by Katherine Norris | Oct 25, 2021 | Academics, Careers In..., College Decisions, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Financial Management, Management, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized
Destanie Crist, senior financial management major from Valley Center, CA, hit the ground running when she stepped foot on the campus of ACU. She quickly became involved on campus and is active in leadership roles for multiple student organizations and currently serves as the fund manager for STAR (Student Trading and Research). This past summer, Destanie interned for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in Irvine, CA where she was able to learn about a variety of roles at the organization. “During my internship, I was trained in four rotations under the Commercial Real Estate Bank division. Each week I would hear from a variety of executives and senior managers about their line of business whether it was Treasury Services or Commercial Term Lending. After my training, I was given a specific case study where I had to take everything that I learned and apply it to a presentation, loan decision, and underwriting process. At the end of that week, I had to present the final decision that I made alone or with a team to a group of senior executives. The final two weeks were immersion weeks where I conducted real loans and sat with sales teams. I also had many networking opportunities where I learned from people both inside and outside of the commercial bank and made some really sweet friends.”
The internship experience was valuable for many reasons. Destanie said, “The people I met, connections I made, and friends developed over this summer were by far my favorite part. JPMC and specifically the Irvine office has some of the most incredibly hardworking and driven people I have ever met. The immersion weeks where we worked with real clients and finally got to put all that training to the test was truly fulfilling. I pitched an idea to improve one of the processes in the bank with a few other interns and spent most of my internship working on that idea with a senior executive who I respect and greatly appreciate to bring this project to life!”
With so many great experiences to choose from, we asked Destanie what the greatest lesson she had learned was. “Be yourself, always work hard even when nobody expects you to, and talk to everyone and anyone you can regardless of their title because you can learn from them.” Destanie made it a goal to always put these principles into action. She went the extra mile to help herself stand out from the crowd and encourages future interns to do the same. “Whether it was showing up to work 20 minutes early to make sure all the technology was working for the day, staying late to help with community service projects, organizing meetings with my peers to complete case studies, and setting up Zooms to learn more about different parts of the bank and its people. I was blessed to be able to work closely with analysts and executives who taught me their ways and asked for my feedback or ideas for improvement. It was a huge eye-opener and it allowed me to see how much JPMC cares about each employee and values their ideas or improvement suggestions.”
Internships provide students with opportunities to not only learn about potential future careers but also to reflect on how to improve their skills at graduation. “This experience has shaped a lot of my mentality and approach to jobs or tasks in the future. It opened my eyes to the fact that people who are in more senior roles than you truly care about you and see the potential we hold as the younger generation for the advancement of the future. It also pushed me to understand the greater importance of work-life balance and the emphasis people must place on it to maintain their best selves. I would also say it taught me to not be afraid of speaking up and sharing ideas I have that could potentially help better a process or the firm as a whole. It is a strong foundation that has allowed me to learn a variety of skills and meet incredible people that I can turn to if I ever need help or a suggestion.”
Internships offer students a great foundation for their future careers through exploration, experience, and connections as well as stretching them both personally and professionally. “A lot of growth happened during my internship. I would say professionally I feel more prepared to graduate. Learning the fundamentals in school is crucial; however, after working in this internship over the summer, I would argue to say having experience by working a summer job or internship in the profession you are interested in allows you to see the purpose and gift of college to a greater extent. My faith was challenged and encouraged. I was able to share God and love with others around me in a respectful and caring way while also being encouraged by others in the workplace who know the Lord. Overall, I think the most growth happened in myself and developing who I am as Destanie both inside and outside of the office.”
Destanie was offered a full-time position as a Commercial Real Estate Analyst at JPMC and will be working for the company after graduation. She feels that her time at ACU prepared her for this internship and career through her experience as a leader in various clubs, class presentations, and intentionally getting to know each person in the process. Destanie encourages any student who is thinking about participating in an internship to “first and foremost remember who God is. Remember that regardless of your background, financial status, GPA, or college you are attending God can and will do great things through you. You must trust Him by taking that leap of faith or chance and putting your best foot forward. I applied to a variety of firms both big and small. God is the one who opens the doors and shuts them. He blessed me with this internship and a full-time offer. I put in the work of filling out resumes and cover letters and researching companies that fit the mission I wanted to be a part of. He was the one to open the door and help me through the intensive process to this job!”
Students who are interested in having an internship experience like this one or who would like help preparing for their job search can contact Steph Brown, COBA’s Professional Development Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Katherine Norris | Oct 18, 2021 | Uncategorized
Camryn Eason is a senior marketing and management double major from Keller, TX. This past summer, Camryn had the opportunity to intern with Mary Kay Inc. in Addison, TX. Camryn interned for the Latin America team where she served the markets in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru. Her everyday activities consisted of conducting product health reports, market data research, as well as complete pricing guides for new product lines.
