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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2023 Creating Pathways to Excellence

Industry Treks Create Pathways to Success

By Sue McMurray

Students experience Amazon’s famous landscape architecture.

Helping students chart their career paths through industry engagement has long been a part of the Carson College of Business’s academic culture. This engagement takes on many forms such as internships, guest lectures, and mentoring but also includes career excursions, known in the college as “industry treks.”

These off-campus trips give students networking experience and insight into their future workplaces and are an essential component of Amplifier, the college’s career preparation program. Undergraduate and graduate students across Carson campuses benefit from these opportunities.

Recent support from donors and corporations has enabled more Pullman-based students to participate in Seattle-area treks.

Dedicated support from alumni and corporations makes it possible

“We’re grateful for donors who support our vision to produce career-ready graduates,” says Chip Hunter, former college dean. “Their dedication helps us equip students with the experiences they’ll need to meet their employers’ expectations very quickly.”

Several sources enable treks, including the McKinney Public Industry Treks and Forum, which Rich McKinney (’73 Busi. Admin.) supports. The Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management has provided more than $10,000 since 2016. Two anonymous, million-dollar-plus gifts to the accounting program and an investment from J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation also help fund the excursions.

In 2022–2023, more than 100 students visited 10 accounting firms; 12 hospitality-affiliated businesses; Amazon, Microsoft, and PACCAR; and 3 Palouse companies: Lightcast, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and Northwest River Supplies.

Many WSU alumni make treks possible at their companies through generous donations of time, meals, gifts, and spaces for networking events.

Avery Frank (’19 Accounting, Mgmt. Info. Sys., Entrep.), a CPA at CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, has supported treks since he graduated. “It feels good to give back and share my professional experiences with younger Cougs,” he says. “It’s important for students to determine if they can see themselves working in the environments they’re touring.”

Brian McGinnis (’77 H&RA) came out of retirement to work part-time as the WSU Marriott Foundation corporate engagement coordinator. He organizes treks for the School of Hospitality Business Management, which helps students get a good look at hotel and restaurant front- and back-of-house operations.

Treks showcase a variety of professional paths

Christopher Veloicaza, a WSU Vancouver student, plans to work in hotel management. While on the hospitality trek, he was struck by the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in the hospitality industry. “Staying updated on trends and adapting strategy requires flexibility, creativity, and open-mindedness, which will be essential in my future career,” he says.

Thanks to the collaboration of PACCAR employees Meegan Prince (’05 Comm.), Hannah Botsford (’23 MBA), and Matt Beer, director of Carson master’s programs, both undergraduates and MBA students on their respective treks got to see the world’s largest manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Denise Thrush (’23 MBA), who has worked in health care for 20 years, found the experience insightful: “I’m torn between advancing my current career or transitioning into a more international role. This PACCAR experience, as well as studying abroad in Prague, opened my eyes and mind to so many possibilities.”

At Microsoft, Don Lionetti (’87 Mktg.) and five other WSU alumni hosted Janel Lang, the college’s corporate engagement manager, and over 20 students.

“We’ve done treks at Microsoft a few times over the last decade, and students’ progress has been dramatic,” Lionetti says. “I see better-qualified graduates every year. It’s rewarding to see their genuine excitement as they envision their careers.”

Donor, Alumni, and Corporation Support Enables Trek Experience

Hogan Heytvelt (’21) and Cara Christopher (’19) lead a Q&A about working in tech.

Don Lionetti (’87) has facilitated Carson treks for 10 years.

Lightcast trekkers learn what business skills are helpful in a workforce data company.

Microsoft trekkers hear from marketing, sales, finance, & employee development experts.

Avery Frank (’19) educates students about transitioning to professional accounting roles.

(L) Jamie Scarr (’17) & Cody Nelson (’13) develop students’ insights on careers & global e-commerce.

Hannah Botsford (’23) hosts MBA students at Kenworth Manufacturing & PACCAR Parts plants.

Students experience Amazon’s famous landscape architecture.

Students get hands-on experience, thanks to owner Joe Fugere (’84).

Undergrads and MBA students gain insights into the manufacturing industry at PACCAR.