Students in the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University are getting a hands-on head start in the global business world through the Residential Business Program (RBP). Expanded this year to include more students, the program provides a multicultural residential academic experience for aspiring business leaders and offers them opportunities for both personal and professional growth.

Multicultural living and learning

RBP admits slightly fewer than 200 freshmen into the program each year from all business majors, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and geographic areas. Students in the program have access to tutoring, the River Trail Engagement Center, and the knowledge and expertise of the college’s Multicultural Business Programs (MBP).  Since freshmen RBP students live together in McDonel Hall, they also have access to the entire RBP community — from fellow underclassmen in the program to upperclassmen who have returned as resident advisors (RAs) and teaching assistants for RBP seminars to RBP staff.

For freshman RBP student Sarah Belcher, the environment has been invaluable. “It really is a community within the business community, within the entire campus. It is the perfect way to start here at MSU since many of us are going through the same things academically and have the same goals.”

Jessica Sun, a sophomore interested in supply chain management, adds, “With the Residential Business Program, students form valuable connections with people they will enter the business college and world with and get to know faculty and staff early on, so it’s a great foundation.”

Opportunities for leadership

Through the RBP seminars, Passport to Leadership Program, support of MBP, and interactions with corporate mentors, students develop the leadership and relational skills necessary for today’s multicultural business world. The Passport to Leadership Program also highlights workshops, campus events, networking, speakers, and community engagement opportunities to help students develop skills and experiences desired by companies, including global and multicultural awareness, career and academic success, leadership and professional development, and community and civic engagement.

Sarah explains how the program has helped her develop so far, “RBP puts you leaps and bounds ahead in terms of professionalism and preparing for the future. The program prepared me for career fairs, interviews, and overall leadership experience. These were opportunities I may not have had until my junior year otherwise.”

Supporting students

Corporate mentors from Altria, Bosch, Deloitte, Dow Corning, and General Motors have generously given their time to support the program. As part of their mentorship, the companies work with RBP student teams to set up chats, site visits, and research real world business cases. In addition, financial support has been an important component of the program’s success. The recently established Ilitch Scholar’s Program, established through a gift from Michael and Marian Ilitich, will provide scholarships to students in the program. This support will help students in the program have resources that will shape and prepare them for their education and careers.

Jessica explains that she is often asked why she is so far ahead of the game. She credits RBP when she responds, “I have to point to my mentors in this program that allow us to enrich ourselves and take full advantage of the resources available.”