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A resume with a UTC degree will open doors when students graduate, but it never hurts to have something extra.
For students in the Department of Political Science and Public Service, that “extra” is made possible by a $50,000 donation from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local # 175.
For the next five years, the IBEW will give $10,000 a year to the department, which will use it to offer “badges” to students, four-hour workshops that will focus on a variety of topics, including targeting voters, policy advocacy and lobbying, organizing communities and campaign management.
In front of a group of about 30 political science students on Wednesday, Oct. 17, Michelle Deardorff, head of the Department of Political Science and Public Service, said the badges will give students a leg up in the real world. By earning a badge, students will learn skills and insights they can use after graduation, either during a job search or after they find employment.
“How do we equip you, when you go out in the market, to have that edge that differentiates you from the 100,000 other college student coming out?” she asked.
“It’s a changing economy. It’s changing fast and we don’t know what kind of jobs we’re preparing you for, so we need to give you everything we can that you can adjust quickly and with ease. One way to do that is not just with the academic preparation we’re giving you but also sets of very specific skills.”
The seven workshops, to be taught by UTC alumni and other local experts, begin in 10 days with “Social Media Campaigns/Digital Engagement.” Others already scheduled are “What If I Ran for Public Office” in January and “Managing Political Campaigns: A Review of What Goes into a Winning Campaign” in February.
“You’ll know what you’re looking for; you’ll know what pitfalls to avoid,” Deardorff said.
UTC Chancellor Steve Angle called the IBEW donation “ a great example of philanthropy in action where we have a great idea that needs some support and a donor to help support that cause and make it a reality.”
Gary Watkins, business manager for IBEW #175, said it’s a unique experience for the donors to be able to see the students who will benefit from the donation.
“It’s rare for you all to see,” he told the students, “but it’s rare for us to see from the other side how this is working, who this is working for, who it is helping.”