“My favorite part of the internship was getting to compete in the intern competition, where I pitched a new fragrance idea. My project included a breakdown of the fragrance notes, packaging sketch, marketing plan, and pricing breakdown. After presenting my idea to the panel of judges, including the VP of Brand, I won the competition and received the Mary Kay future Leader Award.”
Internships supply students with real-world experience and help them connect what they have learned in the classroom to the workplace. One of the best things that Camryn learned was to reach out for help and communicate with her team saying, “The greatest lesson I learned during my time at this internship was that it is totally okay to ask questions. The point of an internship is to learn, and they will not expect you to know everything coming in!” Looking forward at how this internship impacts her professional career, she acknowledges the importance of the experience and knowledge that came from working for an international business and how it will help her in future job searches. “This internship really helped me gain confidence in my abilities and ideas, so I feel confident as I begin to start the job-hunting process. I also had a lot of time to grow and develop my skills in data analytics, so I know that is something I am interested in pursuing a career in!”
Camryn felt that COBA and ACU prepared her for this internship through “classes such as Marketing Research, Marketing Strategy, Business Statistics, and Data Mining. My supervisors were very impressed with the knowledge I already had at the beginning of my internship. Also, the culture and ethics taught at ACU really helped me fit in with the very uplifting culture at Mary Kay.”
“My favorite thing about being a COBA student is how all the professors really want you to succeed and offer so many resources to help you do so. They are not only concerned about your success in your future career, but also in your own faith. In a time of so much conflict and uncertainty, professors are equipping us to go into the business world and be a light.”
Camryn suggests that all students looking for internships network with ACU alumni because “they are very supportive of students and want to help them succeed.” COBA students needing help searching for an internship or job can contact Steph Brown, our Professional Development Manager. Steph is here to answer all your questions and help you through the process. Email Steph Brown (email@example.com) for more information!
by Katherine Norris | Oct 7, 2021 | Academics, COBA Faculty, Economics, Uncategorized
COBA wants to give a warm welcome to Dr. Trent McNamara, Assistant Professor of Economics. This fall, McNamara will be teaching Principles of Microeconomics and Business Statistics. Trent was born in New Zealand, grew up in Ohio, and moved to Texas in 2007 shortly before starting high school. McNamara double majored in Economics and Pure Mathematics at the University of Texas, graduating in 2015. He then continued with his education, entering into a doctorate program at Texas A&M University where he earned his Ph.D. in Economics in May 2020. Dr. McNamara has been a lecturer for Texas A&M and has also worked in consulting. Trent has been married to his wife, Shelby, for 5 years and together they have a three-year-old son, Haydn.
McNamara said that he was drawn to teaching because it’s a way to contribute to making the world a better place. He shared “I was drawn to this line of work because I enjoy teaching and being able to give back to others. Having been so fortunate to pursue my education and recognizing everyone who helped me get to where I am, I am excited to be able to give back.” He was especially drawn to teach at ACU because of the unique environment, saying noting that the people, the culture, and the relationships that he has developed at ACU have been unique and a special thing to be a part of.
Trent enjoys pushing students beyond their comfort zones to help them grow. “I enjoy helping people push the boundaries of what they thought was possible. Oftentimes, we put a lot of unnecessary constraints or doubt on ourselves – being able to positively encourage people to try something new or to learn something challenging, and to be there for them throughout that process is incredibly rewarding.”
Outside of teaching, McNamara enjoys a variety of hobbies. He said, “I find myself engaged in a lot of things. For days at home, I love to run, read, or cook. I also began woodworking recently and have built all our son’s furniture. For days away from home, you can find us camping and hiking.”
Through this position with COBA, Dr. McNamara told us that his biggest goal is to help others. “If I can make a positive difference in someone’s life each day, I would call that a success.” We pray blessings on Trent and his family as they begin a new milestone. We’re excited to see the ways that Trent will make a positive impact on the lives of COBA students and colleagues. Help us give a warm welcome Dr. McNamara and his family to Abilene and ACU by introducing yourself if you see them on campus or in town. Welcome to ACU, McNamara family!
by Katherine Norris | Sep 30, 2021 | Academics, Careers In..., COBA Faculty, Management, Uncategorized
Matt and Brittany Deeg
COBA is excited to add Dr. Matt Deeg to the faculty this year as Assistant Professor of Management. Deeg will be teaching Organizational Behavior and Compensation & Benefits Management this semester and will teach leadership and other HR/Management-focused courses. Matt earned his B.A. in Social Sciences and Organizational Studies from the University of Oklahoma, M.Ed. in Adult/Higher Education Administration from the University of Oklahoma, and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior & Human Resource Management from University of Kansas with a research emphasis in meaningful work and why people choose to support one another in times of stress. Deeg also worked in student development for 5 years, mentoring and providing leadership development to students and organizations.
