COBE connects students with alumni at business boot camp

The inaugural COBE Business Boot Camp brought together 27 students for two days to engage with alumni in an intense hands-on opportunity for professional development.

Days before returning to campus to begin the spring semester, a group of Radford University College of Business and Economics (COBE) majors took a couple of days away from their winter breaks to learn more about the business world from a select group of the college’s successful alumni.

The inaugural COBE Business Boot Camp brought 27 students, from freshmen to seniors, to Fairfax for two days in mid-January to engage with alumni in an intense hands-on opportunity for professional development through interactive workshops, networking/mentoring and a protocol dinner experience.

The event opened on Jan. 13 with afternoon workshops devoted to networking, communications, dressing for success and personal branding. That night, after an hour-long networking/mentoring session with alumni executives, students participated in a protocol dinner aimed at teaching proper business dining etiquette and dressing for the occasion.

Cassaday and Company, a wealth management firm owned by Radford University alumnus Stephan Cassaday ‘76, sponsored the dinner.

More workshops followed on Saturday, including a speed-dating-meets-interviewing session along with a workshop geared toward teamwork problem-solving in business. About 45 Radford University alumni participated in the event and many piloted the workshops.

One of those was alumna Denise O’Brien ‘84, who led the dress for success session.

“Radford University provided me with such a wonderful background and education that I wanted to give back to students who will soon pursue their life dreams by helping them prepare for a career in the business world,” said O’Brien, a vice president at Visa.

O’Brien said one of the most surprising outcomes of the event was learning “how excited students were to spend time with alumni.”

Freshman Mauricio Rosales said he enjoyed engaging with alumni and learning from their personal experiences.

“I learned things and received advice that I know will help me in my career and in my life for years to come,” said the management and marketing double major from Fairfax. “It was truly a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for every single student that attended, and I'm grateful for all the incredible people that made it possible.”

Following the event, students were asked for feedback to help organizers plan for next January’s boot camp. “It was all positive,” said COBE Assistant to the Dean Debbie Pauley. “Many said they would like to add a day to the event next year so they could have more time with alumni.”

The boot camp was a “tremendous success in every way,” said COBE Dean George Low.

“It involved our COBE students and alumni in meaningful professional development experiences at a high level of engagement, provided an innovative way to take our students directly to Northern Virginia where major employers and alumni are located, and resulted in life-changing conversations that have already made a positive impact on participating students,” the dean said.

Feb 22, 2017
Chad Osborne