On Wednesday October 4th, from 5:30-7:30 pm, UC Clermont held its Business, Law, and Technology (BLT) event. The department has eleven different degrees that students can earn; these range from Information Technologies to Pre Sport Administration. BLT is one of five departments that organize the degrees at UC Clermont, and is one of the most popular on campus.
Before the event officially started, there was a panel of former students who were involved with PACE (Professionalism, Academics, Character, and Experience). They were talking to current students, most of whom are in the BLT program. Maggie Cowens was one of the panelists, and she was the student that founded PACE. She was also its first president. Cowens explained that Professor Jay Page “asked me to stay after class one day because he had something in mind. That something turned out to be PACE.”
For many of the panelists, the standout event during their time here was when PACE traveled to Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia to meet and network with the heads and executives of large corporations as well as smaller, startup businesses. In Atlanta, the students were able to meet with heads of Delta, Chick Fil A, and many other large companies.” When asked why he wanted to take a trip to the other side of the country, in Oregon, Cowens explained that Page “wanted us to see how different businesses worked in different parts of the country.” Cowens also discussed how she was considering a position at a business in Portland because of the networking she had done while she had been with PACE.
There are other, more local events that PACE holds. They usually involve meeting with members and leaders of businesses in downtown Cincinnati. They have visited Kroger, Procter and Gamble, Tom and Chi, The Cincinnati Reds, and many more in their previous trips. Even though the students worked with these large businesses, most of the PACE panelists mentioned how they specifically enjoyed how the smaller startups functioned.
PACE’s self-proclaimed mantra is “Bring textbooks to life.” The members all have a common belief that not everything can be taught in a classroom. One of the panelists, Matt Beighle, said that without PACE, he would not have the tools to do what he does today as a teacher and athletic director at Milford Christian Academy. Even though he did not go into a business field per se, he credits PACE with giving him the skills in networking and public speaking.
Many of the members also discussed how important it is to stand out when it comes to applying for jobs. Brandon, a panelist and former member, said that in regards to what the organization can do for an individual in a “real-world” situation, “PACE basically [helps to]separate you from everyone else.” A couple of the panelists said that they did not need to provide resumes, and in some cases didn’t need to interview for jobs, because the employer was aware that they were members of PACE.
A member of the audience then asked the panel if their participation in PACE was worth their time; this audience member was playing baseball in the second semester and would have to miss several games if he were to take part in the trip to Atlanta. The panel unanimously responded by saying that it was completely up to him, but he had to think about which was going to take him further: an exclusive chance to network with some of the most well-respected business people in the world—or, the opportunity to play a few baseball games in college. They made it a fairly easy choice for him.
After the PACE discussion, but before the first panel of former BLT students spoke, there were a variety of refreshments and snacks available for all to enjoy. During this break, Dean Bauer took a moment to speak to both faculty members and students. He said that before he was the Dean, he served as a professor of management and marketing in the BLT department. He mentioned that he may even be teaching a course in the spring semester. It should also be noted that Rob Rude and Monica Royal-Fisher were also in attendance, and helped to organize this event. Professor Rude is taking students downtown to meet with the heads of businesses during the Fall Reading Days, which fall on the 9th and 10th of October.
The next panel to speak was comprised of former students who had graduated from the BLT program at UC Clermont. When asked what advice they would give to current students, Casey, a panelist, emphasized the fact that excellent communication is one of the most important “soft skills” to have. She highlighted this point by using professors as an example: “Professors are full of knowledge and information; it is their job to provide you with help. It is your duty to pursue it and get it from them.”
Economics Professor Rude then asked the panel, “How do you balance school with extracurricular activities?” Rachel Hamilton, a former member of the BLT program, said that time management was one of the most difficult transitions from high school to college. She said, “I prioritized work and school over a social life; school was the most important entity that I was a part of.” She had moved to Clermont two years after leaving the University of Kentucky, so she didn’t have as big of a social group. Thus, she was able to focus more on studying.
The question that was discussed most in this panel was the following: “What was the most important soft skill you learned at Clermont?” A popular answer from the panel had to do with students “learning how to say ‘no.’” One of the members of the panel discussed how she was a leader at PACE, worked two part-time jobs, and went to school full-time. She said that without learning how to say “no,” she would not have been able to handle the stresses that college was already putting on her. Another common answer to the question concerned the importance of making a schedule and following it closely. The panel explained how they would sometimes feel lost without having a schedule that listed what they were doing every day.
Another question that sparked an interesting response from the panel was, “If you could, what would you do differently?” The general response from all of the members could be summed up in two words, “Do more.” One of the panelists thought that students should ask more questions inside and outside of the classroom. Another said that she would have attended more career events on campus, because the ones that she did attend helped her in the field she is in currently. Another answer was: Get into student organizations sooner. This response came from one of the original leaders of PACE. She said that she started in student organizations her second year on campus, and that it greatly benefitted her. “It has helped me so much. I can only imagine if I was involved that much the entirety of my college career.” All of the panelists wished they could have done more.
One of the problems that many college students face is motivation. School is only a small portion of an individual’s life, yet it has such a significant impact; however, the results are not often not immediately recognizable. The panel was asked, “What do you recommend for struggling college students?” One of the best responses from the panel was, “Remind yourself why you are here and why you are doing this; you have a goal and you’re chasing it down.”
During the transition from the first BLT alumni panel to the second, Jeff Rubel, a Paralegal Studies professor, spoke briefly about the opportunity afforded by studying abroad, in Mexico. He is taking a group of students to a part of Mexico that is heavily influenced by the Mayan culture. The trip is during spring break and counts as an extra class (which counts as an eighteenth credit hour) and is free of charge. The trip itself costs roughly $1,550, but most expenses such as airfare, house, and some meals are paid.
During the next session, one of the most impactful questions asked concerned the transition from being in college to working full-time. Ruth, a panelist who completed the majority of her courses online, said that “it [college]is the real world. The industry could be the rest of your life; you do not want to make a mistake.” Another response was that they couldn’t rely on other people; they had to think for themselves. Kevin Hamilton, a BLT alumnus, stated that “if you do not agree with a company’s values and ethics, then you do not have to stay there; the company is going to last longer than you are going to last at the company.”
Throughout the entire event, the importance of networking and being involved was continuously emphasized. Professor Rude, who has started several companies and has taught for many years, said that networking is where jobs come from. He said, “When there is a job opening for a high position, a company may get hundreds to thousands of resumes and applications—but if you have talked to and befriended an employee at that organization, you have a much greater chance of being hired.”
UC Clermont would like to thank all the participants of this event—those who helped organize this and made it possible, as well as those generously gave of their time to make this discussion a meaningful one for all involved.