Matt and his wife, Brittany, are originally from Duncan, Oklahoma and Toledo, Ohio respectively. “We met when we were both working on the student development side of university life (separate schools). She excels at thinking deeply about any number of topics (probably why we mesh well!) and making them accessible to almost any audience. Her patience and love for others inspires me constantly.” Matt would like to introduce his pets as well, “Panther (the special one whom I bottle-fed from 1 week), Tippy (his ornery brother), and their dog brother Chase (who inspired all of Paw Patrol).” We asked Dr. Deeg a few questions so we could get to know him a little better.
Deeg was drawn to the work of teaching as he’s always been inquisitive. “I’ve always been curious about how things work and why. Growing up, I was a voracious reader and curious kid who just wanted to know stuff. In my undergraduate studies, I explored a whole lot of different majors (engineering to geology to math, and then some). I finally found my groove in the social sciences, exploring what makes people ‘tick’. The drive to become a teacher came from the influence of several faculty members who demonstrated great curiosity in subjects and exceptional care for their students. I put the Ph.D. on hold for a little while to figure out exactly what I wanted to study, and it was in the intervening time that I realized how much I loved helping students explore and develop skills that they can use throughout their lives (at work and in their communities). About 4 years into my career, I realized how influential someone’s work can be to their whole life; from there, it was easy to make that choice to focus on OB/HRM. This work truly is an incredible gift; I get to wake up each day and continue to learn new things and share what I’ve learned and am learning with others!”
Deeg was drawn to teach at ACU because he felt like it was in alignment with his own priorities. “In OB (Organizational Behavior) we talk about person-organization fit, the match an individual feels between their values and the values of a specific place. I’ve worked at a wide range of universities, from large state schools to very small liberal arts institutions. I was always attracted to places where the students came first and their successes were celebrated. So, ACU was a natural fit in that regard. But, even more so, when I was going through the job search process, ACU stood out so strongly because the values that are talked about here (love for God, for others, and for impacting the world) are the same values that I hold. The way that faith is celebrated, prized, and woven throughout an exceptional academic experience is such a gift. There was such a good match, and I was instantly drawn to the opportunity to bring my whole self to work.”
Matt loves teaching and interacting with students. “My main life purpose is helping people thrive and positively impact others; as a professor, I get the opportunity to teach (and hopefully inspire) students to go out and make a difference in others’ lives. In my college career, I had an incredible mentor named Kevin who helped me grow in my relationship with God and as a student leader. He inspired me to lean into my work with college students, and I’m so grateful for a role that allows me to continue to pay forward the impact so many professors and mentors have had in my life. College is a time when you’re still learning and have a lot of freedom to make mistakes; being a participant in this ‘life lab’ with students as they figure out who they are, who they want to be, and how they want to serve the world feeds my spirit.”
Outside of teaching, you’ll most often find Matt in the kitchen or the workshop. “Brittany and I both enjoy cooking, especially cuisines we’re not super familiar with. We’ve been cooking our way through an Asian cookbook (using my outdoor wok burner ) and recently got a cookbook of recipes from 8 countries in east Africa that we’re excited to try. I really enjoy woodworking – building lamps, desks, and the occasional dog food bowl holder. To relax after work, I also enjoy playing classical music on the piano.”
Deeg is looking forward to making a positive impact in his new position. “I’m excited to help students as they prepare to do good work wherever their life takes them – building relationships with students in class and outside of it so they have resources to draw on as they move through life. I’m looking forward to working more closely with students to do research on stress and support; the research process is such an invigorating experience full of learning opportunities. And, I’m hoping to bring my own research (on support and meaningfulness in life) into classes, either through class sessions on these topics or through honors colloquia. Additionally, I’m hoping to build strong relationships with our local business leaders to find more opportunities for our students to get practical experience.”
We’re looking forward to the ways in which Dr. Deeg will positively impact COBA students and the COBA team. Be sure to introduce yourself to Matt and Brittany as you see them on campus and in our community as we welcome them to ACU.
by Katherine Norris | Apr 6, 2021 | Academics, College Decisions, Current Students, Marketing, MBA
Noah Brinegar, senior marketing major from Round Rock, Texas isn’t ready to say goodbye to the classroom just yet. Brinegar was recently accepted into North Carolina State University’s graduate school in Raleigh, North Carolina where he will be pursuing a Master of Science in Analytics. The experiences that Noah was able to partake in both inside and outside of the classroom have fueled his desire to pursue graduate school and apply his marketing degree to the more specific field of analytics.
