During their time in the Black School of Business, students are routinely encouraged to engage with industry professionals, interact with alumni, and experience first-hand the professional environments they will be working in.
They have various opportunities to accomplish these initiatives individually, but the school’s annual spring business trip is a “three-fer,” allowing students to achieve all these career-enhancing experiences in a single whirlwind visit to a major metropolitan city.
“The trip is very beneficial for students,” said Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance and team leader of the spring business trip. “It allows them to explore career options, get a taste of what it would be like to live in a big city, and network with alumni and business leaders.”
This year, forty students visited Charlotte, North Carolina, where they toured and met with high-level executives at several businesses, including Duke Energy, Ingersoll Rand, Ernst & Young, The Agency Marketing Group, Bank of America, and MetLife.
The Student Government Association provides some funding for the trip, which reduces the cost of the trip for students to just over $250, a nominal amount for a three-day stay in a large city, and a bargain considering the wealth of experience they gain and contacts they make there.
A highlight of the trip each year is an alumni gathering in the destination city. “We invite Penn State Behrend alumni in the area to join us for dinner and conversation,” Robbins said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to engage with alumni, make valuable connections, and get advice and insight from graduates.”
These networking opportunities can open doors for students.
“After reaching out to an alum I met at the dinner in Chicago, she spoke with her HR manager who guaranteed me a phone interview for a full-time position at the company she worked for,” said Cory Phillips, a senior Finance major. “Without that personal connection made through the business trip, this simply would not have been a possibility.”
Past spring business trip destinations have included New York City, Chicago, and Boston.
The spring trip is not the only opportunity Black School of Business students have to travel and network with business professionals and alumni. Students can also participate in global internships, sign up for study-abroad experiences, present research at industry conferences, and compete in national competitions, such as the CFA Institute Research Challenge.
“We’ve learned that the impact these kinds of experiences have on students is profound and lasts a lifetime,” Robbins said.
Nicole Overby, a sophomore Accounting major who attended the Charlotte trip, agreed: “It was an unforgettable experience,” Overby said. “I’m so excited for my future after seeing all the different career paths and opportunities available to me.”