While many students long for the excitement of faraway places, you don’t have to look far from home for a valuable internship. For junior business management major Berkley Bruckner, this was exactly the case. Located in her hometown of Amarillo, TX, Fairly Group gave her the opportunity to enhance her career development, prepare her for difficult hiring scenarios, and strengthen her confidence in both decision-making and communications with like-minded professionals. The Fairly Group is a risk consulting firm advising clients throughout the United States and in over 100 countries in several business segments including corporate risk, human capital and benefits, and a broad array of risk consulting specialties. They are also the largest insurance broker in the Texas Panhandle.
Berkley was able to intern alongside the HR Director and learn first-hand the daily processes of human resources. “I was mainly a part of the hiring process for Fairly group and their sister company Occunet. I would look at resumes people would send in to the company website or I would go to Indeed and look for potential people to hire. I would also schedule interviews with the HR director and had the opportunity to sit in on the first initial phone interview with prospective job candidates.” This enabled her to put into practice what she had been learning about hiring new employees, including bias-free interviewing processes. Berkley also was included in a workshop that helped her gain more perspective on empathy for her co-workers.
“I participated in a workshop while interning for this company and it was one of the greatest lessons I learned. It was about having an outward mindset and how to always try and take into consideration the people around us. Even if we have conflicts or get frustrated with our coworkers, we never know what they are going through so we should try and be open minded and empathetic towards them and not try to retaliate against them.” Not only did Berkley learn about the strategic and logistical processes of working in Human Resource Management, she was also able to gain insight on the relational side of working with and for other people.
Like many other companies, the pandemic has been an agent of change for the workplace for the Fairly Group. This gave Berkley the opportunity to be in an in-person work environment while learning how to include and be intentional with the company’s remote employees. “I would say that almost 25% of the company was working virtually, and this was an initial challenge to work collaboratively with them and stay in contact, but I grew in this area tremendously.”
Berkley’s experiences in COBA prepared her to take on the workload of this internship through purposeful classes, connections with faculty and staff, and her involvement with the ACU Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. In addition to COBA classes, she has been involved in Freshmen Follies, Sing Song, Delta Theta, and has been a mentor group leader for Wildcat Week. Her involvement on campus gave her the practice she needed to connect with future employers. She advises future interns to “try and get to know as many people as you can in the company you intern for and connect with them on LinkedIn. They could be great connections to have in the future when you go into your career and pursue bigger opportunities.”
Through her internship, Berkley was able to put into action the lessons she has learned in the classroom and through her SHRM on how to recruit potential job candidates, communicate effectively with co-workers, and step outside of her comfort zone to further develop her leadership qualities. And not only did she gain invaluable experience in a work environment very new to her, she was able to spend the summer in her hometown – the best of both worlds. If you are a student looking for help with an internship or job preparation or searches, contact COBA’s Professional Development Manager, Steph Brown at email@example.com.
Student leaders across campus display ACU’s mission daily through their academic excellence, Christian service and leadership on our campus. Every year, students like these are nominated by their academic department and from those nominations, fifty scholars are selected by the ACU Faculty Senate to receive the University Scholars Award for their graduating class. Among these fifty scholars who demonstrated outstanding scholarship by maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher, earned 90 hours towards their degree, and pursued knowledge in their research field, are four students from the College of Business Administration. The students who received this year’s award are Allie Sorrells, Bryce Adams, Jessica Herrera and Luke Stevens.
