Monday May 1, 2006

Attention-grabbing Resumes

Here's a resume that grabs attention. Jenna LaFrankie will graduate from the University of Dayton with two degrees--and the experience of managing a $1.2 million company while a student.

Jenna LaFrankie's first job after college might look like a step down.

After all, where do you go after managing a profitable company that opened three new divisions and transformed another in the past two years? Revenues are projected at $1.2 million this year.

"It's going to be hard going from being in charge of so much, but I tried to pick a company that would allow for a lot of growth. There's an entrepreneurial feel to the company. That's why I chose it," said LaFrankie, who's trading her job as CEO of Flyer Enterprises at the University of Dayton for a consultant's role at Protiviti, a Chicago-based international provider of independent internal audit and business and technology risk consulting services.

LaFrankie, of West Chester, Ohio, graduates May 7 with a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurship and accounting and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. It's not her near-perfect grade point average or internship with Deloitte that jump first off her resume. It's her experience overseeing the seven retail divisions of Flyer Enterprises staffed by 168 student employees. The companies range from gourmet coffee shops to an upscale café to a convenience store. Nationally, only Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford boast larger student-run organizations.

College graduates this spring will enter the best job market in four years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but none of LaFrankie's friends landed their first job in November -- a solid six months before graduation.

"Without a doubt, people are impressed (with the Flyer Enterprises experience)," said LaFrankie as she sipped a strawberry smoothie in the ArtStreet Café, one of the newest student-run ventures located in the student neighborhood on the University of Dayton's campus. "After managing Flyer Enterprises, I noticed a big difference in my confidence level going into those interviews. It was so easy to give an answer and back it up with one or two examples from my experience. The interviews turned into conversations rather than someone grilling you."

LaFrankie and other student executives in Flyer Enterprises develop financial strategies, build brand names, negotiate with vendors, implement marketing campaigns, hire and fire employees, and research and develop business plans for new ventures -- all on top of being full-time college students.

As CEO, LaFrankie earned $1,500 a month and hard-knocks experience that she can draw upon in her professional career. During her tenure, which also included six-month stints as chief financial officer and president, she presented a strategic plan to the company's board of directors, fired a manager and made the unpopular decision to pull T-shirts off the shelves because some parents and students complained about their emphasis on binge drinking. She also analyzed two proposed new ventures -- a café in the School of Law and a graphic design agency.

Dick Flaute, executive-in-residence and adviser to Flyer Enterprises, said the students are entering the job market with an edge. "These students are given a great deal of freedom to make strategic decisions and to invest University funds to back up those decisions. They are given the opportunity to fail, but they quickly become dedicated executives who diligently pursue getting profitable results," he said. "I am excited to see all the extra work they are willing to put into their Flyer Enterprises' roles, and I am amazed at their level of business sophistication."

Flyer Enterprises began in 1990 with the opening of Rudy's Fly-Buy, a convenience store. The University of Dayton's entrepreneurship program began in 1999 with 10 students and now enrolls a record 140 undergraduate majors. The program has been named one of the top-10 entrepreneurship-emphasis programs in the nation, according to Entrepreneur magazine, and UD has been recognized as the country's 15th "most entrepreneurial campus" by The Princeton Review and Forbes.com. According to a new survey by the Kauffman Foundation, campuses offering at least one course in entrepreneurship are up more than sixfold -- from 300 in 1984-85 to 1,992 today. Entrepreneurship is one of the fastest growing majors on college campuses.

The daughter of an assistant principal at an elementary school and a sales manager, LaFrankie hopes to open a pre-school one day. During the past two years, she served as a Big Sister to a 13-year-old Dayton Public School student. For now, she's looking forward to focusing on her career without the pressure of classes and exams.

"I learned a lot about balance this year," she said. "It's not just running a business but having a full class schedule. Doing a job for 50 hours a week won't seem like much in comparison."

Contact Jenna LaFrankie at (513) 324-8601 and Dick Flaute at (937) 229-3706.