Written by special contributor Lance Fleming
It only takes a few seconds of studying the mission of ACU’s College of Business Administration (COBA) to discern that the holistic development of its students is as important as anything else that goes on in the Mabee Business Building.
Dr. Andy Little and students during their Study Abroad trip to Montevideo last summer.
The first point of the mission statement is “holistic student learning and development.” That part of the mission goes on to say that ACU “seeks spiritual, academic, and professional growth over the life of each student through exemplary teaching, experiential learning, and relationships with Christian faculty, professional staff, and engaged alumni.”
It’s all part of equipping the next generation of global leaders with all the tools necessary to be successful in their homes, in their places of worship, in their communities, and in their places of work.
“While great teaching is essential to what we do, we want to emphasize how our students learn and develop both inside and outside the classroom,” said Dr. Brad Crisp, Dean of the College of Business Administration. “That is why we are partnering with the university in the design and implementation of the Compass initiative.”
The Compass initiative begins with a customized roadmap showing the key experiences the student can choose during their time at ACU. Then, they can utilize the Compass app or website to gain access to badges and activities that they can pursue at the appropriate times during their journey. The student will also have a record of their co-curricular experiences during their time at ACU and within COBA.
Crisp and Derran Reese – Director of Experiential Learning – presented this initiative at the Suitable conference last summer in Philadelphia where ACU Compass won two awards: Highest Student Engagement (91% engagement rate) and The Distinguished Program Award. Suitable provides the technology platform supporting the Compass initiative. Reese said Compass was designed to help students engage in various activities and experiences that help them grow in various ways: intellectually, spiritually, professionally, etc.
“We must think about creating an integrated student experience,” Reese said. “Designing curricular and co-curricular activities should be intentional, and we need to communicate to students that these activities all contribute to their holistic development. That is why we designed Compass.”
Leadership Summit 2020 attendees (a program of the Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership).
Compass, however, is about more than the teaching that goes on in the classroom. It is about merging different experiences into the classroom, engaging students in projects and internships, and providing opportunities for them to lead in student organizations, etc. It’s about bringing in speakers and employers, going on Study Abroad trips, and participating in the Griggs Center or Lytle Center. It’s not just what is done inside the classroom.
“We have a BBA badge for our pre-business students and are working on reformatting the professional development badge and including a Lytle Center badge,” said M.C. Jennings, Student Engagement and Marketing Manager for COBA. “We want students to be able to keep track of all of their accomplishments and have a portfolio that they will be able to share with future employers that show all of the things they were involved in (Study Abroad, speakers, special projects), holds their resume and cover letter, has academic accomplishments, etc. Eventually, we hope to have more class assignments tied to Compass through Canvas. This is a tool that will enable students to track their academic, professional, personal, and spiritual growth throughout their time at ACU.”
And all of this is part of the holistic learning environment being fostered in COBA, an environment that is necessary for students preparing to enter the world away from ACU.
Dr. Matt Deeg takes students out of the regular classroom to learn about HR in a more interactive setting.
“Excellence is demanded of our graduates upon graduation,” said Tim Johnston, Assistant Dean of COBA. “Professors have the tough task of teaching to a high standard and evaluating a student’s ability to complete the assignments to standard. At ACU, our class size and Christian mission make the learning experience very personal. Striking the balance between objective assessment and personal care for an individual student is complex. Our professional development program and alumni connections help support the need for a student to achieve learning excellence.”
But, Reese said, that learning excellence must now include many different facets than might have been required even as few as five years ago.
“Today education is more holistic, and the responsibility of a university – particularly a Christian university – is to help form the whole student. That means that curriculum and pedagogy matter, and additional equipping of students with professional and life skills is vital. Expanding their awareness of diverse cultures and peoples, while developing the type of character that will enhance their careers and bless the world are challenges we address with focused intentionality.”
COBA Alums who work at Southwest Airlines recently came to discuss internship opportunities at the company with COBA students. Pictured from left to right are Chris Grubbs (’95), Kristy Ng (’20), Baron Smith (’09), Bethani Culpepper (’19), and Katie Coldwell (’00).
Written by special contributor Lance Fleming
When the College of Business Administration (COBA) unveiled the most significant changes to its curricula in decades, one area of great emphasis was professional development. Those studying the updates and later making the recommendations believed a professional internship would help make COBA students more well-rounded prospective employees when they left ACU.
