During the spring semester, groups of diverse students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business participated in professional development trips to locations including Kingsport and Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio.
The trips, hosted by the college’s Office of Diversity and Community Relations, were designed to help students polish their professional networking skills and gain behind-the-scenes insight into the operations of businesses. The 32 students who visited Cincinnati underwent a competitive selection process and visited U.S. Bank, the Cincinnati Reds, Cintas, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and Procter & Gamble.
Mijé Gist, a rising junior majoring in marketing and international business, participated in the trip to Ohio and discovered she wants to expand her professional network beyond Knoxville.
“I realized that, through Haslam, I have access to some of the best resources for building a network,” Gist said. “The trip definitely pushed me to be more open and optimistic about reaching out to companies. Even though we were visitors, these companies made us feel like a part of their team, and I was encouraged to see UT alumni working at several of them.”
Noah Dandridge, a rising sophomore and business administration exploratory student, also said that practicing networking helped him envision his future career.
“Visiting these companies in Cincinnati helped me step out of my comfort zone because it was a different environment,” Dandridge said. “I really enjoyed talking to the various companies to see what they had to offer, as well as to get a picture of career progression in their field of work and with their core values.”
Janice Branch Hall, coordinator of academic support and engagement at Haslam, said students also benefited from trips closer to home.
“Regardless of location, these networking trips are always a valuable opportunity for our students because they provide an opportunity to see the real-world outcomes of a Haslam education,” Branch Hall said. “This helps students orient themselves early in their education so they can be prepared to attain their goals. Professional development truly adds value to their educations, and so we emphasize the notion of finding one’s vocation early on.”
Fifteen students toured the behind-the-scenes, operational side of Target stores before returning to campus for a leadership workshop facilitated by Target leadership. Another group of 17 students visited the Eastman Chemical plant in Kingsport, where they spoke with Tom Morton, vice president of global supply chain, and Chris Killian, vice president of specialty products technology.