Sometimes a greeting card conveys more than a simple thank you; sometimes it provides career validation. This is precisely what College for Working Adults Program Chair Patrick McCormick discovered in a leave-behind message from a former 21-year-old student.
The young female told McCormick that his investments class taught her it was time to embrace adulthood and greater life responsibilities. As proof, she started an IRA and began thinking about other retirement investments. “I knew at that point an education wasn’t just about credits and degrees; it was about helping individuals mature and succeed in life,” McCormick said. “The experience made me think about my teaching style, and how I wanted to continue engaging students in real-world experiences.”
He has found no shortage of challenges for his students since reaching that epiphany.
In his Principles of Management course, a food drive for the Community Harvest Food Bank is coordinated every year. The student-driven experience and its goals are multifaceted, McCormick said. The students are assigned business activities that require them to take their knowledge base one step further by applying it.
“One, students are getting hands-on management experience. They have to come up with how they are going to conduct the food drive, create structure within their own group for management, come up with their own marketing plan and then track real-world results,” he said. “Second, we’re helping the students build their résumés through volunteer experiences. We’re also giving back to the community because everything raised through that course project benefits northeast Indiana though the Community Harvest Food Bank.”
Through opportunities like the food drive, McCormick makes no secret of the fact he wants his students to have an edge. Using his connections in northeast Indiana’s business community is key to this objective, he said. “I’ve been able to develop partnerships and through that, we’re able to bring individuals into the classroom who can talk about the most recent technology or the most recent management styles. Those relationships are very relevant for helping our students maintain an advantage in the workplace,” McCormick added.
He is just as passionate to influence current business leaders, as evidenced by his coordinating role with Ivy Tech Corporate College to sponsor Disney Institute professional development seminars. More than 1,000 people have attended three, separate-topic sessions to date, with their success spawning a statewide agreement for the seminars between the Disney Institute and Ivy Tech Corporate College. The result for McCormick is yet another sign of career validation.