Jayne Ference is the Director of Academic Services. Learn how her team impacts the MBA student experience from the day they enter the program until they cross the convocation stage.
Ashton Paulitsch (AP): How long have you worked for the University of Alberta?
Jayne Ference (JF): I’ve worked at the Alberta School of Business since 2006. I was in the Dean’s Office for two years and came to the Masters Programs Office in 2008 in an academic advisor role and moved into the Director, Academic Services position about two years ago.
AP: How does Academic Services impact the MBA student experience?
JF: Academic Services helps MBA students during their studies by enrolling them in classes, providing timetable information, planning study tours and advising students on program requirements to ensure they graduate and get the most out of their experience. I recommend that students read the emails we send throughout their time in the program because they contain important information and reminders. They are welcome to come see us anytime. Our team is very approachable and here to help!
AP: What’s the best part about your job?
JF: Interacting with students is the best part because I am able to see them grow throughout their MBA journey. Accompanying the students on their study tours is also a cool part of my job because you I get to know students on a different level.
AP: What study tours have you been on and what were some highlights from those trips?
JF: I’ve been on the China and Europe study tours. Both were excellent! In China, it was surreal to stand on the Great Wall and visit Tiananmen Square. In Europe, I was amazed by the rich history in Germany and enjoyed visiting important sites such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall.
AP: Why should students consider taking part in a study tour?
JF: It’s a great way to see a country you might not have typically gone to. The tours incorporate fascinating company visits and tourist elements so you get the best of both worlds. Students also have the opportunity to bond with their classmates on these unforgettable trips.
AP: Does the MBA program offer any other international opportunities?
JF: Yes. Students are encouraged to take part in an exchange abroad with one of our partner institutions. We have dual degree programs, semester exchanges, year-long exchanges and 3-6 week summer courses abroad.
AP: What advice would you give to prospective MBA students?
JF: Don’t worry so much about grades. Engage in as many of the activities offered as you can. The relationships you make will last forever. However, be mindful that you can’t do everything so pick and choose what interests you most.
AP: What should students think about before declaring a specialization?
JF: Students should think about what they want to get out of their MBA experience first. They do not have to choose a specialization; in fact, more than half of our MBA students choose not to specialize. I recommend looking at the specialization outlines and course descriptions on our website first before making a decision.
AP: And the best question of all…what do you eat for breakfast?
JF: When I’m in a hurry, I have a breakfast bar. What I like to eat when I have more time is eggs or a breakfast sandwich. I even have a breakfast sandwich maker at home!
Interview conducted by Ashton Paulitsch