One of COBA’s Strategic Initiatives in the 2022 Strategic Plan is to encourage holistic student learning and development. Noah says that the way COBA works in tandem with the classroom and professional development for students helped him to better understand concepts that were being taught and apply the knowledge he was learning. “Specifically the hands-on learning from projects within the marketing classes made me feel really confident in my ability to handle large amounts of work as well as consulting.” An integral part of preparing students is the professional development program, COBA EDGE, headed by Professional Development Manager Steph Brown. “She helped me get an internship over the summer and in this semester that gave me valuable experience and connections.” Noah expressed his appreciation for the ways that Brown encouraged him to discover his values in order to create purpose statements and helped him build his resume for graduate school applications.
Another holistic student development experience for Noah was being a part of the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy as a participant of the Fellows program. “I gained a passion for entrepreneurship and doing it in a way that redeems the wrongs of this world.” Noah says that the Fellows program grew him in many ways throughout his time here. “I had my eyes opened to many different perspectives from students and leaders of different races, backgrounds, and convictions that challenged me to open my mind and humble myself before others.” More than the programs that Noah was involved in, he also looks back on how ACU became the keystone community that pushed him to achieve personal and professional goals.
As every entering college student makes the transition into their university, there is always the initial challenge of finding community and understanding your purpose within that community. Noah told us that when he found his place within the ACU body, it quickly became his favorite part of his college experience saying, “It is truly a blessing to be a part of.” One of the memories he will take with him is of Dr. Ryan Jessup’s “Cheese Day”, held in his Data Mining class. Data Mining is a very challenging upper-level marketing course and “Cheese Day” is a learning-centered celebration day looked forward to all semester by Jessup’s students. One might even define the day as an “experiential learning” opportunity as Jessup allows students to work on their final projects in class so they can ask any last questions, while at the same time tasting different cheeses and filling out a form that collects opinionated data on the different qualities of the cheeses. Jessup always brings it back to analytics… as he students can attest.
Noah will take a part of ACU with him when he heads to North Carolina and advises students who are considering attending graduate school to look for a place that will help them continue to grow and develop. “When seeking grad schools, look for the programs that fit you the best (classes offered or jobs that often come from that specific program according to your goals), then tailor your preparation and application to their desires instead of trying to do everything and spreading yourself too thin.“ Congratulations to Noah as he prepares to graduate from ACU and on his acceptance to North Carolina State University. We can’t wait to see how he uses his talent to honor God and bless the world.
by Katherine Norris | Feb 25, 2021 | City of Abilene, Current Students, Management, Marketing, Social Entrepreneurship, Student Spotlights, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized
Karson Tutt, senior management major from Tuscola, Texas is a busy young entrepreneur. In addition to finishing her college courses, she is president of the Founders Club (part of the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy) and the owner of Karson’s, a jewelry and clothing boutique in downtown Abilene. Tutt began her business making jewelry that she sold online and to friends. In 2020, that small business expanded into a storefront with seven employees. Karson quickly experienced success in her new venture and saw an opportunity to start a new project that not only helped her own business but also helped other budding entrepreneurs. The Commons is a space connected to Karson’s that allows small businesses to set up a retail shop and have a chance to grow without the long-term contract and overhead fees normally associated with owning your own business or renting a space. The Commons features nine small businesses, two of which are run by current ACU students. Karson said that she was inspired to open this space because of a kindness that she was given when she was just starting out. “When I was in high school, my friend’s grandma let me do something similar in the front of her furniture consignment shop. She tracked all of my sales and checked everyone out, but I managed the inventory and advertising.” Having been inspired by Karson’s own experiences, she hopes the venture will benefit the vendors in many ways. “I am hoping it not only helps them make more sales but also gives them more exposure to customers who may not have known who they were before coming to The Commons. Between those 9 businesses and myself, we are encouraging tons of people from all different demographics to come to one place to shop.“
Being a highly involved ACU student and owner of two businesses, one might think that Tutt has her plate full managing both Karson’s and The commons but she says it’s gone well thus far. “It has been surprisingly smooth! There are a few things I wish I would’ve done before we opened (ex. signage outside, more social media content, etc.), but I can still get it done! All of the vendors have been so nice and are doing a great job with their booths.“
Karson received funding through the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy when she won the Springboard Student Venture Competition in 2020. She credits COBA and the Griggs Center in helping her throughout her entrepreneurial journey saying, “They have given me an amazing community of like-minded business people. I love leaning into that community and I know even after I graduate that my friends and professors will be people who I can reach out to if I ever need it. I also won a pitch competition in April that helped fund my store. Getting that money helped me solidify my decision to open the store in the first place.“
Hearing about Karson’s vision for The Commons made us curious about what this opportunity is like for the ACU students who are able to participate in this new concept so we asked them a few questions to learn more about their experience.