As Dr. Brad Crisp, the Dean of the College of Business Administration said recently, “… we are placing greater emphasis on professional development by requiring a professional internship in management, marketing, and information systems and offering an internship as an option for accounting and finance majors.”
As the person serving as the director of professional development and internships for COBA, Jasmine McCabe-Gossett said the new emphasis on internships will help make students better equipped to handle real-world practices that they will face when they begin working full-time.
“Students need to take advantage of the unique timing internships can offer,” said McCabe-Gossett, who is in her first year as the Professional Development and Internship Director for COBA. “Students have the distinct opportunity to apply what can feel like abstract theories and case studies to the real world. Internships are insulated and allow students to practice in an environment designed for them to ask questions and fail, whereas, post-graduate opportunities can be far less forgiving.”
Tim Johnston, the Assistant Dean for COBA, said a student who participates in an internship program in college will have a distinct advantage over students who don’t take advantage of those programs.
“Many years ago, with the contraction of the economy, many students were entering college without a lot of summer work experience,” Johnston said. “One of the top qualities all employers like to access is work ethic. Without a lot of work experience, it was difficult to feel confident about a student’s ability to dig-in and work hard. Many large organizations started internship programs.
“These programs typically run for 12 weeks during the summer,” he said. “Most are paid and it’s a way for a company to have a long and intense look at the candidates. Many companies only offer full-time opportunities to those students who have completed an internship with their organization. So for many large firms, this is the path into their company.”
When a student is looking for an internship, COBA Associate Dean Andy Little said one thing stands above all when he advises a student on a potential position.
“Fit,” he said succinctly. “In other words, does this organization fit your values and the goals you have set for yourself? Will you get practical experience? What kind of people work there? Is it an industry or market segment that you would like to start your career in?”
McCabe-Gossett agrees that finding an internship in a potential career field is an essential part of finding the right landing spot.
“I encourage students to focus on finding an internship in the industry they imagine as their future career,” she said. “Doing so will allow them to fully immerse themselves so they can determine whether or not their dream industry aligns with their values, work style, etc.”
The National Association of Colleges and Employers has surveyed employers and determined the following qualities are most important to the potential employers surveyed. In order of importance, those qualities are:
- Problem-solving (critical thinking)
- Teamwork / collaboration
- Professionalism / work ethic
- Verbal and written communication skills
- Digital technology capabilities
- Global / multicultural fluency
“We want our students to demonstrate these competencies and reflect on their current areas of strength and areas where growth is needed,” Johnston said. “Their internship manager completes a formal evaluation that provides feedback on these key qualities.
“Another key advantage we are looking to provide for ACU students is an opportunity to intern with ACU alumni,” he said. “Our alumni teach students how professional excellence provides another avenue to honor God, as we serve in the marketplace.”
If you’d like to know more about internships with COBA, as either an employer or a student, email email@example.com.
Written by special contributor Lance Fleming
The College of Business Administration (COBA) recently undertook what Dr. Brad Crisp considers “the most significant change to business curricula at ACU in at least three decades” with revisions to the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) majors.
Those changes include updates to the core requirements for all business majors and to the major requirements for each business major, including an analytics track available within each major. The process that was undertaken was extensive and lasted a few years, including input from the COBA Dean’s Council, Visiting Committees, and other external stakeholders.
The members of each of those committees and groups were looking at in-depth benchmarking, analysis, and solution alternatives identified by the BBA Task Force. Those committees undertook extensive discussions on a wide range of proposals from the faculty task force, which was formed in early 2019 and delivered its recommendations later that fall. After the committees did their work, the changes were approved last spring by faculty and administrators at all levels of the university.
The goal of the core revision largely focused on faith and ethics, analytics and technology, and professional development.
“Faith and ethics are central to our identity as a Christian university,” said Dr. Crisp, the Dean of the College of Business Administration, “and we added some ethics content to a required business law course. All business majors will now take a two-course sequence in analytics and can choose a nine-hour or more track in analytics. Finally, we are placing greater emphasis on professional development by requiring a professional internship in management, marketing, and information systems and offering an internship as an option for accounting and finance majors.”