Allie Sorrells is an accounting and management major from Waco, TX. During her time on campus, Allie enjoyed participating and creating long-lasting memories in ACU traditions like Sing Song, the Homecoming Parade, Freshman Follies, and Candlelight Devo. Allie has been an active member of the Honors College, Beta Gamma Sigma and the women’s social club Ko Jo Kai, where she served as treasurer this past academic year. Allie also served as project lead for the Enactus Children’s Business Fair through the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy. Among her favorite activities while at ACU was the opportunity to study abroad in Oxford with the College of Business Administration. While there, they visited the manufacturing plant of BMW and Porsche and participated in an extensive project with ASDA. “With ASDA, we analyzed the company’s business process at multiple locations and came up with our own solutions and improvements. We then shared these ideas with the corporate employees in a professional business presentation. Through that experience, we learned how to go about preparing for and giving formal presentations while incorporating what we were learning in class,” Sorrells stated. Allie commends her professors for bringing their industry expertise to the classroom, speaking from real-world experience and a place of faith, while preparing students to enter the world as ethical businessmen/women. With this faith and business incorporation in mind, Allie hopes to start graduate school, complete her CPA exams, and eventually work in corporate accounting or supply chain management. As she wraps up her time at ACU, Allie says, “I am very grateful for my time here at ACU and in COBA. It’s been a really special experience and I wouldn’t trade the past few years for the world. If you have not plugged in, find an organization in COBA, at ACU, or in the general community to become a part of. Also, get to know your professors; they can become some of your biggest advocates and supporters.”
Bryce Adams is a financial management major from Dallas, TX. Coming from a family of ACU Wildcats, Bryce was drawn to the academic excellence that this university strives. “The quality of ACU’s business school really sealed the deal for me,” Adams said. As a student at the College of Business Administration, Bryce has enjoyed opportunities like Leadership Summit, a week-long course in January where his perspective on life and business was transformed. Additionally, the advice and guidance of business alumni who visited the ACU campus have served as motivation for Bryce. “I think COBA has instilled values that are nestled within the education that are more important than the actual education. You can get an education anywhere; COBA certainly educates you but, if you let it, it will give you principles that serve you for life beyond business,” Bryce added. Besides being involved in his department as a member of Heacock Scholars, he serves as an Apartment Leader for World’s Backyard, where he seeks to share the Gospel while growing in relationship with the kids he serves and creating a long-lasting impact in their lives. As someone who has decided to give full control to the Lord, Bryce says, “Anything I’ve achieved is through God’s grace and provision. He deserves the accolades, not me. If you have any business ideas you’re thinking about or you just want to talk about the Lord, let’s grab coffee.”
Jessica Herrera is an accounting major with a minor in mathematics from Schertz, TX. After pursuing her dream of receiving an education that incorporated Christianity, she arrived at ACU where she was immediately impacted by prayers and scripture readings by her professors during class sessions. Her involvement on campus includes being a member of the women’s social club Delta Theta and W-Club, a group of women joined by academic excellence. After taking advantage of professional development opportunities such as “Meet the Firm Night”, a networking event with different accounting firms, she is planning on enrolling in the MAcc program with hopes to land a job in one of the Big 4 accounting firms. She attributes her preparedness for the future to those professors who have invested in her education and the professional development that guided her career aspirations for the future. “ACU is such a great school and I feel that I have grown exponentially in my faith and education in the few years that I have been here. I have had a great college experience by taking advantage of the many opportunities and activities that ACU has available to its students,” Jessica shared.
Luke Stevens is a marketing major from Montgomery, TX. Luke came to ACU seeking a high-quality education that was accompanied by a Christian foundation, “ I didn’t want to compromise on my conviction to be educated in this way and ACU offered the perfect opportunity to pursue my desire for a Christian education,” Stevens said. During his time at ACU, Luke participated as Junior Class Treasurer for the Student Government Association, worked for the College of Business Administration as a student worker and served as project lead for the Enactus Brainstorming Committee. Besides his involvement with student organizations, Luke was able to attend Leadership Summit and feel the support of faculty and staff in his department who helped him advance his career opportunities. When asked what his favorite thing about his time at ACU was, Luke said, “My favorite thing about COBA is the relationships I made there. I have made lifelong friends with fellow business students and will always be grateful for their influence on my education and spiritual growth. The faculty and staff are simply exceptional. They care about quality education, exemplify ethical leadership, and have a sincere desire to see you succeed. I certainly consider several of the faculty and staff at COBA to be my mentors and friends.” Luke is planning to attend Southern Methodist University in the fall to complete a Master of Science in Business Analytics in the fall. As he leaves ACU until his next visit, Luke says, “My time as a business student at ACU has changed my life in drastic ways. Some people might pass through college and 10 years later not be able recall what they learned or people they met. For me, I know I will never forget the family I became a part of at ACU and what they taught me.”
