smeal team and make connections with Smeal alumni who live and work in the same area.” 

This article was originally published in March 2022 . It was last updated in May 2022

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Written by

As Content Editor for and, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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