KOKOMO, Ind. — To the average person, it may have looked like Shelby Martin and April Wheeldon were enjoying a social event on a September evening.
But if you dig a little deeper, you will see they were gaining networking and planning skills to give them the edge as they move to advance their careers.
Martin and Wheeldon, both Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) students at Indiana University Kokomo, were among the planners and attendees at a Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event, co-hosted by the M.B.A. Student Association and Rozzi’s Catering.
More than 100 people attended the reception in Alumni Hall, to network and to hear speaker Jeff M. Fettig, retired chairman of the board and CEO of Whirlpool Corp.
There’s a vast amount of knowledge and expertise here,” said Wheeldon, adding that she had a very insightful discussion with a fellow IU Kokomo graduate. “It was awesome to have that type of conversation with someone I probably would not have met without an event like this. It brings our community and alumni here.”
Martin said the event also gives students a chance to practice skills learned in their classes, in particular how to interact with people at meetings that involve food and beverages, “just basic, common sense skills you want to use before you need them in a real-life situation.”
These are the kinds of real-world experiences the School of Business wants its graduate and undergraduate students to have, according to Gloria Preece, assistant dean. In addition to attending, they assisted in event promotion and introducing Fettig.
By connecting our business students with business professionals and alumni members, this event allows them to connect and build their network outside of IU Kokomo,” she said. “Students also benefit from the expertise of an experienced high-quality industry leader, which enhances their education.
A native of Tipton, Fettig earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an M.B.A. from IU. He served 13 years as chairman and CEO, stepping down as CEO in October 2017, and retiring from the company as chairman on December 31, 2018.
Wheeldon appreciated the opportunity to meet someone from a background similar to hers who served in a prominent leadership role.
It’s interesting to know he’s from this area, and the fact he was able to become CEO of Whirlpool is impressive,” she said. “It’s nice to see the success stories of people from here, and inspiring to think it’s possible for us to achieve that kind of career.”
While students benefit from attending the event, it’s also a way for the community to show what it offers for them professionally, said Liz Kerns, Chamber manager. The ultimate goal is for these future business leaders to stay in Kokomo.
We love that they are here, offering us a chance to build a bridge between the university and the community,” she said. “It gives an opportunity to build relationships that could be carried out further than this event, like job shadowing, internships, and even future jobs. If they can make those connections, students are more likely to realize this is a business environment that is welcoming to them.”
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.