Zach Jennings is a Management major from Abilene, Texas and graduated in December 2019. Zach interned with Edward Jones this last summer. “I learned the basics of what it takes to be a financial advisor. I got to work with other offices and two other interns in town. There were about 200 interns nationwide, so having even one intern in Abilene was awesome, but we had three!”
As Zach prepared for graduation, he also prepared to begin work with Edward Jones as a financial advisor. He says, “I believe my time at ACU helped me find out what I wanted to do moving forward. Not only did it prepare me for my future career, but I grew so much in my relationship with God because of the wonderful people here.” Zach found that he wanted a career with Edward Jones after his experience as an intern and is looking forward to the great opportunities laid before him.
Zach enjoyed his college career at ACU. We asked him what his favorite thing about being a part of COBA was and how the environment influenced his growth throughout his time here. “My favorite thing about COBA was attending Leadership Summit. I grew a lot in the Lord and made so many good friendships as well. It was a refreshing and soul-quenching experience. I would say that ACU offers not only some of the best education programs out there, but what makes ACU great is the community. You actually get to know your professors and you’ll realize they want to get to know you too. The community of ACU is welcoming, inclusive and Christ-like. The people here are what sets ACU apart from the rest.”
Helping students find how their gifts and talents can be used for God in the workplace is something COBA is passionate about. For those students who aren’t sure what career path they want to take, COBA and ACU provide exploration through the COBA Edge professional development program and the guidance offered at the Career Center. To learn more about the COBA Edge program, students can email Steph Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can also learn more about internships, interviewing, and career search information by reading the COBA student newsletter, looking through Handshake, or contacting Steph Brown or the ACU Career Center.
Aimee Agee is COBA’s Professional Development Manager for Business and Technology students. She works continuously with students to equip them with the skills and knowledge to successfully launch into the professional world. This includes meeting one-on-one with students to discuss their job and internship opportunities and outcomes, connecting them with employers who fit their skills and needs, and analyzing data on each student graduating while remaining in contact with them in their post-grad life. Aimee also conducts class insertions where she discusses specific careers with employers as well as more general information about interviews, resumes, networking, and more. Agee supplied the coaching and leadership needed to help COBA’s business and technology students improve their outcomes this year. Her hard work and excellence in developing and communicating with students has impacted COBA graduates’ academic and professional careers positively.
We are pleased to announce that the B.B.A. programs’ overall outcomes have moved beyond our stated goal of 90%. 93% of our May graduating class received either a job offer or an acceptance into a graduate program within ninety days of graduation. Achieving this rate gives us a past-four-year average of 90.18 %. The average starting salary for our B.B.A. students was $41,497. The School of Information and Technology had a very strong bump in employment, especially from Digital Entertainment Technology graduates. SITC had a 100% outcome rate of students with a job offer or acceptance to a graduate program. This includes their international students and again exceeds the target of 90%. The average starting salary for SITC graduates was $57,600. COBA saw 100% of the students in the Master of Accountancy program employed within ninety days of graduation. The average starting salary for MAcc graduates was $55,000.
Learn more about COBA’s Professional Development Program for current students and alumni at the links listed or by going to www.acu.edu/coba.
What is your educational background?
I attended Hardin Simmons University and majored in Mass Media and minored in Spanish. I am currently finishing my masters in higher education with a certification in Conflict Resolution & Mediation. I will graduate December 2015!
What is your work background?
I started my career with Hendrick Medical Center as their marketing coordinator. I worked for the physicians that were not employed with the hospital and were an independent branch of Hendrick called Hendrick Provider Network. My main role was to travel to the rural communities outside of Abilene and market our services of internal medicine, endocrinology, sleep therapy, and hand therapy/reconstruction to the physicians that were in our network. I worked with HMC marketing for several years and assisted with the development of the MedSpa at Hendrick where I served as the primary patient consultant as well as their marketing coordinator. I have worked in several departments at Hendrick Medical Center and I still teach classes at Hendrick Health Club that include Body Jam and Attack. Little known fact: I was also certified as a Stott Pilates instructor!
What do you do at COBA?
I currently serve as the Career Development Advisor for COBA and SITC.
