Jackson State University’s College of Business has cultivated partnerships with major corporations across the nation – from Union Pacific Railroad to Ernst & Young to Dixon Hughes Goodman. JSU students, such as Stephanie Tharpe, reap the benefits of these alliances.
Tharpe, a senior accounting major, interned this summer at Dixon Hughes Goodman in Charleston, S.C. The internship came about after the company participated in an accounting mixer hosted by the College of Business.
“Work experience is so crucial when you’re searching for a job after graduation,” Tharpe says. “What you learn in the classroom is important and you can take that with you on the job, but the on-the-job training received through internships prior to graduation really helps you succeed.”
Dixon Hughes Goodman is one of dozens of companies that have recruited interns from the College of Business student body. One of the university’s strongest collaborations is with Union Pacific Railroad. In 2001, JSU and Union Pacific began formulating a strategy to increase student awareness and interest in career opportunities with the nation’s largest railroad network. Since then, qualified students have been hired for internships and full-time, professional positions.
“This is an example of the type of relationships that we garner and strive to create year after year in the College of Business. We truly understand the importance of forging and maintaining partnerships that will be in the best interest for all parties involved,” said Lori Swanier, director of Career Services in the College of Business.
Currently, there are 43 JSU graduates employed in various departments within Union Pacific. The company considers JSU one of the top schools for recruiting employees. The company also has donated nearly $500,000 to the College of Business over the years, Swanier said.
Charles Cathey, the president of the JSU Student Government Association, interned this past summer at Union Pacific in the corporate sales department. The previous summer he interned with Allstate insurance company, another JSU corporate partner.
Cathey described both experiences as valuable.
“These internships allow JSU students to get a leg up on the competition because the global market is so competitive these days,” Cathey said. “I knew the College of Business had a good rapport and history with the business community, but I didn’t know it had such great opportunities to set up a career after graduation.”
JSU’s alliance with Union Pacific crosses disciplines. Anas Alfarra, a graduate student who received his engineering degree from JSU, interned at the railroad company this past summer.
“I really benefited from the strong, established connection between Jackson State and Union Pacific, and it was a great opportunity for me to get my foot in the door,” Alfarra said.
Alfarra worked on research and development with systems engineering on a project to improve automation for humpyards, areas where trains are parked.
“I was on a team with others from two top 10 universities – the University of Illinois Champaign and the University of Michigan,” Alfarra said. “Getting to work with students from some of the top schools in the nation gives me so much confidence in the education we get here at Jackson State University.”