It was a simple goal. Fill 30 seats in a program only two years old but growing in popularity. Q-camp, named for University of Richmond Alumnus, Paul Queally, began in February 2008, offering business school students an off-campus experiential learning opportunity. Students refine their career interests and goals, identify resources for the job search, define critical skills for internship success, and learn strategies for development as a future business leader.  The program, directed by Shelley Burns, brings together students, faculty, staff, corporate partners, alumni, and members of the Career Development Center, all in an effort to provide information and experiences in preparation for business beyond the classroom.

Registration for Q-camp, which more than doubled this year, also included a wait list. The overwhelming interest speaks to the dedication of Robins School students to be as prepared for their careers as possible. In response to the increased student interest, changes were made to increase capacity at the event, with 71 students accepted & expected to attend (compared to 30 students in 2009). Sixty-four students ultimately attended.

As the event grew closer, so too did the threat of a winter blizzard. Days (even hours) before the event began, some of the speakers and guest volunteers cancelled. As plans began to unravel, individuals emerged with innovative ideas for keeping Q-camp in motion. Several speakers offered to spend the night at the hotel to ensure that their presentation would go on as scheduled, while others, who lived nearby, offered to be “on call,” if needed.

Friday began with students checking in to the beautiful Wyndham Virginia Crossings Resort Hotel. In no time, they were deep into their learning sessions, starting with introductions, icebreakers and goal setting. After an afternoon on “The Art of Communicating (Part 1),” where students learned the fundamentals of communication and the importance of their “elevator pitch,” students then prepared for what is known as the “Etiquette Dinner.” One of the  more popular events within Q-camp, the etiquette dinner brings together students and alumni, in an effort to create an environment where one can not only learn and practice proper dining etiquette, but one in which students learn to practice their newly acquired networking and conversation skills with others at their table. A rousing success, the dinner concluded later in the evening, with students heading back to their rooms for the night and snow starting to twinkle in the sky.

Saturday, snowy and cold, Q-camp continues with the enthusiastic (& some snow-giddy) guests. “The Art of Communication (Part 2),” “How to Speed-Read People,” ”Internship and Summer Employment: Are You Ready?”, and “Maintaining and Building Your Network” sessions filled the day. With over a foot of snow on the ground, afternoon networking and dinner sessions with alumni and corporate partners were cancelled and students learned that they would be snowed in at the hotel.... Leaving on Saturday night, as originally planned, appeared to be out of the question. The buses just couldn’t get there.

Q-camp Snow

Being well-prepared, Robins School staff had planned for just such an occurrence. Students were to stay another night and the buses would make an attempt to retrieve them from the hotel on Sunday. Now, thanks to the fortitude of the bus drivers and the hard work of the School’s staff, all made it safely home by Sunday afternoon, and student reviews of Q-camp were excellent. “The students’ responses to being snowbound were very impressive. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and appreciative group of students,” said Shelley Burns.

Student Responses:

“Q Camp 2010 was a unique opportunity for me. It has renewed my excitement about the business world and given me an opportunity to go outside of my comfort level to reflect on my personal style, learn a lot of practical information, and interact with a diverse group of individuals, all in a welcoming environment. I left this weekend with a heightened sense of confidence in both myself as well as my decision to pursue business here at the University of Richmond,” one student said.

Visit the Robins School Web site for more information and a photo slideshow from Q-camp 2010 events.

Thanks to all those dedicated individuals who helped make this year’s Q-camp a success, including Joe Testani (UR Career Development Center), Christina McClung (Northwestern Financial Network) , Pete Bartok (KPMG) and Charles Collie (Boldstroke Consulting), who all braved the snow and presented to students on Saturday. Thanks to the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Resort (host hotel) and Winn Transportation (bus service) who made every effort to be flexible and accommodating. Special thanks to Andi Minor, Special Events for the Robins School of Business, who planned the intricate details and managed logistical on-site issues throughout the conference.