By Cheryl Toomey, University Relations Graduate Assistant
The new College of Business Student Success Center is established on three key components: academic advisement, career services, and professional development.
“We want this to be a cornerstone of the College of Business, a place for students to come get advice and counseling, a place where students know where to go for help,” says Sue Culpepper, Director of the College of Business Student Success Center. “We have a great academic school, but we want to make sure we’re enriching that. There was previously no one place to go to seek advice in the College of Business. The Student Success Center will support the academically prepared, business world ready mantra we endorse.”
The College of Business (COB) Student Success Center will centralize services that the College of Business was already offering, while also incorporating new services.
“We’re going to be creating an opportunity posting center, where we collect employment and internship opportunities and filter those out to the appropriate people. So it’s not a seek and you shall find situation anymore; we will be identifying and notifying appropriate students,” explains Irene Hillman, College of Business Career Services Manager. “We are also creating boutique career fairs, which are career fairs that are major specific instead of University wide. There’s a lot more specificity and coordination, so this is becomes more of a first interview with the right students.”
The COB Student Success Center also hopes to offer webinars on frequently discussed topics, as well as workshops on necessary business world skills, such as networking.
“We really want to create the bridge between their academic experience and their professional experience,” says Hillman.
Advisement in the new COB Student Success Center will focus on more personal, in depth advisement that takes into consideration students’ strengths and goals.
“The people working in the COB Student Success Center will really get the opportunity to get to know the students, because not only is there the Advisement side, but the Career Services side as well, so it’s sort of a one stop shop,” says Katrina Craven, College of Business Marketing and Communications Director. “They will get to know students from the beginning and know not only what they’ve done academically but where they need to go from where they are, if they need an internship, or a particular skill, or something else to succeed.”
Advisement in the new COB Student Success Center will go beyond helping students chose appropriate classes.
“We want to advise them in more ways than just plugging classes into slots and making sure they have their credits done,” says Culpepper, “We also want to help them think about their goals and help them with things they need to consider throughout their college career in order to be successful.”
A new curriculum is being incorporated for business majors through the COB Student Success Center. In their freshman year, advisers will focus on helping a student discover themselves and their strengths, aptitudes, and interests and pointing them in the right direction in the College of Business.
“We’re looking for ways to engage them in their major earlier in their time at UTC. Having a defined curriculum should help students graduate better prepared for the business world,” says Culpepper.
The second year focuses on giving students a real world introduction to business. Students’ third year will involve resume building and cultivating interview skills. The fourth year is dedicated to having internships and finding employment.
“In the future, I hope to have a very strong employment rate and internship conversion rate,” says Hillman.
Culpepper says that the College of Business is considering requiring internships in the future, once the infrastructure for acquiring them is in place. Culpepper and Hillman have been engaging in employer outreach, working with local businesses to make sure they know what internships should be.
“They’re not file clerks, they’re not unpaid workers. This is important, business world experience for students, and we want to make sure employers are helping them to become business ready,” says Culpepper.
“What we’re finding is pretty incredible; every position we’ve advertised has been filled with a College of Business student,” says Hillman. “One of our accounting students recently got a full time position at Miller & Martin. They put it out publicly as requiring one to three years of experience. Our student had no experience, but because of the collaboration between UTC College of Business and Miller & Martin, she got the position,” says Hillman.
Professional development will feature much more prominently in the new COB Student Success Center.
“What we’ve found is that retention increases pretty significantly when you tie professional development into a student’s experience here at UTC,” says Hillman.
The COB Student Success Center will also help promote the College of Business Living Learning Communities (LLCs). In the LLC, thirty-two students share dorm rooms, a common area, and a one hour per week class. Students visit local businesses, such as Unum, and do programming together.
“We have gotten great feedback. They really enjoy it. They want to do it all four years, but it’s only for freshmen. We have 55 students interested in this coming fall. It’s going to be a great success that the COB Student Success Center will be involved in,” says Culpepper.
Culpepper and Dr. Michael Jones, Associate Dean of the College of Business, toured other universities with similar programs, some with over twenty five years of experience.
“That’s the way a lot of business colleges are enabling their students to be successful. We wanted to look at some of these programs to see what works and what doesn’t work,” says Culpepper.
The COB Student Success Center is offering many of these services already, with more still in the planning phases.
“Jobs are very competitive, so it’s our responsibility to prepare our students for the business world, in all ways, not just in academics, but professionally too. That’s the real focus of the COB Student Success Center. We’re going to try to make sure all the College of Business students have every opportunity for success,” says Culpepper.