What Is It?
The Experience First initiative partners with business and community leaders to work alongside Greenville College students on high-stakes, real-world projects. Students who are selected to participate meet and interact regularly with partner leaders. The process is designed to be highly selective, but the criteria to qualify focused more on the individual passion than meeting requirements. Students do not need a specific GPA, a certain major, or particular interests or affinities. Rather, they must be ready to work on a team, experience real world problem solving, and think creatively.
Who Is Involved?
The new project includes Greenville College CORE 401 students who are looking for a real-world experience. The students are formed into project groups through an application process and are selected by the project managers. Each project has different tasks and goals that address various skill sets. The companies involved this year include Eckert’s Farms, Enertech Global, Innovation International, Kauffman Brands, and Rural King. These projects all involve a faculty head from Greenville College and a contact from the company.
How Does This Help Students?
According to Eckert’s project student participant, Mary Deterding, Experience First was an appealing option because they had to go through an interview process to become part of the team and they were picked by the advisor. Deterding shared, “I knew that the group I would be working with was going to be hardworking and dedicated. Also, I was excited to be working alongside a business and helping to solve one of their problems. It makes the CORE 401 experience more real and exciting to work with.”
Faculty point person for this group, Jane Bell, is extremely excited because much of what is talked about in business classes is worked out in reality. The students share in this excitement in their efforts to build understanding about decisions and how they have real limitations and repercussions. This gets Greenville College students into the world of business, marketing, public relations, professional collaboration and many other relevant areas. Bell is excited to see what is ahead for the Experience First program and what impact her group will have on such a beloved company.
Eric Watterson, head of the Experience First initiative, shared that this program is what the future of CORE 401 could look like, with the goal of having up to 10 Experience First projects for the spring semester. This potential change for the CORE 401 program will help to achieve the goal that the capstone project has always held: to have students work with others in the community to make a positive impact and learn through action. The new structure is making this goal a brighter and more ready possibility as the college reaches out to involve many new faces.
by Anna Evans