Applying Business Skills to Think Outside the Box
Posted December 28, 2018 by Kitrick McCoy
- Undergraduate Student - State University of New York at Geneseo
It was a brisk fall day at the State University of New York at Geneseo, in October 2015. I distinctly remember stopping and looking out at the Genesee Valley, where the college was perched. I thought to myself, where will I be in four years, and how will I achieve my vision?
The Foundation: Business Education
I chose to study business because it is a well-rounded, practical, and a widely valued field. The skills I developed through my business courses have improved my leadership orientation and capability to engage with society. As I studied, I began to draw interdisciplinary connections between my courses that helped me generate new ideas about the environment around me.
Focus on Communication
I began to see firsthand that communication was power early on. The ability to articulate ideas translates into the ability to make change and build buy-in to new ideas.
I sought out experiences and internships that would grow and develop my ability to communicate. Each year of college, I noticed my skills improving.
The Path to Integrative Learning
My college offers a unique integrative learning experience that is called the “student ambassadorship program.” The idea is that you take your prior knowledge, experiences, and skills, then apply them to a completely new project idea. It is up to the student to lead the project that they propose.
I received funding and my idea evolved into what I call my “passion project.”
A Finding That Shifted a Current Model
Did you know that 20% of the population has a recognized disability? Did you also know that some of the world’s greatest thinkers like Einstein, Davinci, and Edison had a disability?
These types of questions were explored in my first disability studies course that I took on a whim at Geneseo to fulfill a general education requirement. I worked with my professor one-on-one to develop a new research topic that had yet to be explored by the disabilities studies community; one that merged disability and business.
I sought out to answer the question: ‘How can we enable high achieving students who happen to have a disability reach their full potential in college to be attractive applicants to industry?”
My project took me on a journey. I traveled to 10 universities and businesses across the Northeast United States. I observed and interviewed hundreds of students, faculty members, staff-members, and parents. I took detailed observations and implemented a survey.
I presented my findings at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Conference and at an international conference in Boston. These conference helped me tap into new resources and improve my project. I also took away valuable insights on mentoring, coaching, and leadership.
I created the “Platform for Excellence” for colleges like mine to redesign their services to students with disabilities to better serve high performing “twice exceptional” students. Improving student retention of students with disabilities at colleges will improve the ability for businesses to attract and retain a future workforce that encompasses all perspectives.
Putting Business Education into Practice
This project has evolved into my passion. It is still ongoing and I foresee this continuing into my career in business. I plan to integrate many of the findings to improve greater diversity inclusion and access into the businesses I associate with. I think that authentic acceptance of diversity is key to the success of a modern business enterprise today. Valuing new perspectives, continuous change, and growth and development, as well as remaining approachable are key behaviors of a leader in today’s complex business climate.
I encourage others to engage in experiences like this to really challenge the status quo and flex outside their comfort zone to do something out of the ordinary.
Kitrick McCoy is majoring in business administration with a marketing minor at State University of New York at Geneseo. He is expected to graduate in 2019.