Pictured above: Center is Professor Larry Quinn, chair of the Department of Sales and Marketing, mentoring students in one of three professional sales labs where HPU students can practice in settings that mimic real-world environments. This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Phillips School of Business gives students the ability to learn lasting life skills.
The Phillips School of Business provides students with a path and resources to achieve their professional goals.
Business majors at High Point University have big plans.
They take advantage of competitions and clubs, seek advice from professors and local mentors and use their own savvy ingenuity to gain internships, start careers right out of college and even secure a patent for a product they create.
They take to heart the lessons they learned both in and out of class. They visit companies, listen to speakers, go to career fairs and write thank-you notes to their professors because they know the guidance they received helped them achieve their dreams.
Consider these four.
Lexy Rahim found a career. Scott Weigel and Timin Sonik found direction. Caitie Gehlhausen found validation and support for what she first sketched out in her blue notebook of ideas. All through HPU’s Phillips School of Business.
A Place of Mentors
It was a Wednesday in April when Gehlhausen won $10,000.
She earned first place in HPU’s Business Plan Competition. She presented what she calls Socket Lock-It — a product she created that helps customers hold their smart phone better and keep credit or business cards from falling out.
She came up with the idea nearly two years ago. Since then, she has secured a patent, found a manufacturer and sought advice from her professors, friends, parents and Marc Randolph, the Netflix co-founder and HPU’s Entrepreneur in Residence.
She now has the money she needs to advertise online and attend trade shows and conventions. Randolph and business professors Kathy Elliott and Troy Knauss helped make that happen.
“HPU will go that extra mile if you’re willing to put in the work,” Gehlhausen says. “Think of the connections you can make. You have networking opportunities at your fingertips.”
Elliott, director of HPU’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship, loves to hear that. In her office, across a wall behind her desk are these three words: Do something amazing.
Gehlhausen did. She is now a junior and an entrepreneurship major from Indianapolis, Indiana.
“That’s the goal of our campus — to help students with real life,” says Elliott. “Troy and I get such energy from that. It reminds you why you’re doing this.”
Hard Work Pays Off
“I get great peace from seeing them rise up and get better,” Quinn says of students. “And I raise my eyes up to heaven and say, ‘Thank you.’ It’s a gift from God to be in this position.”
Quinn is HPU’s Sales Professional in Residence and the chair of its Department of Sales and Marketing. He, along with business professor Randy Moser, advise the Professional Selling Club.
So, scores of students know Quinn and Moser. Students like Weigel and Rahim.
In the summer of 2018, Rahim interned with Tanger Outlets in New York City. In February, Kohl’s was so impressed with her video interview the department store chain flew her to Milwaukee for a day of interviews.
Rahim took with her one suitcase, two professional outfits and this advice from Moser: “You have to know yourself if you want to sell yourself.”
In May, Rahim graduated with a degree in marketing and a minor in sales. Before she walked across the stage, she had a job: a merchandise analyst trainee for Kohl’s.
She’s now in her dream career, fashion merchandising, and living in Milwaukee.
This summer, he worked as an intern with GE Healthcare in its Commercial Leadership Program. It’s a coveted internship, and Weigel worked hard to get it.
He talked to GE representatives at university career fairs held on campus and HPU students who interned at GE. He also asked Quinn and Moser for advice and built relationships with GE employees, including HPU alumni who work there.
This year, Weigel is the president of the Professional Selling Club. And he feels free.
Last November, he left HPU’s soccer team and a sport he played since he was 5 years old because he wanted to focus on a career he never knew existed.
“The best part for me is outside the classroom,” Weigel says. “You get to sit down with CEOs five and six at a time here on campus, pick their brains on how they got to where they are and gain perspectives from people like Quinn and Moser.
“For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.”
The Thrill of Discovery
Sonik is grateful, too. He found focus at HPU with the help of the seven-page mentor list the business school created last year.
Sonik looked at the list and sent out at least 50 emails. He got 35 responses. He called them all and visited at least 10 of them, driving nearly two hours to talk. Those visits lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Sonik made connections. He also gained perspective.
“HPU will make students successful if we’re willing to listen and take advantage of the opportunities the university provides,” says Sonik, a junior entrepreneurship major from nearby Winston-Salem. “It’ll set you up for the future.”
Dr. Jim Wehrley, the dean of the Phillips School of Business, understands.
“It’s the little things,” he says, “that builds confidence.”
A Parent’s Perspective: ‘She Has Grown So Much’
They watched on their laptop how their daughter, Caitie, delivered her business plan in front of four judges at High Point University. They sat at their kitchen table in Cicero, Indiana, tuning in to the livestream broadcast.
They were awestruck by their daughter’s poise.
“She nailed it,” Carrie told her husband after Caitie’s six-minute presentation. “Whether she won or not, she did great.”
Caitie did. And she won. In April, she received $10,000 in HPU’s Annual Business Plan Competition to help her market Socket Lock-It, the product she created for smartphones.
“We tell her all the time that she wouldn’t get the support and personal attention she does from HPU at other universities,” Carrie says.
HPU’s professors helped guide her. Her parents did, too. Carrie left a fundraising company where she had worked for 33 years to help Caitie run her business, while Carl helps Caitie with the legal side of things. Like HPU, her parents have faith in Socket Lock-It — and Caitie.
“What she has learned creating this product is priceless,” Carrie says. “She has grown so much.”