Photo by Jeremy Enlow
Those recommendations and changes are part of COBA keeping up with the pace of change that is currently being seen in the business world, said Andy Little, associate dean for COBA and associate professor of Business Law.
“The pace of change in the business world – and society in general – necessitates some level of change in two dimensions: first within a specific course, faculty need to stay up to date with new developments; and second, from time to time, the curriculum in general needs to be evaluated and potentially updated,” Little said. “It’s easy for most faculty to update specific courses on a regular basis. I’ve added three new readings to my introductory law class, all of which deal with recent developments in the legislature.
“Maybe more clearly, a course like Digital Marketing requires near-constant revision, just to keep up with all the changes in how people and companies use platforms to market products and services,” he said. “To a certain extent, the velocity of change works in favor of a stable curriculum: foundational subjects like Accounting, Economics, and Statistics need to be included in every iteration of a core curriculum over time because those are the building blocks on which much of the business enterprise rests.”
Every major was reviewed and now has more market aligned pathways giving students more direction and professional guidance as they look toward their future profession. As the business world evolves, COBA is continually looking for ways to prepare students both inside and outside of the classroom. We do this through holistic student development, offering foundational business courses and major specific tracks, and including ethics in our offerings. This combination helps us strive to produce graduates who honor God and bless the world.
To learn more about the College of Business at ACU, click here.
Written by special contributor Lance Fleming
It hasn’t taken long for Regi and Jasmine McCabe-Gossett to ingrain themselves into the community of Abilene. The two ACU graduates – Regi in 2009 and Jasmine in 2010 – have become a vital part of the fabric of the city, each serving on boards and committees to help direct the future of Abilene, and each helping charities, foundations, and businesses in the city raise money.
Yet despite having spent the last three-plus years as the Donor Services Director for the Community Foundation of Abilene, something was drawing Jasmine back “home” to ACU. And that draw is why she returned to campus this summer, leaving the Community Foundation to become the new Professional Development and Internship Director in the College of Business Administration.
“I’ve always had a connection to ACU; it’s where I earned my undergraduate degree, where I met the love of my life, and where I started my professional career,” she said. “Over the years, my involvement with COBA has continued to grow and evolve having served as a guest speaker, sat on the COBA Alumni Visiting Committee, and even teaching classes as an adjunct professor. Working with and teaching students has always been a sweet spot for me.”
But it wasn’t until she was in the process of interviewing for the new role that she truly understood that she was being called back to ACU.
“During the interview process, I unearthed Welcome Week pictures from my freshman year and felt a rush of emotions,” Jasmine said. “There were so many amazing experiences during my time at ACU that ultimately impacted the trajectory of my professional career.”
“I am forever grateful to those that invested their time in me sharing candid advice, empowering me to think outside of the box, and inspiring me to explore a career I never knew existed,” she said. “I am excited to serve and share key insights with COBA students as they prepare for this next season of their professional lives.”
And so, she finds herself back on campus, back in the building where she worked toward her Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management, and back where she launched a career that has seen her go from Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas to Hendrick Medical Center to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital to the Community Foundation. Each of those stops – where she’s done everything from human resources to writing business service plans to the creation of leadership and development programs to helping raise millions of dollars – has helped shape who she is as she begins her work at ACU.
At ACU, she will be executing the professional development program, directing all aspects of the internship program, and will serve as a member of the Holistic Student Development Team. She’ll truly be helping shape the futures of students each year.
“This job is truly the convergence of all the things I am passionate about: building relationships, coaching, mentoring, and teaching,” Jasmine said. “I’m looking forward to helping center COBA as an epicenter for top new graduate talent. I am also looking forward to building a pipeline for COBA alumni to connect with and mentor undergraduate students.”
“I can certainly attribute much of my career success to those that came before me and made a concerted effort to pay it forward,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the ripple effect that will continue after students graduate from COBA.”
Neither she nor her husband, Regi, are from Abilene. However, they decided to stay in the city after graduating from ACU and have taken their love of the community and turned themselves into a powerful team. Jasmine currently serves on eight boards, while Regi has served on six boards and in 2020 was named one of Abilene’s Top 20 Under 40.
“The decision we made to put down roots here has been both motivating and rewarding,” Jasmine said. “Serving on nonprofit boards, in our church, etc., allows us to actively contribute to the exciting changes we want to see. We are honored to serve however we can.”
