By Chelsea Hackney, Student Reporter
Senior business students experienced professional networking Jan. 29 at the Abilene Leaders of Tomorrow mixer at the Mall of Abilene.
Kristina Heavin, senior marketing major from Lexington, Ky., helped coordinate the event as a way to introduce students to the business opportunities the city of Abilene has to offer.
“I think a lot of students underestimate Abilene’s abilities and possibilities,” Heavin said.
She said this was a chance for students to practice their people skills in a conservative, corporate setting. In a big city, students can blend in and never break out of their comfort zone, she said. At a smaller event, students must mingle.
“It helps them realize that everyone is an opportunity,” she said.
One mixer is not enough for students interested in making connections and building a resume. Heavin and Sandra Minnick, senior marketing manager for the Mall of Abilene, are working together to give students more leadership opportunities in the Abilene area through the creation of the Mall of Abilene Youth Board.
The MOA Youth Board is in its early planning stages, but Minnick and Heavin already have a detailed plan for its operation. The board is made up of 10 to 12 high school and college students from the area. Board members must be between the ages of 16 and 22, and chosen by mall representatives.
Members assist in mall events, such as fashion shows, children’s programs and fundraisers for charities and local organizations. Although this is a voluntary position, members receive a $500 scholarship at the completion of a one-year term.
“This is a great opportunity for young adults to learn leadership and organizational skills,” Minnick said.
Some senior business majors may feel pressure to get plugged in, but they are not alone. Many students are not sure how to make connections or where to start looking for résumé-worthy programs. Instead of waiting to be invited to networking events, the Youth Board allows students to be proactive in taking advantage of leadership opportunities.
“The Youth Board is about working with people, and not just people your age,” Heavin said. “It’s about using your different experiences to bring together a successful event.”