Earlier this year, students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, and visited several companies to learn more about how the businesses run.
Haslam’s Office of Diversity & Community Relations hosted the trip to give students the opportunity to get a ground view of day-to-day business activities and to help them sharpen their professional networking skills. Dixon Hughes Goodman, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. and PepsiCo were among the business offices the 26 students visited. They also took part in an engagement dinner with the National Association of Black Accountants at the Wells Fargo Connection Building and the Alumni Engagement Dinner at Rooster’s South Park.
During the visit to Lowe’s, the students had the chance to meet and speak with Haslam alumnus Don Frieson, who is the executive vice president of supply chain for Lowe's. UT’s Frieson Black Cultural Center is named after Frieson and his brother, Ron. He stressed the importance of leading with integrity, learning what it takes to go from good to great and choosing a company that mirrors one’s values.
For Te’Lor Allen, a freshman majoring in business analytics, the most rewarding part of the trip was being able to network with potential employers and with other students in attendance. She most enjoyed seeing behind the scenes at Lowe’s.
“The most exciting part of the trip was seeing how large Lowe’s headquarters actually was,” Allen said. “I wasn’t expecting such a large and innovative structure that was made to help ease the stress of work for its employees.”
Chelsea Carpenter, a senior in marketing, picked up some professional pointers on the trip. For example, she learned when evaluating potential employers to take into consideration how supportive future managers and coworkers appear to be in the new-hire process.
“It was fun to talk to the professionals and get a peek into their daily lives and see how much they love and value their work,” she said.
The experiential nature of the business visits made the trip worthwhile to Sam McFarland, a freshman majoring in business analytics.
“Most students go to class and hear about how a company works and what they are looking for in potential employees,” he said. “We went out and saw these employers and so much more for ourselves. I would recommend the professional business trip to anyone who wants to learn what major companies are looking for and how they operate. “
The Office of Diversity & Community Relations focuses on helping Haslam recruit and retain diverse students pursuing business degrees. It also aims to assist current students in developing necessary interpersonal skills to build professional networks that will be useful when they enter the job market. One of the ways the office does this is through professional development trips, which are undertaken once each semester.