TROY alumnus Shannon Collins shook a few hands and headed over to the table where Greek sandwiches were being served for lunch before finding a seat at circular table in Harrison Room on the Dothan Campus.
Others – about 70 representatives of companies with operations in and near Dothan – were doing the same thing, getting ready to hear from the Sorrell College of Business about opportunities to create internships for business students.
The roundtable featured a panel of students and business leaders and was moderated by Dr. Carmen Lewis, associate dean of the Sorrell College on the Dothan Campus, economics professor Dr. Lane Boyte-Eckis and Professor of Practice Stan Blankenship, who served as master of ceremonies.
“As an alumnus, it’s important to me to be able to develop a relationship with my alma mater, to support the school and the Sorrell College,” Collins said. “We are trying to grow our business, and putting together a formal intern program is one avenue we’re wanting to use to involve qualified, business school individuals in our business.”
“An internship program,” he said, “not only gives us a better idea of the direction of growth we need but also provides practical, real-world experience to the students.”
Collins’ company, Dothan-based ScreenTech, manufactures custom screen-printed and embroidered apparel and conducts business in the K-12 scholastic and collegiate markets in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. It has collegiate souvenir and novelty concessions that began with the University of Alabama in 1998, Auburn University in 2004 and currently contracts with Troy University and the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
“The roundtable event was very well organized and very informative, and it gave me an idea as to where we might need to head in the near future,” he said.
That was the event’s precise purpose, according to Lewis.
“We hope the Roundtable will be a place where interaction across the boundaries of academia and industry will spark innovative approaches to internship partnerships that foster an enhanced learning environment for TROY students,” she said.
Student and industry panelists offered their perspectives on internship programs, answering questions from the audience and online attendees.
Joshua Sherman, who interned with Coleman Worldwide Moving and was hired by them, Sandra Potts, a prior military member who interned at Coleman, and Adam Dozier, who interned with Troy Bank & Trust and was subsequently hired by the company, provided student perspectives on internships.
Representing industry perspectives were Melissa Rea of the Wiregrass Museum of Art, Aaron Gartlan of Hogg and Gartlan Law Firm, Andy Hoekenga and Karla Sirhan, both with Coleman, and Donna Maxwell with Georgia Pacific.
“We hope these conversations will initiate a desire to continue discussions both in the classrooms and in the companies about how we can best serve our students and business partners,” Lewis said.
Dr. Lewis or Dr. Eckis are available to businesses and students to discuss details of the Sorrell College Dothan Internship Program. They may be reached at 334-983-6556 (ext. 21-263), or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helping to facilitate those discussions, and to emphasize the importance of the internship programs, the Sorrell College has added an internship and career coordinator to help build successful internship programs. To learn more about partnering with the Sorrell College, companies can contact Patrick George at 334-808-6582 or via email to email@example.com.