Business Fest Brings Companies to Campus

By Broadside Staff Reporter Ethan Vaughan

Business Fest 2008, a George Mason University School of Management event, was held in Dewberry Hall on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The function’s stated goal was to bring local companies to campus and help act as “a liaison for students to the business world,” was hailed as a success by the organizers, who reported a turnout of 200 to 300 attendees, approximately 100 more than had been expected.

More than 30 different organizations sent representatives to the gathering, among them were the U.S. Department of Education, Wachovia Corp. and Northrop Grumman.

Employees from the various associations involved set up tables on the hall floor where they met with students, imparted their own experiences in the business world, gave useful tips, and, in a few cases, accepted resumés.

Heather Shaner, a junior pursuing a double major in accounting and management who transferred to Mason from NOVA this year, says that arranging and executing Business Fest was a combination of tremendous effort on the part of many different people.

Shaner, the president of the Society for Human Resource Management, is a member of the co-ed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and said that Business Fest was her idea. The concept came to her “a few days before Christmas,” when she called Amir Edjlali, senior vice president of Delta Sigma Pi, for his opinion.

When both agreed that the event was a worthwhile venture, they sought and received the permission of Alison O’Brian, Assistant Dean for the Mason School of Management, to proceed with planning.

What followed was a one-month-long rush to get everything ready in time.

Meeting this goal required the combined labor of eight different campus organizations: Delta Sigma Pi, the Society for Human Resource Management, Beta Alpha Psi, the George Mason Securities Club, the Mason Entrepreneurs’ Club, the GMU Financial Management Association, the GMU International Business Organization and the GMU American Marketing Association.

These groups have since decided to continue coordination, in large part, Shaner and Edjlali said, because of Business Fest’s success.

The combined body is now known as the Mason Business Coalition.

If preparation required numerous meetings over the Christmas holiday and several “all-nighters,” the participants believe that it was worth it.

“I want the organizations to be able to grow…to help students,” Shaner said.

Business Fest 2008 was sponsored by Stelor Productions. The Maryland-based company was founded several years ago when CEO Steven Esrig’s then-five-year-old son accidentally accessed inappropriate information on a webpage. Stelor Productions markets both products to block undesirable content and a line of children’s products based on characters called “Googles” from the planet “Goo.”

Stelor states that its mission is to “teach children valuable lessons about science and the environment, raise self-esteem, and lower anxiety” and keep “things magical for just a little longer, even in the face of the Internet.”

Esrig was the featured guest speaker, and expounded to students the lessons he learned while creating and then managing a successful company.

“Money tends to make you more of who you are,” he opened to the crowd.

He then went on to extol the values of extracurricular activities, calling the notion that they don’t matter in college “a myth” and further asserting that “everything in life leads down to networking.”

Esrig is a cousin to Mason senior Sam Wilson, a fact that Mason Coalition member Emily Paton said played a “part in getting the company here.”

She qualifies, however, that while Esrig’s cousin initially brought his attention to Business Fest, it was the premise itself that truly drew him in.

Thirty-one other companies were also present, mingling with students who were almost exclusively upperclassmen and business majors.

According to organizer Heather Shaner, one of the major goals of the interactions was “helping lowerclassmen get internships. For the seniors, it’s networking experience. They might land a job from this.”

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