For some students in the Tennessee Tech University College of Business, that dream job offer comes not after classes end, but months before the end of the semester.
“I never thought I would be working for the biggest confectionary company in the world,” said international business and cultures major Kellie Wesley, who will be a retail sales representative in Jackson, Tenn., for the Hershey Company after she graduates this month. “I always wanted to work for an international company, but I didn’t expect that it would be my first job.”
“It’s not just that I love chocolate. I fell in love with the company.”
In addition to strong academics in the College of Business, every year its Student to Career program offers hundreds of students opportunities to network with company executives and other professionals, to go to job fairs, and to learn correct dining etiquette. The program also oversees the Business Ambassadors club, whose members volunteer to assist with campus events including guest lectures, board of trustees meetings and formal dinners.
The university’s Office of Career Services gives all university students the chance to learn to write a resume, to succeed in an interview, and to find a job or internship through career fairs.
Ines Pojani, a senior marketing major, took advantage of both programs and used the skills she developed to land a job in the product marketing development department with Schneider Electric in Alpharetta, Ga.
The company originally approached Pojani, who took three years off from her education to serve with the National Guard, for a job in Nashville. When that job fell through, the recruiter was so impressed by Pojani that she found a job in Georgia for her.
“After my deployment (to Iraq), I got involved with the Business Ambassadors, where my professional development really began,” said Pojani, who emigrated from Albania with her family in 1999 to escape the region’s wars. “I was very brash when I came in. I wasn’t bad, I just didn’t have a filter. Having Amy Jo Carpenter and Julie Galloway (of the college’s Student Success Center) as mentors, you really learn how to present yourself.”
Self-presentation helped to land 2012 finance graduate Lamar Moore a paid summer internship at First Tennessee Bank’s corporate office in Nashville. After applying for the internship online, the Nashville native ended up sitting next to Davis Watts, the bank’s senior vice president and a member of the College of Business Board of Trustees, and Nelson Forrester, its Cookeville branch president, at the college’s annual etiquette dinner. There, they told him they would put in a good word with his interviewer.
“When I first came, I was a good student grade-wise, but I didn’t go to any events until junior year, when I realized I needed to be more of a business professional,” said Moore, who plays football at TTU. “I have the credentials but when someone refers you, it helps.”
Moore is working on his master’s in business administration at TTU.
Students are not required to report what they plan to do after graduation, but these three are among those who have shared their stories on a bulletin board outside the Student to Career offices. Other posts tell of about 10 interviews secured, several jobs and one business start-up.
“The College of Business pushes you to be better. I’ve always had that drive, but it’s nice to have their support,” said Wesley, of Murfreesboro. “I feel prepared for my job, not only because of my academic classes, but also because of the guidance of the faculty and my mentors.”