As part of the COBA Vision, Mission, and Values, we seek to inspire, equip, and connect Christian business and technology professionals for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. This past September, the strength of that connection was on full display as ACU alumni that work for Southwest Airlines came to visit campus – something they have done for the past several years.
The Southwest Airlines representatives spent time connecting with students, providing insight on resume-building, and highlighting internship opportunities within the SWA organization. Among those representatives were Laurie Barnett (’90), Managing Director, Communications & Outreach, Katie Coldwell (’00), Communications Director and recipient of the 2019 ACU Distinguished Alumni Citation, and Chris Grubbs (’95), Program Manager. Grubbs said that Southwest’s visits to ACU help to “Build alumni support and give graduates an opportunity to work for the best airline in the world”. Grubbs went on to share that a reason that SWA is so eager to reach out to ACU students is because the SWA company culture aligns so closely with ACU’s. Southwest holds the golden rule “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” in the highest regard and runs their business with that principle in mind, which is evident through their hospitality and customer service.
With that in mind, SWA encouraged students to apply for internships and jobs with them to continue growing their customer friendly culture. While technical knowledge is important, Southwest emphasized that their focus tends to be on hiring for the right personality fit because technical components can be learned, but who you are shapes who the company is. Because the company’s foundations revolve around a servant’s heart, reflected in the personalities and actions of their employees, Southwest likes to have ACU alumni travel back to campus and share their experience with students who they believe demonstrate the same type of servant leadership.
Tim Johnston, Assistant Dean, shared his perspective on working for SWA. “Southwest Airlines is a company that believes if they take care of their people, their people will take care of their customers, and their customers will take care of their shareholders. We had seven ACU alumni come to campus to help ACU students learn about Southwest and to encourage our students to apply for internships with the company.”
Johnston went on to say, “SWA is a well respected company and they don’t have any problems fielding thousands of applicants for each internship opening. A recent graduate told her SWA story saying that she started applying for internships in October before finally receiving an interview in March. She consistently monitored the SWA career site and did not get discouraged when she was not offered an interview for several of the openings she pursued. Students walked away with a good understanding of the challenges associated with getting an opportunity to work with SWA. At the same time, they gained insight into qualities that will help their application standout. Finally, they have seen first hand the benefit of an ACU education. Our alumni made these two days happen. Their dedication to their alma mater, to Southwest Airlines, and their belief that the two organizations have matching values was the driver behind these two successful days on the ACU campus.”
Skyler Seidman, marketing major from Coppell, TX, finds ACU connections to businesses like Southwest Airlines beneficial to his professional development. The resume help that the SWA representatives provided was an influential part in Skyler’s interest in the company. This guidance helps students like Skyler see what experience and preparation they need to help find their place in a 60,000 employee, world-class company like Southwest Airlines. The SWA representatives expressed that this was a great opportunity for them to give back to their alma mater and help young professionals prepare to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the real world, creating career opportunity paths. Many thanks to our ACU alums at Southwest Airlines for sharing their time and talent with our students.
Internships matter. That’s what the COBA Professional Development team and the ACU Career Center want to imprint in every student’s mind. According to a 2017 NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition study (click here to read), “Grade point average and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate student are the major predictors of initial career outcomes.” What the study found was that participation in internships in college greatly increased a student’s chances of becoming employed within six months of graduation. In addition to creating better opportunities for employment, internships help students discern what types of careers they want to pursue after graduation. We talked to two students who completed internships this summer to see how their internships impacted them.
Jemimah Wavamunno, junior management major from Kampala, Uganda, interned for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., focusing on public and foreign policy. Her favorite part of the internship was, “Getting to grow alongside interns in my program (National Student Leadership). I feel in the professional work-space, I learned even more about my desired field of postgraduate study – Foreign Policy/ Affairs. Therefore, I have a better understanding of what I want to learn in the future.”