And it’s that heart for service and the love of building key connections that Jasmine hopes to pass on to the students she’ll be guiding at ACU.
“Much of my career has centered on building key connections both in the community and within organizations,” Jasmine said. “I’ve had the opportunity to both connect employee candidates to career opportunities they desire and philanthropists to community causes they are passionate about. Maintaining this theme of connection, the intersection of my experiences will allow me to connect students to career opportunities while also sharing key insights with students eager to learn how to authentically live out their faith in the workplace and beyond.”
COBA is excited to have Jasmine at the professional development helm. To learn more about the College of Business Administration and professional development, click here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever heard the saying “getting a view from 50,000 feet?” Isabella Maradiaga, senior marketing and graphic design major from Tegucigalpa, Honduras quite literally did just that. Last summer, Isabella completed an internship as a Junior Design Intern with Chicago based independent global brand consultant and creative agency, 50,000feet. As their website describes, 50,000feet “develops integrated experiences for the world’s most respected brands.”
Maradiaga was able to spend part of her internship at the agency in Chicago while also working remotely. She worked alongside disciplinary teams to develop and support client brands as well as assisting designers and creative directors on a daily basis using software like Adobe Creative Suite, Figma, and MailChimp. Additionally, she contributed in client and agency initiatives through strategic exploration and design assets.
In this role, Maradiaga was able to see how her double major could be integrated into her future work saying, “Pursuing a dual degree in college has been a challenging process. Through this internship, I was able to see how strategic business concepts merge with the creative practice of graphic design. My position as Junior Design Intern was an opportunity to narrow the career path I’m choosing post-graduation. Most importantly, I experienced a work environment that I can only aspire to have in the future. Designers, developers, writers, and all team members collaborate for a shared vision. The people at 50,000feet inspired and motivated me, and I am beyond thankful for the experience they provided.”
Some of the greatest lessons that Isabella learned during her internship were centered on creativity in the business world. “Creativity looks diﬀerent for everyone. I honestly believe that we have mistakenly identiﬁed creatives as the people who pursue careers in art and design alone. There is creativity in design. There is creativity in strategy. There is creativity in business.”
Internships often give students experience and insight that they can take into their future careers. Isabella was no exception. “This internship exposed me to the agency environment that I desire to be in after graduation. I learned more than I could have imagined during the three months of this internship. Now, I can say with conﬁdence that I plan to pursue a career in brand consulting/management.”
A great internship helps students grow and mature as they are stretched beyond what they have learned in the classroom. Isabella’s experience tested her in new ways. “Learning requires an abundance of humility. The College of Business has done an outstanding job at providing opportunities and courses that prepare students for their careers. However, putting all four years of education into practice is challenging. Starting any kind of job means developing new skills, adapting to an environment, understanding company culture, and many other learning opportunities. Approaching new seasons with humility is vital to our personal and professional growth. Most importantly, it is with this same humility that we should approach others as they begin their careers.”
Maradiaga has some advice for students as they look for their own internships. “Don’t be limited by the job postings you see online. Just because you don’t see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I contacted numerous agencies that were not actively hiring for internships and heard back from most of them. Whether they have open positions or not, you are already making yourself available. Do your research, ﬁnd companies you love, and pursue them intentionally.”
Isabella takes a “first day at work” pic
Isabella felt well prepared for her internship as she became involved with COBA’s professional development program and did her part to grow and develop herself by becoming involved on campus. “The professional development opportunities at ACU are endless. This place provides experiences that most people don’t get until they are out of school. Besides the academic excellence that is provided in the College of Business, I’ve beneﬁted from many roles at ACU that have shaped my work ethic. During my time at ACU, I’ve served as Vice-President for the International Students Association, President of the American Marketing Association, Marketing Director for the Student Government Association, Design Director for Ko Jo Kai, President of Wildcat Ventures, and student ambassador for the College of Business Administration. All of these experiences have been crucial to my growth as a Christian professional.”
Inspired by “the standard of excellence that we communally pursue” at ACU, Isabella says that the glory belongs to God. “The Lord truly deserves all the glory for every opportunity, experience, and achievement in life. He’s been gracious at placing me in the right place, at the right time.”
Current and prospective students can learn more about the professional development program in the College of Business by contacting Steph Brown at email@example.com.