B-school keeps business hours

The 9-to-5 workday is one of the enshrined traditions of the business world. Nearly everyone who goes into business has to reckon with that timeframe. For many, the eight-hour day is a marker of landing your first “real” job, but MA in Management students at Wake Forest University Schools of Business will be getting a taste of 9-to-5 ahead of schedule.

Beginning next year, students pursuing an MA in Management will be required to be on campus and dressed in business casual attire from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., whether that means they’re in class, studying, doing group work or participating in a campus activity. This expands on the current policy for MA students, which stipulates business casual dress when attending class, and is part of an ongoing effort to prepare students for the expectations of the business world.

“We’re taking this to the next level,” says Matthew Merrick, senior associate dean of students at the Schools of Business. “We want [students] to get into the mindset of, ‘I get up in the morning, I’m going to dress in professional attire and I’m going to be in the office—which is school—from 9 to 5.’”

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The requirement is intended to provide a safe transition from the very different norms that sometimes govern undergraduate education: the hoodie and the all-nighter.

“There are different norms in the business environment,” says program manager Hansford Johnson. “A lot of what we do is help train and develop (students’) understanding of the culture and environment of these companies.”

The current MA students have already had a chance to get used to going to class in business casual dress, and many of them speak fondly of it.

“We are here at Wake to get ready for the professional world,” says student Peter Geissinger. “I think wearing business casual every day gets us comfortable doing work and thinking while wearing nice clothes.”

In fact, introducing a dress code has proven to facilitate academic excellence rather than hinder it. “Students seem to be more attentive and work better when they are dressed nicely,” says Geissinger.

The existing business casual requirement allows students to cultivate the kind of professional demeanor that stands to impress recruiters and employers. “The MA program boasts a very professional atmosphere, and that all begins with the dress code,” says Ward Minton, also a student. “It helped me treat graduate business school like a full-time job, which will definitely make the transition to the workforce easier.”

When the 9-to-5 standard goes into effect this fall, it will be more than a dress rehearsal for the working world. Ensuring that all MA students are available for the same eight hours greatly simplifies events scheduling. “A lot of time is wasted around scheduling group meetings,” Geissinger reflects. “Knowing that everyone on your team is at school from 9 to 5 will make that process a lot easier.”

What’s more, students may even find that the consolidation of their labors into an eight-hour window stands to free up that rarest of commodities — a little bit of free time.

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