Melissa Huffines is a junior youth and family ministry major from Abilene, Texas. Her business, Sideline Social Club, primarily provides fashionable purple and white game day clothing. She was inspired to start her business when talking with a former manager about her future dreams. That manager was able to help her start Sideline Social Club. One of Melissa’s biggest goals in being a part of The Commons is to learn how to manage a storefront as a college student. Melissa has already learned one lesson from the experience in determining which products sell the best and which products shouldn’t make the cut. She said, “It helped me see how beneficial a storefront is!”
Maddie Rogers, a sophomore graphic design major from Abilene, Texas runs a business called Oh So Sunny that sells products consisting mainly of stickers and apparel. “I design and create products that send a message of joy, sunshine, and hope.” Maddie started her business in high school when she made a sticker to commemorate her acceptance into ACU. The “Scratch ‘Em Cats” sticker spiked her interest and led Maddie to design new creations. Rogers has learned a lot from being a part of The Commons. “I’ve learned how important it is to network and put yourself out there in order to succeed. Being at The Commons has also helped me meet so many other small business owners in Abilene and helped me find a support system through the many trials that come with this crazy endeavor!” The space has given Maddie the chance to help her business grow. “This opportunity has helped me reach new customers I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise! It also helped me see what the experience would be like to own my own store if I ever wanted to. Karson has really utilized her talent and taught me what hard work looks like. I truly don’t know how she does it!”
COBA seeks to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. Karson Tutt is living out that vision and helping her fellow entrepreneurs along the way before she’s even walked the stage at graduation. If you’d like to learn more about opportunities for students like Karson through the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, click here.
by Katherine Norris | Jan 28, 2021 | City of Abilene, Current Students, Student Spotlights
The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, located in COBA, founded the Springboard Student Venture Competition to support the growth of ACU undergraduate and graduate student businesses and nonprofit organizations. Winners receive one-time funding from $500 – $3,000.
In order for the students to be able to compete in front of the Springboard judging panel, the students must be enrolled at ACU, must own at least 51% of their venture, and must be engaged in entrepreneurial activities such as the Founders Club, a student venture club led by Mindy Howard, the Student Engagement Coordinator in the Griggs Center. Awards are based on the panel’s assessment of the potential of the business and the “spirit of entrepreneurship displayed by the student(s)”. Students come prepared with a 3 – 4-minute speech and the necessary financial reports for their business. Each student receives feedback on their presentation/business model and a chance to compete again in the next competition for those who are not awarded funding in the current competition. This year, the students gave their pitch to three local business owners via video chat.
A.J. Brown, senior management major from Midland, Texas won this round of competition receiving a total of $3,000 to put towards his business, Southern Sno Shaved Ice.
We asked Brown about his business and how he got started. “Southern Sno is a mobile shaved ice trailer in Midland. We have a location that is open daily during the summer, while also catering to events/parties with an outfitted gas-powered cart that we like to call the ‘Jolly Trolley’. We pride ourselves on being the fastest shaved ice drive-thru in town, with the nicest employees. Our sno-cones have fun and unique flavors with the softest ice.”
One thing that unites many of the Founders Club members is how they got started. Each student has a unique story, but they could all agree that they put themselves out there and went for what they wanted to achieve. “During my freshman year of college, I changed my major to business after the first semester. Because of that, I was looking for something that I could do in the summer that could teach me about business while still getting to hang out with my friends. Options were limited because it had to be a seasonal business, so that is where the idea of sno-cones came into play. I used the money I saved up from a mobile car detailing business I ran in high school and hit the ground running!”
We love hearing Brown’s story and his inspiration to create his own work experience based on what he has been learning in COBA. From beginning his business to winning the competition, we asked Brown what he learned from the experience. “The competition was a great experience for me. It gave me a reason to step back, analyze what things I have done well, and what things I need to improve on. I also loved the experience of having to come prepared and confident about presenting my business in front of a group of successful entrepreneurs. I am very grateful for the Griggs Center and all that it does!”
