Thirty-eight students from the Arkansas Tech University School of Business kicked off their fall 2022 semester by participating in a Project Lead seminar on Sunday, August 14.
Highlights included team building exercises with Dr. Phillip McClure, a Fort Smith-based facilitator and speaker, and a message on identifying and capitalizing on personal strengths from Michele McWilliams, an Arkansas Tech alumna with 25 years of experience in education and multiple certifications in coaching leaders, individuals , teams and organizations.
Project Lead is made possible by a grant from the Loyd Foundation, which has made a five-year commitment to the initiative.
“I was nervous going in today,” said Megan Christensen, ATU freshman from Alma and Project Lead participant. “I didn’t know anyone who came to be here. Once I got here, I sat down with a group of people and started talking. It’s the beginning of making those connections, meeting people who can help, and knowing that there are people out there for you.
Christensen, who became a real estate agent at age 18, will major in business data analytics at Arkansas Tech.
“I like numbers,” Christensen said. “Long term, I want to do process improvement and project management from the business side for a manufacturing company. My mom was an engineer, so I was always around engineering growing up. I’d like to be involved in that, but from a business perspective.”
ATU freshman Alexis Lara’s business interests are in sales. She and Christensen met and became friends during the project manager seminar.
“I love talking to people,” said Lara, who is from Maumelle and plans to major in marketing. “The older I got, the more I realized how much I love people and talking to them.”
Lara discovered early on that ATU was a place where she found her form.
“I loved Arkansas Tech when I came to visit,” Lara said. “I looked at a few other colleges, but I just knew … I came here and I literally love this place. It’s a great city. I’m really big on personal connections. The more connections you have, the more successful you can be. That it’s what you need to get places.”
Jad Salaita was also among the Project Lead seminar participants. A native of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Salaita earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from ATU and is beginning her pursuit of ATU’s Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in business data analytics this fall.
“I liked how interactive everyone was,” Salaita said when asked about the project leader. “The engagement and energy was great. I gained a lot of knowledge about interviews and how to ask questions, and I feel like my communication skills improved a lot.”
Project Lead was conceived by Kathy and Randy Loyd of the Loyd Foundation and Dr. Russ Jones, dean of the ATU College of Business and Economic Development, as a way to help business students at Arkansas Tech connect better among them.
Jones expressed gratitude to the Lloyds for their investment of resources and energy in the Project Lead.
“The key thing we focused on all day was commitment,” Jones said. “Don’t just go to class and then go back to your residence. The ATU School of Business is very lucky because we have an activity for students every Wednesday, for nine months. It ranges from guest speakers to building a resume to dressing for success… all of those things.”
ATU School of Business senior student ambassadors will now be paired with first-year Project Lead participants. Funding is provided for networking lunches, which allow older students to share their wisdom and knowledge with younger students.
“When these upperclassmen enter the business world and these freshmen become upperclassmen,” Jones said, “the upperclassmen will reach out to alumni and ask them what classes they would like to have fact and what they wish they had known before entering the class. the workplace. These seniors can then reach out to the freshmen and let them know what they need to prepare for. The idea is have contacts where you are going who have followed the same path as you and are willing to share what they have learned”.
After her first day in the program, Christensen already felt connected to this mission.
“I loved learning how to communicate better,” Christensen said. “That’s something I struggled with when I was younger. I’ve always been very shy. Learning how to open up and lead conversations… a lot of times conversations can be awkward. Learning how to lead a conversation and make it an effective conversation it is very important.
“I really like the idea of being completely aware,” Christensen continued. “Know your strengths, know your weaknesses and learn to make your weaknesses your strengths. There are so many things I can work on and there are people (at Arkansas Tech) who can help me and give me good insight.”
Learn more about the ATU School of Business at www.atu.edu/business.
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