Marlin Business Conference builds careers

On Wednesday, April 10, students from the MBE 101: Introduction to Business class competed in a Shark Tank competition in Brock Commons. 

McKenna Howenstine and Josh Pagett|Marlin Chronicle

The Marlin Business Conference has a popular opening ceremony and events with a broader focus than previous years.

From Monday, April 8 to Thursday, April 11, the Marlin community gathered for an enriching conference focused on building careers. This event, the Marlin Business Conference, has traditionally catered to the College of Management, Business and Economics. However, this spring, it expanded its reach to include the broader Marlin community, emphasizing entrepreneurship and ethical business practices.

Professor Frank Futyma, lecturer in Business, Management and Economics, shared insights into the evolution of the conference. “The idea is that through this [inclusivity], we’re teaching people to be entrepreneurs from day one,” Futyma said. 

The conference featured a series of competitions tailored for MBE 101: Introduction to Business, attracting not only Business majors but also students from diverse disciplines. Futyma highlighted the inclusive nature of the event.

“We have a number of people who are not Business majors who take that as an elective, but the vast majority of people are Business majors,” Futyma said.

Junior Parker Lucas, who is a Business minor, participated in the Shark Tank competition during the fall semester.

“I definitely think it’s neat,” Lucas said. “Last semester, I was participating, and I didn’t run it, but I did the competitions and stuff. Now, it’s kind of cool to see the other side.”

Lucas is currently taking MBE 101 and took on the head of fundraising role for the conference. A Computer Science major, he also helped the conference’s technology team.

Funding for the conference was raised through various initiatives, showcasing the community’s commitment to self-sufficiency. “We pay for this with the money we earn. It’s not like we take grants or other kinds of things like that,” Futyma said. “We have car washes, we’ll go to student events to sell things.”

The dedication and hard work of participants was evident throughout the conference.

“There’s just an incredible amount of work. They are doing so above and beyond what the norm is,” Futyma said. “It’s self-sacrifice. It’s them doing a lot of good and a lot of hard work.”

One of the highlights of the conference was the presence of industry leaders, including the chief executive officer of Stihl Corporation, offering internship opportunities directly with the company. Additionally, companies like Veolia and Binder Dijker Otte (BDO) provided internship opportunities for students, further enhancing the conference’s value. 

“So what are we doing? We are providing opportunities that you don’t do at other universities; we are providing opportunities to go and to meet and greet and to socialize, that just aren’t done,” Futyma said. “So why would people want to come here? Because we do that for our students.”

Along with Lucas, junior Aaron Raynor can attest to the hard work that goes into the conference, as well as the gratification that comes with it. Raynor, like Lucas, is a Business minor and worked as Vice President of Finance (VPF) for the conference.

On the first day of the conference, Raynor said he was most looking forward to seeing the “big picture” of the conference coming together. “The thing I’m looking forward to the most is like just seeing our hard work pay off, like all the fundraising we’ve done, all the research we had to do or just like all the time we had to put in to make this event work,” Raynor said.

With an increase in participation at the conference, the hard work definitely paid off. The conference saw a significant increase in attendance compared to previous years, with over 130 individuals participating in the opening ceremony alone, compared to 83 attendees at last semester’s opening ceremony. This growth in participation reflects the community’s commitment to continuous improvement and providing valuable opportunities for its members. 

“It’s a continuous improvement from one conference to the other,” Futyma said. “We’ve gotten better from the standpoint of quality that we’ve been able to accomplish from the perspective of going and providing more for our students and for the other departments in the school.”

The Marlin community exemplifies a commitment to entrepreneurship, ethics and inclusive education. By providing valuable opportunities and fostering collaboration between students and industry leaders, the Marlin Business Conference continues to be a cornerstone of academic excellence and professional development at Virginia Wesleyan.

By Jennifer Mejia