Members of the University of Tennessee’s National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) student chapter and the National Black MBA Association recently went on a week-long professional development trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty-one, high-achieving students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration participated. The students, from first-year to graduate-level, had an interest in a business-related discipline, such as accounting, marketing, finance, and information management. The purpose of the trip was to give them first-hand exposure on how companies operated and have them envision potential career paths within those industries.
“A professional development trip, such as the one to Charlotte, benefits students in several ways,” said Randy Bradley, NABA co-advisor and assistant professor in UT’s Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management. “First, it gives the students a greater appreciation for the concepts they learn in class because they have the opportunity to see how those concepts are being leveraged in industry. Second, such a trip can lead to better scholastic achievement since students, especially freshmen and sophomores, can better visualize the careers they are working toward. They no longer have the mindset of ‘I’m taking classes for the sake of taking classes.’ Students experience a paradigm shift toward viewing their coursework as an opportunity for career preparation.”
Students met with executives from Bank of America, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dixon Hughes Goodman, DukeNet Communications, OfficeMax, and the Charlotte Bobcats NBA team. Executives spoke to the students about their businesses operations, focusing on the areas of accounting, finance, and diversity and inclusiveness. One of the highlights of the trip was the time spent talking with Jerry Richardson, the majority owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. His key takeaways for the students were to never give up and never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something; you need to believe in yourself. The students also enjoyed an evening with the NABA Professional Chapter of Charlotte.
“I really enjoyed meeting with the NABA Professional Chapter of Charlotte,” said Courtney Jennings, a May 2012 graduate in economics. “It gave me the opportunity to network in a relaxed environment. This program was a great way to see the opportunities that are available in the ‘real world’.”
“All of the executives we met with were extremely courteous and really interested in the students’ success,” said Tyvi Small, coordinator of diversity initiatives for the College of Business Administration. “They helped the students better understand the educational career paths often taken by executives and how to prepare for jobs in business. They also exposed our students to internship and full-time job opportunities.”