Fran Jazzan: Building her Network and Launching a Startup

At SPS, Fran Jazzan ('14SPS, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution):

• Gained strategic negotiation and problem-solving acumen

• Built a network of peers, faculty, and alumni

• Gained support and collaborators to launch her successful education advising practice

Tell me about the business you started.

I have an education startup, Luma Advisory. I started the company to provide tailored admissions, education, and career counseling to international students who are coming to the United States. We also work with universities as consultants for their international recruitment efforts. Luma has evolved to incorporate specialized professional workshops. Launching a startup has been a very rewarding experience; I get to help students, have a direct social impact, and be creative in generating original content for our workshops.

How has Columbia been a resource for you as you’ve launched your business?

The Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program is aware I’ve just started a business and constantly connects me with current students and alumni who can help.

The network is powerful. For example, when I started Luma, I called up a friend from the program. She’s currently the Dean of Admissions at Penn State University. Initially, I just wanted to run some ideas by her. From our conversation, I learned that universities also have a need to hire outside advisors to assist them with recruitment. Since then, Luma is working with a number of universities in developing their admissions strategies for international students.

Another example: I wanted to put together a workshop for my clients. The first person I called was the former assistant director of the program Connie Sun. Connie suggested that I work with some peers from my program, and since then, Luma has a special division focused on specialized educational workshops in which my classmates and I are leading the activities.

Why did you choose the program at Columbia SPS over other options?        

It offers interaction and collaboration across programs and disciplines. My classmates and I took classes in law, business, and economics.

How do the skills from the program relate to your work?

All the skills I learned in the program are tangible. When I started getting interviews at the big four consulting agencies, I was able to pass the case studies they threw at me easily because I did so many in the program.

In my business, I’ve found that many young people in the 21st century don’t know what they want to do. They may have lots of information but don’t know what to do with it. As an advisor, I'm able to help them find patterns, introduce them to various professions, market trends, and connect them to professionals in their field of interest. We also work with students from low- income immigrant families pro bono, and assist them in finding grants and scholarships and finalizing their applications.

For example, I was working with a student who is the son of first-generation Turkish immigrants. His parents wanted him to work for their uncle's business after he graduated from high school. And this kid had a nearly perfect SAT score in math. So we all ran through calculations together: how much he would make at his uncle’s business and how much would he make as an engineer, a programmer, or a data scientist? He got admitted to UPenn and we helped him get the grants and scholarships he needed to pay for his college degree plus stipend money.

I love what I do, because I see the the impact we have is so immediate.

Learn more about the M.S. in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.