A stated goal of the Student Advisory Board this academic year is to engage their fellow College of Business students in all the development opportunities the university and business school make available to them.
Mission accomplished, thanks in part to Abigayle Berendsen and Grace Hickman, the Student Advisory Board chairs for marketing and management, respectively.
The pair executed on an idea they conceived to connect fellow students with four regional businesses on a recent visit to Greenville. The day-long event exposed the students to businesses and career opportunities many did not know existed.
“As board members, Grace and I felt we could play a more active role in exposing business students to career opportunities, so we decided to put our names on one by creating this event visiting Upstate businesses,” Abigayle said.
The two worked with Michele Cauley, professor of practice in marketing, to identify businesses and key contacts in Greenville, all with Clemson ties, that would be willing to open their doors to the students.
“Abigayle and Grace are remarkable ambassadors for the College of Business who saw value in creating personal development and networking opportunities for their fellow students,” Cauley said. “The upstate industry field trip was successful because of their leadership and vision and because of the generosity of the individuals who took time to share their business and career experience with the students.”
The Student Advisory Board is comprised of 16 members and serves in large part as a sounding board for student concerns. It works with the dean and faculty to improve College of Business students’ learning, and to enhance their experience.
The group of primarily management and marketing students visited JMI Sports, a sports marketing firm; Endeavor, a Joe Erwin venture that provides work space for start-up companies; Oobe Apparel Design Group; Experience Clemson and the Clemson MBA program.
Grace said the concept of a career field trip aligned well with the Student Advisory Board’s overall direction this year in making students aware of all the events and resources available to them.
“These organizations are smaller than many of those that recruit on campus, but they have personalities and cultures that care about their people,” said Grace, who in May will become a fifth-generation graduate in her family. “There are many businesses like these in the upstate that are well established and provide great career opportunities, but they aren’t that familiar to students, including me and I grew up in this area.”
Abigayle and Grace said conceiving of and executing on the idea of a career field trip provided learning opportunities for them also.
“When I was contacting companies that we wanted to visit, it was a very new kind of outreach experience for me,” Abigayle said. “I don’t normally have that kind of interaction with a business and it gave me a sense of confidence of being able to interact with companies at a business-world level also.”
Added Grace: “The experience was definitely a development opportunity for me. In creating an event that benefited students and reflected well on the College of Business, it pushed us outside of our comfort zones. We ended up learning in the process of helping others learn.”
Grace and Abigayle, who graduated in December and is now working for E. & J. Gallo Winery, said they expect the field trip will be expanded to include visits to other upstate businesses, but also to cities like Atlanta and Charlotte.
“We surveyed the students who participated this year and there is an interest to do something similar on trips to Charlotte or Atlanta,” Abigayle said. “We see an opportunity to also grow this beyond marketing and management students, with advisory board chairs in the other disciplines taking the lead on those visits.”
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