Now that Brown has won, he says, “In all that I do with this business, I want to go about it in a smart and professional manner. I have heard of many companies that scale too fast and it ends up hurting them. My dream is to expand Southern Sno into other cities in Texas. But for now, I am focused on mastering the operations in Midland. At Southern Sno, everything is made in-house: syrups, ice, etc. The last two years I have been very blessed to be able to use a commercial kitchen from a group in Midland. I have realized that this isn’t a great long-term solution for scaling the business. So, with the money I have won from the competition, I will outfit the small warehouse that Southern Sno leases from a group in Midland. This allows me to have all of the supplies, ice, syrups, and trailers all in one place which really helps operations. Once we master that, we will look to move forward with possibly expanding into other markets.”
Owning a small business during COVID-19 has proved to be a difficult task for business owners all across the nation. We asked Brown what it has been like to continue operations as a young entrepreneur. He told us, “COVID-19 brought about some crazy instances. The first crazy thing we had to deal with was on our ‘Opening Day’ that we had been advertising for over a month. Thirty minutes before opening, the owner of the lot we were using called and said we could not be there. So that was a mess, but we recovered and ended up finding a great location. I would say the main thing that we had to change was we completely pivoted into a drive-thru only location. Before, people could only walk up. The drive-thru actually created a quicker and more efficient way for us to get cars in and out, and it showed in our daily revenue. The biggest downside we faced was that our business was hurt with not really being able to do many events throughout the summer. The year before that was our primary source of income. We are hoping to increase both of those streams of revenue this next summer, hoping that Covid calms down!”
Congratulations to A.J. Brown for all of his hard work and accomplishments that have led him to this point in his entrepreneurial journey. We look forward to seeing his continued growth as an entrepreneur as he continues to learn and expand his business.
You can check out Southern Sno Shaved Ice here!
by Katherine Norris | Jan 21, 2021 | Accounting, Alumni Spotlight, Careers In..., City of Abilene, Faith Infusion, Financial Management, MAcc, Uncategorized
When Sarah (Hailey) Bacon (‘13) graduated with an undergraduate degree in accounting and then with a MAcc degree in 2015, she likely did not imagine that she would become the Vice President, Accounting Officer at First Financial Bankshares, Inc. at such a young age. Sarah’s passion for numbers, her diverse background in accounting, and the pull of being close to family all had a hand in shaping her future career path.
During her time at ACU, she worked in the COBA Dean’s office as a student employee and also held a job as a controller for a local insurance agency. Bacon was able to apply many of the principles she was learning in both her undergraduate and graduate classes during this time. She also gained a firm understanding of the business world which she says helped tremendously at her first post-graduation job in public accounting as an auditor at a firm in Dallas. “I could relate to clients having been one myself. Ultimately, the combination of industry and audit experience lead me to my current position with First Financial.”
In early 2018, Sarah and her husband Michael (’12) decided they wanted to move back to Abilene to be closer to family. It didn’t take long for her Abilene connections to notify various people at First Financial that the Bacons were moving back to town. One morning, Sarah received a call from the previous CFO of First Financial Bankshares and, after interviewing in person a week later, they created a position for Sarah. “I was very excited because I had dreamed of working there since I first went to college.”
As most new grads find out, learning to navigate the world of working young adulthood can be hard. Sarah said, “Learning to balance work and life has always been a struggle for me. I’ve learned that there is a balance, however. That balance is different for everyone and is ever-evolving throughout the different stages of life. My best advice to anyone, including myself, is to be patient with yourself.” One of her favorite take-aways from ACU was a quote that came from Dr. Gary McCaleb to “be a life-long learner”. “This is so prevalent in today’s world where things are constantly changing and evolving at an unprecedented pace. I must always strive to be better and more knowledgeable in my field and in general. My time at ACU provided me the tools and the drive to be a life-long learner.”
Bacon said that one of the biggest surprises she’s encountered since leaving ACU is that she’s found ACU alums everywhere she has gone. “There have been ACU alumni at every company I’ve worked for, lots of networking events and several places that I’ve traveled. It’s so fun to reminisce about common professors, social clubs and Sing Song.”
COBA believes in empowering students and alumni to weave their faith into their vocation. This is something that truly resonated with Sarah as a student and now in her current position. “My faith has impacted my work most from the standpoint that I have long-believed accounting has been my calling. I try to use Christian beliefs and strong morals in everything I do, and every decision I make. I had a strong faith in Christ before I was a part of COBA, but learning in a Christian environment only helped strengthen that faith.”