Jemimah’s advice for students who are looking for internships is to keep their options open while applying. “Don’t just search for what might look good on your resume. Look for something that will pertain specifically to you and your journey. Pray over all your offers to choose the right one, and don’t be so downcast over your rejections.”
Luke Stevens, senior marketing major from Montgomery, Texas, interned with Pharos Resources, LLC in Abilene. Luke served as a Retention Intelligence Specialist performing data analytics and visualization tasks. His favorite part of the internship was learning the Tableau software. “It is an amazing
program and will be very useful in any business setting.” Not only did he enjoy acquiring new skills, but Luke sees this internship helping him in the future in large part due to the support he received from the Pharos staff. “Pharos is a great support system, not just a job. The leaders care about you and want you to succeed in your career. Having their support along with the skills that I’ve learned here will propel me into a career of success.” Luke felt as though his largest area of personal and professional growth came from gaining responsibility “to perform tasks that will actually be seen by clients. I never felt an overwhelming fear of making a mistake. Instead, I learned to have a healthy understanding that I must constantly give my best work.”
Luke advises students looking for internships, “Don’t stop looking for internships or making connections. The offer to intern at Pharos came late in my search and it turned out to be better than I could have hoped.”
We spoke with Steph Brown, COBA’s Professional Development Manager, to learn how she is working to get students engaged with her office and prepare them for successful outcomes after graduation. Building on relationships with faculty, the ACU Career Center, and her ten years of experience in counseling, advising, coaching and leadership training, Steph is working to implement a new program that strengthens COBA’s business and technology professional development. The EDGE Professional Development Program (E = Explore, D = Develop a Plan, G = Gain Experience, E = Employment) helps students take intentional steps each semester to prepare for entry into the professional world of work. Steph says, “Intentional professional development planning in college is critical for students to successfully compete for and gain internships and jobs. Students who begin this process their first year of college have significant advantages over students who do not.”
The EDGE Professional Development Program is designed to develop, equip, and connect business and technology students for career success. By utilizing online self-learning Canvas course modules, weekly workshops, one-on-one coaching appointments, and campus resources, students gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience that enables them to compete for internships and jobs. All business majors are encouraged to participate in this professional development program and all technology students have mandated requirements for participation.
Freshmen explore majors and career paths. In their sophomore year, students learn how to manage their professional impressions and create career plans. Each year, students update their resume and create professional portfolios to market themselves to employers. In their junior year, students begin developing professional networks in their industries of choice, learning how to search for, apply to, interview for, and secure internships. As a senior, students expand their networking skills and continue to market themselves professionally. Students also learn strategies to transition from college to the workforce.
COBA’s focus on internship and job preparation through the EDGE program is indicative of the importance placed on the investment that students and parents make in college; an investment of their money, time, and hard work. In the 2017 Job Outlook survey from NACE (click here to read), only 5 percent of employer respondents said that work experience is not a factor when hiring new graduates. The majority of employers are looking to hire college graduates who have completed an internship or gained some kind of work experience while in college. Professional development programs like EDGE and the ACU Career Center, along with internship experiences, accelerate entry-level career opportunities. We think that’s the kind of pay off a college investment should have. Do you have questions about the EDGE program? Email Steph Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The end of the academic year brings about the season of awards, recognition, and change whether it occurs in elementary school, high school, or college. While we celebrate our graduates and the next chapter of their lives, the College of Business Administration is not immune to transition, either. We are saying farewell to three inspirational professors: Dr. Rob Byrd (Associate Professor of IT and Computing), Dr. Malcolm Coco (Professor of Human Resource Management), and Dr. Terry Pope (Professor of Finance) as they retire. Students, colleagues, friends and family joined to honor them at receptions on May 6th where tributes and well wishes were shared with each of the retiring professors.
