Davis College network event “Firm Night” sees high turnout, record number of employers
Firm Night, the annual networking event that provides Radford University’s business students with opportunities to meet employers face to face, reached new highs this year.
Some 36 organizations attended the Sept. 6 event, which was sponsored by the Davis College of Business and Economics' Department of Accounting, Finance and Business Law (AFBL) and held at Kyle Hall 340.
Those three dozen prestigious employers – which included Brown Edwards, EY (Ernst & Young), Montgomery County, the National Bank, the Auditor of Public Accounts and the Internal Revenue Service, among numerous others – represented a significant jump over the event's previous high of 30 organizations, in 2018.
Not surprisingly, attendance had dipped during the pandemic, when only 14 employers took part in a virtual version of the event in 2020, and there were 20 organizations in place when the job fair resumed in-person activity last year.
Nine of the companies that attended this year's Firm Night were making their first appearances at the event.
In his address to kick off the evening, Davis College's Dean Joy Bhadury, Ph.D., deemed it "our single most important event for accounting and finance students."
Bhadury thanked the visiting representatives, telling them, "You are consumers of human capital. We are producers of human capital. And today, you are going to find some of the best specimens of human capital."
To the 81 hopeful students on hand to meet the firms, Bhadury advised: "Knock their socks off. Let them see who you are, and believe me, they will be impressed."
A senior finance major from Arlington, Virginia, Ben Anderson, was there attending for the first time.
"I would like to do something in investment analysis,” he said. “I've always liked the stock market and charting companies, price movements.”
Anderson is slated to graduate in May and brought hard copies of his resume to distribute, adding that the printed word still provides some advantages, even in the digital era.
"I found myself straying more towards paper, rather than electronic, because paper is just so much more tangible and less inflated than the amount of emails people get," he explained.
Jonathan Hubbard, a senior finance major from Poquoson, Virginia, said he was eager to network and see what the field had to offer.
"I'm an introvert, but this has been a wonderful situation for me because it forces me to come out of my shell, be assertive and put myself out there to people,” he said. “It's something that builds character, and it's a great learning experience.
"I'm more than happy to get some experience from them and learn what they have to teach me, and hopefully, I can bring something to them," Hubbard added.
Of the 78 individual recruiting representatives present, exactly half were Radford alums returning to their alma mater.
One of those was Reagan Elkins ’19, who previously attended Firm Night as both a junior and a senior and now works as a tax associate at the certified public accounting firm of Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC, in Kingsport, Tennessee.
"When I got the opportunity to join recruitment at our firm, we didn't recruit at Radford. I said, 'We've got to go to Radford, we've got to meet Radford students,’” Elkins recalled, and indeed they did.
"Radford's accounting program is top-notch, and I don't just say that as an alum," she said. "The professors here are tried and true professionals. They've been in the industry, and they know how to teach the subjects."
Another Highlander coming back to recruit was Audra Shekleton ’04, now an assurance partner at EY in Richmond, Virginia, who said her academic career occurred just before Firm Night was created.
As a student during the early 2000s, she’d had to travel to a fair at another university to find the kind of networking opportunities that Firm Night now allows Radford students to find just across their own campus.
“It has been great to see the growth of Firm Night over the last 10 years that I have been attending on behalf of EY,” she said. “Both the number and breadth of firms represented has significantly increased, as well as the students’ preparation for the event.”
She sees Firm Night as a mutually beneficial entity.
“It gives the students opportunities to meet with a lot of different firms at once and gives them exposure to network with the firms that they are most interested in,” Shekleton said. “And as a prospective employer, it is a great way to get to know a high volume of students quickly and answer their questions.”