What drew you to work at ACU? Why did you want to work with students?
Coming from the field of marketing with an emphasis in health care, I was ready to challenge myself with a change. Originally, I had no ties to ACU but once I went through the interview process I fell in love with the community. My gut told me I had made the right choice. I wanted to work with students because I love the atmosphere of learning and academics.
What’s the best part of working with students?
The best part about working with students is building relationships with them. Student development through a holistic approach is best described as social learning theory and the focus on how the individual acquires new ideas, behaviors, and new cognitive content. James Fowler’s first three stages of Faith Development: conventional stage, individual reflection, and faith developments can adhere to the experience and theory of students questioning their beliefs and values. These steps were integrated into theory to help illustrate the foundation of questioning a student’s transition into individual self-awareness. Working with students as they grow and develop is such a unique experience that I am so blessed to be a part of.
Samantha hosted COBA students at the Hispanic Unidos banquet held at ACU last month.
Outside of ACU, what passions and hobbies do you have?
You can never have enough hobbies! I may not be a master at any of them but I will always try something new. Currently, I have taken up boxing lessons. I have a trainer and we work on sparring and kick boxing. I also enjoy painting when I have the time. I started playing the guitar two years ago….it has been a slow process. I love to cook but I am a healthy eater so Paleo is right up my alley. I love to run and I have completed two half-marathons. I love to be outside; camping, hiking, caving and rock climbing. An annual tradition I have is to attend ACL… here I come Billy Idol! I am passionate about living life with family and great friends; Carpe Diem!
Do you do any charity or non-profit work?
I am a member of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Red Coats. I also am a member of the Young Professionals of Abilene through the Chamber of Commerce. I am an annual volunteer for Cancer Service’s Fashions for a Cure style show. I also volunteer at the Abilene Food Bank and Global Samaritan. I occasionally volunteer at the animal shelter.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
To know every language in the world; I want to be like Nicholas Cage in the City of Angels.
What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?
The smell of cucumbers and watermelon make me nauseated.
ACU will welcome the first class of its online MBA program this fall. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brad Crisp, COBA’s Associate Dean for Graduate Business, to learn more about the new program.
Why is ACU launching a Master of Business Administration program?
We offered a residential MBA for most of the 1980s and 90s, but it was difficult to attract the number of students that we wanted to serve in Abilene. With the launch of ACU Dallas, ACU is better equipped to serve graduate students through online programs. We now have the opportunity to reach a new market of graduate students who are established in their careers, yet wanting to be challenged and have the opportunity to grow professionally. The online MBA is the perfect vehicle for allowing them to continue their careers and attain their educational goals.
What is the focus of the curriculum?
The MBA curriculum is designed to equip students in four key areas:
- leadership skills that will enable them to lead in their career, but also in their homes, churches, and communities
- organizational innovation that prepares them to meet new opportunities
- decision-making that engages data available in today’s tech-driven workplace
- the ability to let faith and ethical principles guide their work
What role is COBA faculty playing in the creation of this program?
COBA faculty in Abilene designed the program and have played an important role in the development of the core courses that will be taken by all students. Additionally, some of the courses will be taught by our Abilene faculty, while other courses will be led by qualified faculty in Dallas and elsewhere.
How is graduate education different from undergraduate education?
Education ideally helps us think about theory and practice, that is, how we combine great ideas with implementation. One of the key differences in graduate education is that the adult learner has a greater amount of work experience to connect with the learning. Having an environment where students can bring their work experience into class discussions and on assignments is a key component of a professional program like the MBA. That is why I encourage students to work for a couple of years before making the transition to graduate education, because the knowledge gained in industry adds a great deal of depth to their graduate experience.
What excites you about the launch of this new program?
Most ACU faculty come to Abilene to teach the traditional undergraduate student, and we are excited to help students in that stage of their formation. Now we have decided that we aren’t stopping there. We have the chance to connect with adults in the next phase of their lives as they’ve grown in their careers, their communities, and their families. We have the opportunity to serve them in another important stage of their life, as they are learning where faith intersects with work and life.
For more information on ACU’s online MBA program, visit www.acu.edu/mba.