Rob Byrd with SITC students Paula Berggren and Lauren Walker
Rob Byrd came to ACU in 2009 and was known for not only helping students dive deep into the world of Information Technology and Security, but also helping them develop a deeper faith and spiritual walk. Recent SITC graduate, Lauren Walker (’19) described Byrd as a passionate teacher who wanted to maximize students’ learning and push them to be their best selves. She said, “He never missed an opportunity to show us how the knowledge and skills we were gaining can transcend all areas of life. He never settled on just letting us ‘get by’ with our education. He constantly challenged us and pushed for excellence and innovation. As a mentor, he was a person who saw the best in his students. He wasn’t afraid to say the hard things, and encouraged us to go after the things in life we never thought we could achieve. ” Dr. Byrd baptized Lauren last October and she recounted that Byrd was “just simply himself”, never afraid to be transparent, witty, cynical, and show a genuine interest in his students. She said, “If anyone of us needed help with something school related, or even personal, it wasn’t a doubt that he was just one phone call or text away.”
While some students might have been intimidated by a professor like Byrd, Walker said, “The last thing I guess I want to say is that like all of the SITC professors, Dr. Byrd is so special. Dr. Byrd is such a softy, but of course he would never say it. He has such a servant heart, and has touched so many students’ lives over the years, and of course I just happen to be one of them. He’s one of those professors I will end up telling my children stories about!”
Byrd is transitioning into a new career as Staff Technical Project Engineer with Collins Aerospace at their headquarters location in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said, “This position will be a challenging adventure for me-just what I was hoping for. Working at this level will allow me to be involved and responsible for both the design/development and the budgetary/systems aspects of the assigned projects and programs. The nature of the work will be classified, but will be in support of national defense and will draw from my education, experience and certifications. I thank my colleagues for their support.”
Coco with students Grace Smith and Dayle Hayes
Malcolm Coco arrived at ACU in 1989. Coco was well known for helping students find jobs through his internship class, mentoring students through Human Resource classes and the Student Chapter of the Human Resource Management organization, his love for the outdoors, and playing the Beach Boys loudly during office hours.
Coco said that when he came to ACU, he only intended to teach for 2 or 3 years and then planned to pursue a career as a pilot for an airlines. Thirty years later, he says, “I’m still teaching and enjoying every minute. Associating with great Christian faculty and staff and having the opportunity to shape young lives has been a blessing to me. I’m wondering where the 30 years went to!”
Dr. Coco with his family
When asked what the best advice he would offer to students would be, he encouraged students to be the best you that you can be. Always strive to be your bosses “go to” person, meaning when there is an important project with a short turn around and it needs to be done correctly, you want your boss to always think of you as the person he or she trusts to get the job done. He said, “Winners make it happen and losers let it happen.”
To his colleagues, Coco said, “It has been a blessing to me to have the fortune of knowing so many God fearing, Christian faculty. Your example and support for me and my family for these past 30 years has been tremendous. Thanks for the memories.”
Retirement for Coco will be a mixed bag. He will continue to teach as an adjunct faculty member and will continue to manage the COBA internship program. Coco has no plans to slow down. He said, “My children and grandchildren all live in Abilene, so I’m planning for some serious grandchild time. Hobbies of hunting and fishing will continue. I have already joined several civic organizations and intend to do volunteer work for several non-profits.”
Pope with daughter Abby Pimentel and wife Gayla
When he wasn’t teaching a finance class like STAR (Student Trading and Research), you could find Terry Pope on the golf course, working on his new baseball podcast with Tim Johnston, or in his shop working on his next furniture project.
Terry Pope answered the call by Jack Griggs to come and teach at ACU in 1992. Pope said that teaching at ACU has been a great experience, “When I came to Abilene, having already worked for twenty-three years in industry and academics, I was thinking that I would teach for about fifteen years. However, teaching at ACU was so rewarding that I just kept showing up, year after year. ACU is a special place to our family, since Gayla and I, all three of our children, and three of our grandchildren have attended. Our other six grandchildren will likely follow in these steps.” Pope went on to say that it’s been great to be a part of the ACU community. He said, “I felt that everyone on campus strove for excellence in what they did and sought to be pleasing to God. Being a part of that environment made me a better person.”
