By Kara Turey
This month’s Alumni Spotlight in the UCF College of Business Graduate Programs is Jessica Gelband. She earned a Master of Science in Management-Integrated Business. Jessica has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from James Madison University.
After graduating from James Madison University, Jessica Gelband, a native of Chapel Hill, NC., planned to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work and UCF was her top choice. Her father had earned a Ph.D. and her mother, a Master’s degree so she knew she wanted to further her education. She arrived in Florida as an out of state resident and chose to work for a year in retail while earning in-state residency so graduate school would be affordable. It was while she was working that she realized that business was her calling.
Looking through the UCF catalog, she was trying to decide which program would fit her best. Her boyfriend, a recent College of Business graduate, showed her an email advertising a new program: Master of Science in Management-Integrated Business. The program was for recent college graduates who came from a non-business background- this was a perfect fit for Jessica and what she was looking for in a program.
A self-described “workhorse”, she never liked group work before arriving at UCF. However, Jessica came to love working in groups in this program. She never had any issues and feels that working in groups, “we learned how to communicate, prioritize, and deliver constructive feedback within our groups. All this is extremely applicable to the business world, not just the classroom.” The flipped-classroom approach to teaching was great for her. A flipped-classroom is completing learning modules on their own before class, and then during class, that same material is further discussed, clarified, and then applied. It is a no lecture approach and a lot of hands-on learning. This type of teaching helped her achieve her full academic potential.
Jessica is grateful that while attending UCF, she was able to secure an internship in her first semester of the program at Newleaf Training and Development in Orlando. This has led to a position at the company and she loves working there. In this role, she is responsible for building and maintaining the professional business pipeline and performs sales research for future projects and clients. She has a growing interest in corporate management training, development, and coaching.
About Your College Experience
How accessible are the faculty?
The faculty are extremely accessible. Some professors give out their personal cell phone numbers, others ask to be emailed through web courses, or regular email. I never had a problem getting into contact with a professor when I needed to and always heard from them within 24 hours. The program also offers a mentor program, which is a unique opportunity that should be taken advantage of by students. Your mentors are matched based on your personal career goals, and the mentors give you real-life advice to help achieve those goals.
What was the most beneficial thing you learned from the program? How do you use it in your current role?
There were so many beneficial things I learned, but probably the most beneficial was learning how to work in a team effectively. Group work and teamwork is rarely easy, and so learning how to navigate certain obstacles such as avoiding groupthink and social loafing, how to give constructive feedback, motivating group members, and using effective communication techniques.
We also learned how to give an elevator pitch. Dr. Henry and Dr. DeGeorge were especially beneficial when it came to helping us craft our elevator pitches. It is such an important concept when networking and job-hunting that I never even considered before the program. I was able to perfect my elevator pitch and it helped land me my first internship during my first semester of the program.
What was your favorite memory from the program?
The connections I made. As a smaller cohort, we grew very close with one another and became like a family. With Covid-19, it’s been hard not being able to see people you’ve spent so much time with for nearly a year.
How will your UCF graduate degree help in your career and how has it set you apart from your colleagues/peers?
I am proud to say that through this graduate program, I was able to obtain my first internship, ever. During my undergraduate career, I was primarily a research assistant, so therefore I had very little work experience other than my retail jobs. I was able to obtain my internship in November 2019, during my first semester at UCF. That internship has grown into a job at a company I am proud to work for. I got that internship by attending a presentation at the exchange, talking to the presenter afterward, asking for an interview. This never would have happened without UCF and its many resources, and so for that, I am extremely grateful. I feel that this sets me apart from my peers. I also worked, only part-time, while earning my graduate degree to gain work experience simultaneously.
Jessica is already on a career track after completing graduate school. There is no doubt she will continue to make great strides in her chosen field and will represent UCF well in the community and business world. Good luck Jessica and Go Knights!