Chambers College Alumni, Donors Accelerate WVU’s Access Mission Through Career Support

New professional assistance programs are helping business students jump-start their careers, and it’s all thanks to the generous support of the Chambers community.

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Chambers College Alumni, Donors Accelerate WVU’s Access Mission Through Career Support

The Stepladder to Success

Why do we give?

The answer to that question is found in a memory: a helping hand, a word of advice, an opportunity extended. When we were in need, someone put that first rung on the stepladder to help us reach higher. We remember the past and set an example of generosity for a new generation.

The Chambers College community sets the bar high on demonstrating that circle of generosity. Thanks to several new professional assistance programs, WVU business students are jumpstarting their careers at an unprecedented rate. These programs were created through a series of gifts from business alumni and friends, laying the groundwork for future business leaders to excel by removing financial barriers.

Mountaineers go first, but they don’t go alone. The stepladder to success is taller than ever – and it’s all thanks to our dedicated Chambers College community of alumni, friends and partners.

Meet Your Mentors

Landing the right internship is a key critical step to success on a student’s career path. Business majors have a resource centered on their student experience right in the heart of Reynolds Hall: the Center for Career Development (CCD for short) helps students find their purpose and become poised, professional and prepared business leaders.

“Students who come to the Chambers College don’t have to go at it alone,” said Sarah Glenn, director of the CCD. “No matter what type of background or business acumen they have, we’ll meet them where they are. The current internship and job search landscape is rather complex, and it’s imperative to help our students prepare for the real world.”

To land that dream internship, students need a razor-sharp resume, cover letter and interview skills. The CCD has a group of students who have specialized training to help them perfect their professional image.

Enter the Rusty & Kimberly Hutson Fellowships in Experiential Learning. Established in 2022 through a $1 million investment to the Chambers College, the Rusty & Kimberly Hutson Fellowships in Experiential Learning have bolstered the expansion of experiential learning opportunities for business students that contributes to building market-ready business graduates, which is core to the mission of the Chambers College.

Devin Ris, marketing major and Chambers College senior, is one of the five Hutson Fellows.

Photo of Hutson Fellow Devin Ris assisting a student with her classwork

“In the fall, it’s busier because we consult with every single freshman about their resume,” said Ris. “In the spring, we talk more about career trajectories and finding jobs. I just had an appointment where someone asked what happens at job fairs. I even have students message me on LinkedIn because they know I’m a career coach and are seeking help.

“One student came to me about an internship in the fashion industry in New York City. I told him how he could network with alumni and put himself out there, and he ended up getting an internship. We like hearing about when our clients are successful.”

In fall 2023 alone, students made 433 appointments with the Hutson Fellows to further their professional development.

It’s a win-win initiative for all. The Hutson Fellows get exclusive professional development opportunities. Chambers College students get guidance from peer mentors with specialized training. CCD staffers get a helping hand, enabling them to focus on the other aspects of their work – like bringing recruiters to campus and running career fairs.

Dressing for Success

Dressing for success is also critical for business students looking to secure that first internship or job.

Chambers students don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars at a department store. They can just go down the hall to the Gloria Jean Rosenthal Career Closet.

The Career Closet is more than just a physical space. It’s an initiative to ensure that Chambers students make the best first impression.

“The last thing we want students to worry about during the internship and job search process is what they are going to wear,” said Kara Sherrell, program director for the CCD. “The Gloria Jean Rosenthal Career Closet alleviates some of that stress by providing new professional wear to students so they can feel confident in any situation.”

Any student who needs new professional clothing can apply for assistance through the Career Closet, where they are required to outline how it can help them meet their goals.

Photo of a professional measuring a student in the Career Closet

“We’ve had fantastic partners in the community who help us provide this service for our students,” said Sherrell. “Jos. A. Bank in the Suncrest Town Center, Coni & Franc on High Street and Daniel's of Morgantown on University Avenue offer us reasonable pricing and donate their tailoring services, ensuring each student leaves with well-fitting professional wear.

“We can see the immediate impact this service provides when we watch our students navigate a career fair confidently, or post internship pictures in their new outfits on LinkedIn. Through the generosity of our donors, we are truly able to prepare our students for success.”

The Career Closet purchased 42 new suits for students in 2023 alone. That number is on track to increase in 2024, with 30 suits purchased so far as of March. Meeting this student-driven demand wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Chambers College donors.

One of those donors is Chambers College alumnus and Visiting Committee member Morris Morrison, who gave $10,000 to the Career Closet in 2023.

The “why” behind his investment? Giving Mountaineers the confidence to compete.

“The Chambers College equips students to win,” said Morrison. “The Career Closet gives students the confidence to stand out in a crowded marketplace and compete like true Mountaineers.”

Making Opportunity Accessible

One of the most difficult hurdles to clear for students pursuing their dream career is the financial piece. Getting an internship requires being able to pay rent and buy food, and the cost of living in big cities that offer competitive business opportunities can be barriers. Enter the Internship Access Fund, launched by an initial gift from the Stockhausen family in 2022.

"My wife Mary Ann and I enjoy giving back to the WVU colleges from which we each graduated,” said John Stockhausen. “For several years we did so with a scholarship fund, but in 2023, after discussing student needs with the WVU Foundation, we decided to direct our donations to the Chambers College internship program to give deserving students the opportunity to get an early start to their careers.”

The Internship Access Fund is a truly collaborative effort by the Chambers College community. Anyone can contribute to it, and the CCD will then distribute those contributions to students in need.

There’s no catch. If students need money to make their internship happen, they can get it here.

Photo of Justin Wilson and other WVU interns at PNC

“I had a lease in Morgantown that ran through the summer of 2023,” said Justin Wilson, an Accounting and Finance major who’d just landed an internship with PNC in Pittsburgh. “I would have had to either sign two leases and work two jobs, or wake up at 4 a.m. and drive nearly two hours to work and back every day. I’m a hard-working guy, but I doubt I would have been able to do it.”

After hearing about the Internship Access Fund from a friend, Wilson applied for it and received enough money to cover his living expenses for the summer. That internship with PNC led to a full-time job offer. Wilson is now preparing to make his debut as an investment banking rotational analyst.

“It can be difficult to land a job in investment banking,” said Wilson. “Being close to Pittsburgh made it a lot easier for me to go into the office and meet people and make a good first impression, rather than being exhausted from traveling or potentially having to work another job.

“Internships are necessary for student success. When you have that experience, you can say to employers, ‘I’ve done this before.’ You can’t get into investment banking if you don’t have that hands-on experience.”

Wilson is just one student who was able to follow his dreams thanks to the Internship Access Fund. In the summer of 2023 alone, funds were distributed to 34 other students so they could pursue internships, setting them up for success to build those first critical steps in their career paths.

The Power of Possibilities

The spirit of giving demonstrated by the Chambers College community opens the door for business students to build the market-ready skills that they need to succeed as they step into the competitive business world.

According to Milan Puskar Dean Josh Hall, it is that power of possibilities that changes students’ lives for the better, as support from alumni and friends enables students to focus on the opportunity and have the burden of financial stress removed.

“The stepladder of success for our business majors has been built by dedicated Mountaineers who have had their lives changed by the support of others and believe in the power of giving that back to our students,” said Hall. “These generous investments from donors like Rutsy and Kimberly Hutson, the Stockhausen family and Morris Morrison are a few of many examples of how our community rallies around our business students to bolster the access mission of WVU.”