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Multicultural Business Network: Preparing students for professional opportunities

Members of the Multicultural Business Club work together to complete their task at Thursday night’s showdown. The objective of this task is to stack the cups using only a string and a rubber band. This event was the Student Organization Showdown held in the Campanile Room of Memorial Union on Thursday night.

Multicultural Business Network (MBN) at Iowa State aims to connect multicultural students and all students, and is not limited to any one group or one major.

“Our mission is to provide opportunities for multicultural students in the university to grow as human beings and students as well,” Isaac Ume, vice president of MBN and a sophomore in management information systems, said.

Club president William Leiva-Mercado said the club aims to expose, prepare and inform multicultural students about any professional opportunities or internal school opportunities.

“We get a lot of offers from around the school to volunteer, whether it be with Sloss House or helping out give supplies in Ivy College of Business,” Leiva-Mercado, a sophomore in management information systems, said. “But more on the company side is when companies reach out to me, and they said that they need to really diversify or spread their message of diversity, equity and inclusion at the company, so they set up meetings and provide dinner to all the students.”

Leiva-Mercado said MBN also works closely with the College of Business’ Multicultural Department.

“We host college-wide study nights, that’s completely funded by the Dean David Spalding himself. He works directly with the club, so we can have an MBN and Dean Spalding event,” Leiva-Mercado said.

Leiva-Mercado said study nights are open to the entire university.

MBN recently got to take a group of about 22 students to the Principal Financial Group, headquarters in downtown Des Moines.

“It is a field trip about 40 minutes away, and we got to talk with an executive panel with CFOs, CIOs and TAOs of Fortune 250 companies, which is pretty epic,” Leiva-Mercado said. “The Principal is a big sponsor of MBN, so it was the first time they let us take a field trip over there. I think that really shows how close the connection can be with MDN and some companies.”

Leiva-Mercado said most of these companies, after the meetings, students get interviews, they get to move forward, and connect with employers on LinkedIn.

Leiva-Mercado said a member of MBN received an internship with Best Buy after going on a field trip to the Best Buy headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Some value that we bring to our members is that we try to provide that multicultural community where you can network,” Leiva-Mercado said. “We have mentorship among the club, where you can pair up with an older multicultural business network member if you kind of one of your earlier business classes, there’s a little bit of a mentorship where you’re able to reach out, and then we’ll get you to one of our older MBN members.”

Leiva-Mercado also said MBN provides free dinner at every weekly meeting, whether company sponsored or not.

“We know how important it might be to get that free dinner, especially as a college student who’s paying tuition fees, with legislation changing for multicultural students and some scholarships being taken away,” Leiva-Mercado said. “If we can provide a free dinner for our members, we’re happy to just do that.”

Leiva-Mercado said during MBN study nights, the club also provides supplies and study guides

“We give out not only just to MBN members, but to the entire college notebooks, pencils, pens and sharpies, any type of school supplies they might need,” Leiva-Mercado said.

Ume added that MBN’s last event of the semester is a study night from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Kingland Hub in Gerdin Business Building.

“Students can come stay for two hours and win prizes at the end, and it is open to the whole college,” Ume said.

Club officials said a big project they are working on is to take a trip to Minneapolis and incorporate a scholarship with a company.

“A company has offered to sponsor scholarships for MBN members, if current MBN members stick around for a while and interact with the company, they can be qualified for a scholarship,” Leiva-Mercado said.

Leiva-Mercado added that every now and then, MBN will take a break from connecting with companies.

“We’ll do kind of a multicultural social event with authentic food from different places around the world,” Leiva-Mercado said. “We try to do foreign food for social events, for example, we have a taco Hispanic night for one of our first events, stuff like that, so you get away from the company meetings.”

Leiva-Mercado said he would like to share that the idea of MBN should not be limited to the College of Business.

“I think almost every college incorporates abroad, centralized multicultural club that’s supported by the colleges themselves, and Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and the entire school, ISU themselves,” Leiva-Mercado said. “I can’t foster enough from how many outside majors that aren’t business majors come to the club and be like, ‘Oh, I wish College of Engineering had something like this.’ Because not really other clubs take it seriously, business networking is the major part of business but networking is also a part of almost every career path you may do, so I want to say the importance of that to everyone.”

Club officials said 2024 has been the biggest year for MBN since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We took a really big hit because of COVID-19, and we were down to within the 20 plus members. As of right now, we’re in the 60 plus,” Leiva-Mercado said.

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