Smith Graduate Diploma in Business Q&A
Interested in business, but not quite ready to plunge into an MBA? We sat down with Anne Fergusson, a sitting volleyball athlete member of the Canadian National Team, who completed her Graduate Diploma in Business at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in the fall 2017.
What is the Queen’s Graduate Diploma in Business?
The Queen’s Graduate Diploma in Business is a four month comprehensive overview of business fundamentals beginning each year in May. The curriculum includes eight courses which all represent credit toward a Queen’s MBA degree in the future.
What attracted you to the GDB program?
I did my degree in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s while I was on the national sitting volleyball team. I heard of the program while I was doing my undergrad through Game Plan and I thought it was a great opportunity to be part of a business program.
How did the class schedule work with your training schedule?
The four month length of the program was great for my athlete schedule. It worked out well because even though I was in the middle of training, I was able to go back and forth between Kingston and Edmonton throughout the program. I had to miss a few days of class, about one a month, but it all worked out because I stayed in contact with my GDB team, and the professors understood my involvement with sport. They were really supportive.
Why did you choose to pursue a GDB program over another certificate?
I thought it was a great continuity to my engineering studies. I also liked the idea of gaining knowledge in business because it’s broad and versatile. Through the program, I’ve learned a ton of different skills that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, and that I am sure will be useful when the time comes for me to transition to the workforce.
How was the application process?
Really smooth! Smith has a team of advisors, and they were amazing to guide me through all the steps to apply. They answered all the questions I had about the program and were helpful getting content into the application package.
What was the first week of school like?
My first week was a little different than everyone else’s because I missed the official orientation. When I arrived, the team was welcoming, and everyone was happy to meet and get to know each other. They really were great at making me feel a part of the team from the start. Our coach (University coach) was good at helping us get involved and I really loved the overall environment.
What were some aspects of the program that surprised you?
The inter-connectedness of the courses. They were varied, but when you learn a new concept, you would see it come up two months later in another class. The strategy courses we had at the end of the four months were great to bring everything together. Aside from that, the team and community aspect of the program was unique. I think the professors’ strength was to condense information in a short amount of time and make it understandable.
How would you describe the other students enrolled in the program?
From the start, Smith said we were diverse because we all came from different backgrounds. Everyone was driven and engaged with the courses – you could tell they wanted to get involved and work hard; it was inspiring to be surrounded by this group of driven students.
How does completing this program further develop your career?
This program opened my eyes to work opportunities beyond engineering. Right now, I am still in job search mode. I am looking in the field of consulting and business in general. Their career centre was open all summer, and I took advantage of meeting with counsellors to plan it out.
How was Game Plan able to support you in pursuing the GDB certificate?
Game Plan’s partnership with Smith School of Business at Queen’s University made my GDB certificate possible. They were there for the financial support and to help with the process of getting into the program. It was an outstanding experience to be a part of the program as a Game Plan athlete because everyone at the school knew and understood that we had other commitments with our sport.
What advice would you have for other athletes who might want to participate in a similar program?
This is an atmosphere that you will love. Just like in sport, you are working with a team in an intense environment, but everyone puts in the work and energy every day. I highly encourage you to reach out to me, the application advisors or your Game Plan advisor to see if it would be a good fit for you!
Anne Fergusson, Sitting Volleyball National Team