Building a local network leads to national connections

The annual Division of Business and Computer Science field day provides opportunities for students to learn about a given field, line up internships and network.

Union college students hear it from their teachers all the time. Network. Finding a job after college is often about who you know. Brenda Beeken, senior business administration major, is beginning to realize how true that may be.

On Feb. 16, the Division of Business and Computer Science at Union College provided more than 60 students the opportunity to shadow local professionals. This annual field day is designed to give business students a more accurate picture of the professional world and its expectations. It also creates potential internship and job opportunities and, most importantly, gives students the chance to build their professional network.

Beeken has been on three business field days and discovered it could help her build connections not only locally, but nationally. Until she shadowed the marketing and human resource director at Embassy Suites in downtown Lincoln, Neb., she had never considered working in hotel administration. “They told me so much about the business that I never knew,” she said. “For example, hotel conference rooms and banquet halls are constantly being rented out, which provides a large portion of their income. Planning and coordinating these meetings is something I’d really like to do. But until I job shadowed there, I’d never considered, or knew, it was a critical part of business for that industry.”

Now she’s considering her options. “When I graduate in May, I’m planning on moving back to Portland, Ore.,” Beeken said. “When I got back from the field day, I immediately went online to look at the Embassy Suites in that area.” She has an advantage over others applying for a job with that chain of hotels, the Lincoln directors offered to be her references.

“This is why networking is so important,” said Barry Forbes, chair of the division. “You never know who knows who or how one contact could shape your life.”

The business field day started about 10 years ago with activities like business scavenger hunts, research business trivia and small entrepreneurial projects. In 2006, Stephanie Rick Lind, a business and computer science club officer, and her mentor, Tanya Dick ’96, gave the event more focus.  “They brainstormed and considered what students really needed,” said Forbes. “Eventually, they came up with a day dedicated to job shadowing. The division has been using their plan ever since.”

For more information about networking and mentorship opportunities in the Union College Division of Business, visit