It was 4:30 in the morning and the alarm wouldn’t stop.
It was June 4 and time for this year’s 17 Organizational Studies (OS) Summer Session students to start their day (in suits and skirts, no less). At least, this was a requirement if they wanted to make their flight to New York, where they were scheduled to witness the ringing of the NASDAQ OMX bell, visit the NFL corporate offices, spend time with recent Denison Alumni Citation recipient Jonathan Silverstein ’89, and tour the ESPN offices later that day.
Their original flight had been canceled the night before, so they did what professionals in the business world do: They got a few hours of sleep and flew in their business attire.
“We laughed over it and moved on, but stuff like that really happens in the workforce, so it was good to smile and learn about it at the same time,” said education and psychology double major Abbi Boss ’15.
The students’ time in New York was one of many trips coordinated by Organizational Studies Director Dave Przybyla in order to meet alumni and friends of Denison in the workplace. This year’s Summer Session also spent time on campus, in Cleveland, and, for the first time in program history, overseas.
Before going to New York, the students traveled around London and Paris in late May to get a sense of what it would be like to work in an international environment. In an increasingly global business setting, Przybyla, who also serves as an associate professor in Denison’s Department of Psychology, considers these skills to be essential.
“More and more, Denison graduates will be working with people from other cultures and will have to adapt to living in other countries,” said Przybyla, or “PRZ” (pronounced “Priz”), as some of his students call him. “The week we spent in London addressed the changes that happen even in a country that speaks English in terms of the vernacular and culture.”
The summer session, alongside four core classes, a summer internship, and a final paper, is a requirement to graduate from Denison with a certificate in Organizational Studies.
Denison has offered the OS Program for the past 18 years. Originally a brainstorm of the board of trustees, the idea is to help prepare students for the world awaiting after Denison.
“Whether you are a doctor, a symphony conductor, a college professor, an elementary school teacher, or dive head-first into the business world when you leave Denison, you will likely work for an organization,” says Przybyla, who is also a professor in Denison’s psychology department. “It helps to have certain basic knowledge of how organizations operate, how teams function in organizations, how to be an effective leader and manager.”
These topics and more are covered during the intensive Summer Session, which is tailored each year to engage the interests of the students attending. For instance, Przybyla explains, if members of the group are interested in the world of fashion, he will find speakers who work in that field.
Regardless, each day of the session looks different. Among other things, students learn about etiquette and finance, they run simulations about workplace problems, and meet with alumni to learn about their career paths. During this particular session, the four weeks culminated with employees of Deloitte Consulting (including several alums) coming to campus and judging presentations made by student groups.
With such a diverse curriculum, the goal of the program is to introduce students to a variety of career paths and skills, which is especially important in helping students like Boss, who are unsure of their exact post-Denison plans. “We just learned so much, and it wasn’t in a classroom,” says the Buffalo, N.Y., native. “I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do, but I now have a better idea.”
After completing the session in early July, the participants will set off for internships across the country in everything from banking to market research to education. As OS students have done in the past, this group will continue meeting throughout the school year with occasional reunions.
“The relationships definitely made the program worthwhile. Not only do you get to know alumni well, but you also spend all day, every day with the same people. We even all lived in King together. I loved growing so close with these people as we all go into our senior year,” says Boss, who considers the OS program “one of the hidden gems of Denison.”
Who knows, maybe in five years some of these same students will follow in the footsteps of other OS alumni and come back to Denison to teach the next generation of OS students.