Terry, Gayla, Beth, and Don Pope
When asked if there was anything he’d like students to know, he said, without question that the favorite part of teaching at ACU was getting to know so many students. Pope estimates that he has taught about four thousand students and tried to get to know each one of them saying, “I have many great friendships today with former students. Every student was different – different backgrounds, different interests, and different personalities. That diversity made our community better. I hope that I communicated to my students that being a Jesus follower comes before all else. While I taught Finance, I said ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’. Brilliance in Finance is not the main thing, but only a compliment to following Jesus.”
Pope said that his colleagues at ACU were great and continue to be his close friends. He recounted, “I remember telling someone early in my career at ACU that I had underestimated the joy of being able to work daily in a Christian environment. I felt a closeness and shared purpose with colleagues all over campus, even though we might not have been well acquainted. To all of these colleagues, I say ‘keep it going’. Investment managers must communicate to their clients that ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’ Every day is a new day that requires our best efforts and a continuing renewal of our minds.”
Pope plans on staying in Abilene and continuing to be closely connected to ACU while spending time playing more golf and tennis, doing more woodworking, taking piano, traveling, studying, and volunteering. “There are many more things that I will want to do that time will allow.”
Combined, the three educators have almost 75 years of experience teaching ACU students. Their dedication to students and peers as well as their example of excellence in the classroom and in their faith walks will truly be missed. The words “thank you” seem inadequate for what they have meant to the lives of thousands of students.
Click on the highlighted links below to view pictures and video messages in tribute to each of the retiring professors.
Pics from the retirement reception
Rob Byrd video
Malcolm Coco video
Terry Pope video
Students speak with Jeff Campbell of Southwest Airlines.
You may have heard it said before, but ACU’s College of Business Administration is not your typical business and technology school. Our mission is to educate business and technology students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. We do this by providing exceptional academics, fostering spiritual growth, and providing students with unique opportunities to interact with professionals during their time here. We work hard to give students exposure to a variety of different businesses that lead to internships and entry0lvel career opportunities.
In October, ten different companies came to campus to speak in classes and lunches, participate in networking events and career fairs, and host on-campus interviews for jobs and internships. Southwest Airlines, Brazen Animation, USAA, Faithlife, KPMG, and PWC are just a few of the companies that come to network and recruit our students through these events. Anna ter Kuile, a senior computer science major from Nashville, Tennessee attended a networking lunch with USAA in the fall of 2017. She had the
David Mitchell from Faithlife Corporation speaks to a class.
opportunity to meet and connect with employees at USAA and ended up receiving an internship as a software developer and integrator in the summer of 2018. ter Kuilereceived another internship offer from USAA at the end of the summer and plans to work for them again in 2019. “The personal connections I made at the information lunch on campus were invaluable in the hiring and application process,” said ter Kuile. “It gave me an edge over other applicants and I was able to really see the culture of USAA through that event, which made me want to work there even more. Attending that event opened doors for me that I did not know were there and helped me build a foundation for my future career.”
Employees from USAA speak with students at a networking luncheon.
Attending events like these has a wide variety of benefits for students. The most obvious benefit is the potential of internships and jobs that influence careers. These opportunities allow ACU students to get a foot in the door with companies that have competitive hiring. Another benefit is developing the discipline and networking skills necessary in the professional world. Students can practice professional development by not only signing up for the events, where they will network and learn about the professional world, but by being committed, disciplined, and following through by showing up to that event. They can also practice conversation skills and make meaningful contacts with companies.
Employees from Brazen Animation speak in a class.
In order to take advantage of these incredible opportunities and events, we advise that students take the time to read their newsletter. Once a week, COBA & SITC send out a newsletter through email that contains everything the student needs to know – special announcements, event promotions, chapel information, giveaways, and more – for the following week. In less than a minute, students can scroll through and see what is going on in the college and sign up for anything they might be interested in. We also promote events on our blog and social media, and monitoring those also helps students to take advantage of special opportunities in our college.
