The Advancing Career and Education (ACE) program at the Stuart School of Business in Chicago is a unique, innovative part of the graduate curriculum designed to prepare students for professional internships and careers after graduation.
In today’s competitive job market, rigorous academic preparation is not enough. To succeed, students also need “soft skills,” including communication and interpersonal skills, relationship-building, and networking. Stuart’s ACE program helps students develop these soft skills through early exposure to real-world professional environments.
ACE is designed for first-year graduate students with little or no U.S. work experience, and focuses on building professionalism and providing opportunities to participate in business culture early in the student’s graduate studies. These experiences give students a competitive edge in applying for internships and jobs.
More than 100 Chicago-area organizations partner with Stuart each year to provide real workplace assignments for Stuart students. Students complete 70 project hours during a semester, combined with a classroom component that reinforces key professional and communication skills.
Some recent ACE assignments
- PNC Bank: a team of Stuart students worked on marketing initiatives targeted at specific Chicago neighborhoods
- Environmental Design International: Stuart students assisted in the accounting and environmental department and another student helped with data modeling assignments
- American Medical Association: students helped the AMA enhance its web presence by developing profiles and sharing information through social media
The ACE program is a degree requirement for all Stuart’s Masters-level programs. Participation in ACE does not earn academic credit, but successful completion is required for graduation and will appear on student transcripts. ACE is optional for students with six months of business-related U.S. work experience.
Chen Zhang, MMF '10, on how Stuart's ACE program prepared her to join Goldman Sachs as a Financial Risk Technology Analyst after graduation:
My advice to students is to take full use of the ACE Program. The ACE program taught me how to write an American-style resume and cover letter, and also taught me the importance of soft-skills and professional behavior. As an international student, I think it's very important to get used to American working culture.
Curt Allee, Director, Educational and Professional Development
Curt Allee is Adjunct Instructor at the Stuart School of Business, where he also serves as the Director, Educational and Professional Development. At Stuart, he teaches courses in the ACE Program, an innovative workplace readiness and immersion program designed to assist students with limited U.S.-based work experience to become more competitive for internships and jobs in the United States.