“I’m here to break things down into baby steps [for students] to learn and to grow because none of us figure this out on our own — we need support,” said Ann Crain, programs coordinator and academic advisor for Multicultural Business Programs within the Broad College. “We hope to be that place for students to step outside of their comfort zone and know that if they mess it up, there are people to help them put things back together.”
Crain has been with the Broad College since 2004, helping to create a culture of success for Spartans. Her work allows her to provide support for students through various stages of college life, from making the transition from high school to college, to applying to the Broad College of Business, to landing the right job after graduation.
“I was an MSU undergrad and I didn’t get this kind of support to make the transition to move from school to my career,” she said. “That’s why I do what I do.”
This month’s episode of the Spartan BizCast features Crain sharing how her work and MBP are making a lasting impact for students.
“Our No. 1 priority is supporting students to gain admission to the Broad College,” Crain said. “We help students navigate the admissions process and other university processes.”
She explained that MBP’s next priorities are ensuring that students are admitted to their intended major and helping students secure their first internship experience.
“Professional development is key,” she said. “We help them understand what their major looks like in the real world and what the discipline is.”
MBP also offers tutoring and advising services, which have been at the core of its mission since it was founded in 1986. “We like to say, ‘Tutoring is for students who work smarter,’ and this attitude is critical to a student’s success,” Crain explained.
“Our tutoring program is different from other tutoring programs on campus,” she said. “Tutoring is scheduled — instead of drop-in — and two to three students are assigned to a consistent, regular tutor. We find that this builds a mentoring relationship over the course of the semester.”
In addition, MBP embraces and celebrates the strength of diversity, often through its flagship events. On Feb. 19, MBP will host its 19th annual Multicultural Heroes Hall of Fame Case Competition, in celebration of Black History Month. Since its inception, this event has given more than 500 MSU students the chance to learn about leaders who have made an impact for equality and compete to induct these heroes into the hall of fame.
“Every year I learn new things,” Crain said. “It’s very powerful and impressive what the students put together, from the research to the presentations. Different heroes bring our different aspects of understanding civil and human rights movements.”
Other annual MBP events that showcase strengths of diversity and inclusion are Latinx College Day, the NAHBS Professional Development Dinner and the MBS annual leadership retreat, which celebrated its 21st year last fall.
At many of these events, corporate partners and alumni are present to serve as role models for business students. “It’s so important for people of color and women to see people that have been in their position and now are successful leaders,” Crain said.
“Our student organizations bring in companies every two weeks to talk about their work and share a skill set, like writing a resume, how to dress for an interview or dynamics of work-life balance,” she said. “They talk about a skill that [students] can put into practice that will help them be successful at MSU.”
The corporate leaders stand to benefit from this partnership, too. “Most of the companies are looking for underrepresented students. With our help, they make a connection with a student and have seen the relationships lead to a full-time hire,” Crain said. “They’re investing in students as early as freshman year, so it can be rewarding for them to see the growth of students over their four years.”
Crain emphasized that through it all, she encourages students to take small steps to gradually build confidence and grow professional skills over their time at MSU. “I tell my students to do one career-related thing a week,” she said. “You don’t have to do everything, it can be something small or something big, but the cumulative impact will prepare you for future success.”
To hear more from Ann Crain on her role with Multicultural Business Programs, tune in to this month’s episode of the Spartan BizCast.