Along with growing deeper in her faith, some of Sarah’s favorite memories were made at ACU; most importantly meeting her husband, Michael Bacon, in the Fall of 2014 in Dr. Paul Lakey’s communication class while they were both in graduate school and then marrying him in the Chapel on the Hill on ACU’s campus in 2016. To top off the magical day, the ceremony was conducted by Sarah’s dad, Joe Hailey (’69). Sarah also has a special place in her heart for the ACU tradition of singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. She said, “I can’t narrow down one specific time that is my favorite, but the feeling of unity and common love felt when this song is sung at ACU is something that will stick with me forever. It’s the kind of feeling that gives me chills and brings a smile to my face. I associate this song with ACU.”
During her time at ACU, Sarah enjoyed being a COBA Dean’s office student employee. “I had the opportunity to get to know several professors and back-office associates better than most. I learned how down to earth they are and how much they really care. Dr. Jonathan Stewart is one of my favorite professors. His podcasts were a big deal before podcasts were a big deal and made learning fun. I loved how several COBA professors integrated fun, out-of-the-box ways of learning. Dr. Bill Fowler’s audit stories always made me laugh.”
Sarah encourages students, especially freshmen, to spend time talking to their professors. “Invest not only in your studies but in your relationships with the people around you. The content of studies is always evolving but your connections will only go away if you let them. Building a network of professionals and fellow students can be more valuable than you could imagine.”
Bacon also has some advice for current accounting students preparing for their future. “I suggest current accounting students evaluate early on if they plan to sit for the CPA exam. Adjust your class schedule so you have the right classes completed in order to take exams while still in school. Take advantage of the resources COBA provides for study materials and take as many exams as possible prior to beginning your career after college. It’s helpful to do this while you’re still in the habit of studying.” And for all COBA students, she suggests, “Participate in the practice job interviews and learn to keep up with current events in your field.”
As part of the vision, mission, and values of the college, COBA strives to create excellence and impact by upholding high moral and professional standards of excellence for faculty, staff, students and alumni, calling each person to a life of service and leadership that glorifies God and transforms communities and society. Sermons aren’t just lived out from the pulpit. Sometimes, the best sermons are seen at places like banks. Thank you to Sarah Bacon for making the world a better place by living out faith in the workplace.
by Katherine Norris | Dec 28, 2020 | Academics, City of Abilene, College Decisions, Current Students, Human Resource Management, Management, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized
For students, the winter break can be one of the most optimal times to work on your resume and career search because you have spare time to search for internships or apply for jobs depending on where you are in your academic journey towards graduation. To help students get started, we have been posting Tip Tuesday advice on our social media that guides you through small and easy steps that you can take over the next four weeks to help you find interesting career options and get your resume and social media ready for potential employers.
To give you some encouragement on your internship journey, we wanted to share an internship story from one of our current students, senior management major Meagan Thomason from Midland, TX. She interned for ER Senior Management, LLC which provides service across Texas to owner-operated/managed senior living retirement communities. Meagan worked in one of their Abilene locations where she assisted in Human Resource (HR) functions. Meagan’s internship duties were varied as she told us, “This semester I have specialized in the Associate Satisfaction Surveys in pulling data and displaying the survey results. I mostly worked with Excel and Canva. I also assisted in recruitment by reading resumes, scheduling interviews, and sitting in on those interviews. Along with all that I assisted in coding insurance invoices among other HR-related tasks.”
Meagan found that seeing the tangible results of her labor was incredibly satisfying and made this the favorite part of her internship as she saw the findings being put to good use within the company. She told us, “I worked so hard on the surveys for so long and finally seeing the results and all my hard work being sent back out to the four different communities. It felt good to finally have others see what I had been working on for so long.”
Internships offer students more than just course credit or, in some cases, financial gain. They can also offer great experience and insight as Meagan found, telling us that she learned, “The stress of dealing with a crisis in the office along with the importance of writing a good solid resume. It’s important to keep a level head, especially when working in the healthcare industry during a pandemic. This internship also allowed me to figure out what part of the business I wanted to go into after graduation. I was unsure before, but this internship taught me the value of Human Resources and why HR exists.“
Looking forward, this internship is shaping her future as she gained invaluable hands-on experience teaching her lessons that she could not have learned in a classroom. Her internship helped her explore and discover what area of HR she was interested in and what it would take to be hired by another company in the future. Meagan told us that the experience as a whole has helped her to take initiative and prepare to make the transition from a university student to her future career in the industry.
Meagan advises future interns, “Keep a notebook and write down EVERYTHING you do. This will help you in updating your resume and in future interviews when you’re asked about what you did during your internship. It also helps you keep track of your tasks you’re assigned and if you’re asked about something you did a month previously, you can turn to that page and explain exactly what you did.” She also suggested to “Keep a google calendar of everything you have going on. This semester I worked at my internship and a part-time job. I’m also one of Delta Theta’s pledge officers and a full-time student. It can be a lot and Google Calendar helped me schedule out my weeks.”
