FSU STARS Alliance Connects with Alumni in Atlanta

Touring companies is one of the first steps students make towards investing in their future. It allows students to connect with recruiters face to face, meet Florida State alumni at the companies, and experience the work environments of companies they could work for one day. Last month, eleven FSU STARS Alliance students toured six companies in Atlanta, Georgia. They visited the offices of  Chick-fil-AE*TradeHome Depot, GMIBM, and State Farm.

STARS alumni dinner in AtlantaOn the first day of the trip, students had the opportunity to connect with FSU College of Communication and Information (CCI) alumni at Harry’s Pizza and Subs (pictured above). Students fostered connections with fellow ‘Noles as alumni shared professional experiences and knowledge they accumulated over the years. Hannah Brock, Josh Goraum, Marissa Monivis, Allison Cannan, Aly Kapper, Allison Floyd, Natalie Quinchia, Victoria Rice, Courtney Lisenbee, Matt Russi, and Megan McGilvray attended the dinner, all of whom were also STARS members.

STARS Home DepotHome Depot was the first company the group visited in Atlanta. Students toured the corporate headquarters in Vinings Crossing where they spent time not only touring the facility but learning about Home Depot’s company culture and values. During the tour, the students were able to spend time with CCI alumni and Home Depot employees Joshua Goraum (‘18, B.S. Information Technology) and Courtney Lisenbee (‘15, B.S. Media Communication Studies). As an alumnus of STARS, Joshua participated in this same trip in 2018 and now works at Home Depot because of the connections he made at the time.

“I was really impressed by Home Depot and how they made it very clear how important their intern and entry-level employees are to their continued success,” said IT student Luke Weaver. “I really value opportunities to meet face to face with CCI grads at these companies because we leave with a much better understanding of how we need to be ready when we leave FSU.”STARS at GMGeneral Motors (GM) was the second company on the trip’s itinerary. With over 300 FSU alumni employed at GM (and 75+ from CCI), there is no doubt that FSU students fit into the company culture of GM. The team-based approach and distributed work environment reflect the culture that is maintained on FSU’s campus. GM has become a reliable source of employment for CCI grads with many eager alumni wanting to share their experiences working for the company. GM even has a robust mentorship program to help ease students into finding a job.

“It was so great to be able to see the company environment and learn more about how the different teams work together at GM,” said STARS President Rhiannon Jacobson. “I personally enjoyed getting to see the environment and learning more about the company culture as I will be starting at GM in July as a Software Developer. It was also great to connect with some FSU alumni to help build those relationships prior to starting.”

STARS at chick-fila headquartersThe last stop for the day was at Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A has recognized the importance of its brand and staying ahead when it comes to information technology and analytics. FSU alumna Allison Cannan (‘18, B.S. Management Information Systems) gave the students a tour of the Atlanta headquarters after a presentation about employment and internship opportunities at Chick-fil-A. A former STARS President, Allie was offered a full-time position at Chick-fil-A as a business analyst after completing an IT internship with the company’s Restaurant Management Solutions Team.

“After meeting with the recruiters, it was very obvious that cultural fit is very important to what Chick-fil-A is looking for in their employees,” said student Kelly Newbrough. “You can tell they value all aspects of their company and employees really matter to them, as well as the success of their employees.”

STARS at State FarmThe second day of the trip was another full day of company tours. The students visited State Farm offices, shadowing employees to get insight into what a workday is like. Megan McGilvray (‘16, B.S. Information Communication Technology) and Hannah Brock (‘17, B.S. Information Technology) guided the tour of the company and answered the students’ questions along the way. After, students participated in a Kahoot to show what they learned about the company’s history and culture that day.

“I really loved the welcoming and creative atmosphere of State Farm,” said STARS student Kara Knack. “My favorite part was getting the opportunity to job shadow an employee for part of our visit. It was a great way to get a more catered experience to our personal interests.”

STARS at IBMIBM was next. Students learned about the company’s immersive internships, job positions, and the chance to grow within the company, with the meeting facilitated by Kayla Burke (‘16, B.S. Information Communication Technology). IBM employees provided insight into creating healthy work-life balance and keeping living and workspaces separate because many of the company’s employees work remotely.

“Touring companies in Atlanta allowed me to experience a diverse set of company cultures. With IBM, I was able to see the leadership development opportunities that were available for new hires,” said STARS student Julia McLane. “I especially liked how there were different work opportunities like working at the office or remotely.”

STARS at E*TradeThe last stop of the trip was E*Trade. The tour was coordinated by CCI alumnus Matt Russi (‘13, B.S. Information Technology). Matt was eager to share about his day-to-day life in Atlanta and the collaborative nature of E*Trade. Students listened to and participated in a panel discussion about the company’s values and focus on soft skills over technical skills. E*Trade looks for individuals with strong soft skills as they are willing to teach new employees the technical skills they need to succeed.

“It was interesting to see the technology that drives E*Trade,” said student Isabella Escobar. “There is a whole industry in the FINTECH area that students need to be aware of. There is also a great emphasis on cultivating their new talent through mentorship programs and different activities like Hackathons that get everyone in the company excited about learning new things.”

“Experiences like these are essential to build your professional network,” said Kelly Newbrough about the Atlanta trip as a whole. “I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve received from STARS to network and receive some insight into the work environment of some amazing companies.” As a junior, she acquired knowledge that will help her post-graduation, saying, “I am appreciative of the companies and people that gave up their time to allow us to ask questions to learn more from their own experiences.”

STARS isn’t limited to only CCI students. Senior Zachary Goruam shares his experience attending the trip as a physics and materials major. He says, “as a non-CCI major, I worried that I would miss out on a lot of the value of this trip. This notion of mine was quickly disproven. While the jobs weren’t fixated on what I do, I left this trip with new connections and a better understanding of what it means to be a beneficial leader to a company. Thanks to Ebe Randeree for organizing this and to all of the companies and people that were involved in making this trip a reality,” he adds.

Students who traveled on this Atlanta trip were Rhiannon Jacobson, Kelly Newbrough, Isabella Escobar, Kara Knack, Julia McLane, Kim Sapp, Gillian Kamerer, Will Fuller, Jorge Ramos, Luke Weaver, and Zachary Goraum.

To help STARS promote FSU programs to middle and high school students around the state and to help fund trips like these, consider donating to their SparkFSU campaign here.