Conference offers opportunity to share business research
When Hossein Varamini came to Elizabethtown College in 2000, he brought along an idea of sharing business students’ accomplishments by way of a conference. Four international business majors participated that first year, presenting their research papers to other students and talking with faculty members about research they’d worked on throughout the year.
At the 17th-Annual Student Conference in Business & Economics, which took place this past April at the College’s James B. Hoover Center for Business, 20 students presented research papers and class work. Fellow students and several Elizabethtown College faculty members offered feedback.
Though the concept of the Conference is similar to the College’s Scholarship and Creative Arts Days (SCAD), the Business Conference was in place several years before SCAD was formed. “This program is the same (as SCAD) in terms of providing opportunity to share research and papers,” said Varamini, Turnbull-Jamieson Professor of Finance and International Business at Elizabethtown. But this Conference is specifically for students in business disciplines, he said.
We provide more opportunity for students — willing to put in the additional work — to shine.”
Most taking part in the Conference are seniors, Varamini said. A few, however, present research, at varying levels of knowledge, each year they are in the program.
This Conference sets the College’s undergraduate program apart from other College’. “We provide more opportunity for students — willing to put in the additional work — to shine,” said Varamini.
“Presenting at the Business Conference is the beginning of a roadmap for them to continue on,” he said. “The abstracts of the papers go on to be printed in our annual Digest. Some students go on to national conferences. … Five or six of these research papers have been published in national journals.”
Varamini said he sends out Conference invitations to nearby colleges and universities inviting their students to come to E-town to present. Students from Franklin & Marshall, Susquehanna and Millersville universities have participated in the Conference. “There was even a student from Northeastern University in Boston, this year,” he said.
A couple of faculty members have worked with Varamini as co-organizers of the conference in the past. This year Kristi Kneas, dean for academic affairs and faculty development, offered the opening remarks at the beginning of this year’s conference, and a committee comprising business faculty members and a business student coordinated Conference planning. Madi McCall, a senior international business major with a concentration in finance, sat on the committee.
McCall has been a student assistant to Varamini, helping him with the incoming international business class, putting together student profile sheets so the professor can contact them to discuss the major.
When McCall was accepted at Elizabethtown, she planned to be a business major, but, after speaking with Varamini, she switched to international business.
Two years ago, McCall said, she saw her peers present their research at the Conference. “I saw this young man present and thought ‘I want to do that’,” she said. She said she might not have participated if she had not seen him speak.
As an extra spin on her experience, Varamini “thought it would be a good experience for me to see (the Conference) from both sides. Organizing and presenting,” McCall said.
Her committee role, she said, was to add student perspective to Conference planning. Her student role was to present her Honors in the Discipline research on ‘Impact Investing as a way to solve social problems.’ The faculty mentor-based research was important her she said. “We are a smaller school, so the faculty-student interaction is greater.” Seeing the conference from both sides confirmed this.
The Bath, Pennsylvania, native won one of the Conference’s Best Paper Awards, voted on by fellow students and faculty members, said Varmini, and she was just accepted for an entry level client specialist position with Vanguard in Malvern. She said the financial position starts two months after graduation.