Meagan said that the classes she took, particularly in excel and personal selling, prepared her for the internship and future employment as they directly applied to her internship as she developed surveys and assisted in recruitment and resume review. Meagan also felt that the mock interviews she participated in through COBA Edge assisted in her interview process.
Meagan has enjoyed her time in COBA and says one of her favorite things about being a business major happened early on in her academic career. “I would say the Venture Out project in Monty Lynn’s Intro to Business class was one of my favorite classes. Trusting a bunch of freshmen with the funds to buy and sell products? That was a really fun first project for college.” Meagan’s hands-on holistic COBA experience has been extremely valuable to her in preparing her for her internship and in preparation for her future career.
We love assisting students as they journey through classes, internships, and career searches. If you would like help with your resume and internship or job search, you can contact Steph Brown with COBA Edge at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also check out our social media every Tuesday during break to get tips on what you can be doing now to prepare for internships and future careers!
by Katherine Norris | Nov 19, 2020 | Academics, City of Abilene, Current Students, Faith Infusion, Management, Marketing, Student Spotlights, Uncategorized
Accomplishing their goal to add a new venture this semester, Wildcat Ventures acquired Right Hand Media (RHM), making it their sixth student-run business on campus. President of Wildcat Ventures, Riley Simpson, originally founded Right Hand Media as a freelance videographer. However, seeing that it would thrive in the market Wildcat Ventures caters to, the team made the decision to bring the business on board, hiring Tres Cox as the CEO.
Tres is a marketing and management major from Lewisville, TX. Working alongside Tres is account manager Bekah Penton, content creator David Mitchell, creative designer Ashley Lang, videographers/editors Emily Shafer and Tavian Miles, and videographer and web designer Matthew Jungling.
Tres sees RHM as helping to fill a communication gap on campus. “In this season, everyone is looking for an effective way to connect with their audience, and visual media is one the best ways to do that. Our services help our clients make an impression and make connections.” RHM specifically works in video production, digital marketing, photography, and design.
CEO, Tres Cox
Cox said that their customer base is varied. “Our services are businesses and organizations who want to present themselves and express their message with quality content. At Right Hand Media, we encourage our partners to play their best hand.”
RHM has worked on many projects over the semester that encapsulates the mission behind that statement. Every project has elegant evidence to show for the team’s workmanship. The company has been working closely with Dr. Dennis Marquardt and Nick Gonzales from the Lytle Center to produce the Leadership Link podcast. Nick is a fan of the work of RHM, saying, “What is unique about Right Hand Media is that they are an organization that is very easy to work with. Their adaptability is a trait that no one should take for granted. They have worked with the Lytle Center for multiple episodes and each time we pitch a new idea or have second thoughts on something they are quick to go with the flow, brainstorm, and even build upon ideas.” Gonzales noted that working with RHM means “working with excellence” and gives high praise to the team’s professionalism and collegiality.
RHM filming Mary Gregory’s Class
Another great testimony about what RHM is helping clients accomplish is the growth of painter Mary Gregory’s online painting class, Egg, Feather, Nest. Cox detailed how RHM has worked to help Gregory market her talents. “Our team films and produces the video lessons that go into her courses, creating graphics and promotional content, and managing the digital marketing strategy for the company’s online presence. It’s been an incredible journey, taking Mary from teaching only small workshops when she had the time to now teaching hundreds of students online.”
Account Manager, Bekah Penton
Not only have these client accounts created experiential learning opportunities for RHM student employees, but the students are also building on their strengths and gaining valuable experience for their future careers. Bekah Penton said, “Working at Right Hand Media has been different than any other position I have held before, but I have learned something new every day. While I have done freelance social media management before, this position at RHM has allowed me to take more of a leadership role on a team instead of independent work. It has also allowed me to continually grow in my knowledge of digital marketing such as social media, email, and content creation.”
Creative Designer, Ashley Lang
Ashley Lang told us that she loves her team because “Our people are diverse and incredibly creative in unique ways. Everyone has something different to bring to the table, and we get to utilize those strengths to create killer projects that cater to the needs of our clients. Each of us is heavily involved in things outside of RHM, and I think that reflects the potential for leadership and the amount of talent that exists within our team. These are people that come willing to learn and try new things together, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!”
Inspiring and equipping students is part of the vision of the College of Business – to connect business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. The creative spark that the Right Hand Media team shows through their work to help others shine while continuing to learn and excel at their professional skills is something that COBA aspires to instill in all of its students. To follow RHM’s team on their Instagram page click HERE.