As a student at ACU’s College of Business Administration, we hope you will take advantage of the many professional development resources that are available to you. Be sure to read your newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest in COBA.
Trent Warren at Schriever Air Force Base.
Trent Warren is a senior business management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Trent was an intern for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. Trent worked as a systems engineer in the Experimentation Lab (X-Lab) at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Specifically, Trent worked in control account management, space system engineering, and also participated in the Lockheed Martin summer intern project.
Trent was able to grow professionally this summer because of the variety of projects he worked on and what he learned from his coworkers. He gained experience in finance, programming, and engineering because he was not limited to one type of project. He also knows that working with the brilliant people in the X-lab was key to his growth this summer. Throughout his internship, they guided Trent and challenged him to accomplish difficult but rewarding tasks.
Trent’s favorite part of his internship was working in the X-Lab. He got to work on and solve new and exciting problems. Even though he was there for a short time, Trent feels as if the work he did helped those around him and, more importantly, fulfilled the mission and values of the MDA. Trent’s experience will help launch him into a promising career in systems engineering. He discovered a lot about what it means to be an engineer and how to overcome obstacles in the job. Trent plans to take the lessons he learned this summer with him for the rest of his life.
Reflecting on his internship, Trent has three pieces of advice for future interns:
1. Push through your blockers. Whenever you get stuck on something, or whenever a task just seems too difficult to accomplish, keep attacking it from every conceivable angle. There are plenty of people that can do most of the work on a job. What makes you stand out is if you can use your resources to finish a job that no one else can figure out.
2. Write. Down. Everything. Every business has their acronyms and lingo. If you do not understand what something means in a meeting or in a conversation, write it down and ask someone later. Knowledge is power, and the first step to knowledge is writing down what you don’t know (which is usually almost everything at first).
3. Work hard for the right reason. In every business, there are people who are just working for the next promotion. Personally, I work for the people around me, for the mission of the organization, and for my God. Pick what you work for because that philosophy affects every decision you make.
Zach Fetter (’19)
Zach Fetter is a senior with majors in finance and youth ministry from Charlotte, North Carolina. This summer, Zach is an operations intern at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin. As the fiscal year starts on September 1st, leaders across the church have been building budgets for their respective ministries. Zach has met with more than fifty leaders to work through and approve their budgets in preparation for the new fiscal year. He is helping build a projection for the church’s giving numbers for the next year and will present those to the executive pastors and elders. Zach is also in charge of implementing new goal software for the staff that will lead to the improved alignment of the church’s goals from top to bottom.
Through these projects, Zach has been able to learn a lot about how the church operates and its responsibility to be faithful stewards of the money that congregants give for ministry. He has also made strong connections with those around him. Zach’s favorite part of his internship so far has been meeting with the leaders for budget reviews. “Sitting down and talking one-on-one with each leader has given me so much experience in learning how the church stewards money,” says Zach “I hope that this knowledge will help me to confidently and strategically lead a church towards fiscal responsibility one day.”
Zach has also had the opportunity to receive feedback in a job that has helped guide how he approaches his day-to-day. Every week, Zach has a one-on-one with his boss, one of the church’s executive pastors. These one-on-one meetings have grown him the most this summer, both spiritually and professionally. In those meetings, Zach is commended for what he has done well but is also guided through areas in which he can improve. Zach has taken the advice very seriously and applies it to his job and life, as he knows this feedback will help him become a better leader of a church someday.
One thing that has struck Zach in his time at Hill Country Bible Church is the wholehearted submission to God that is evident in every staff member and in the church overall. “The one thing that has been crucial to everything I have done in my internship has been a reliance on God,” says Zach. “The way that the leadership of the church relies on faith and prayer is evident.” Zach has learned that the church could not conduct their business as effectively as they do if they did not consistently give up control and wait to see what God will do through their organization. This is a principle that he believes goes beyond Hill Country Bible Church and his internship and is something that he will remember and apply when he returns to Abilene and for the rest of his life.