Executive Dining Experience begins with a focus on finance

November 6 2008

As groups of young men and women gathered at tables to discuss the news of the day with top executives over a formal dinner, conversations ranged from the economics of immigration to the pros and cons of government regulation in the banking industry. Listening in on the discussions, one might have thought these were young entrepreneurs making their way up the corporate ladder. In reality, they were students from the College of Business at Indiana State University taking part in a new career-development initiative.

The Executive Dining Experience was held at the Ohio Building in Terre Haute on Oct. 30, the first in a series of events designed to connect students with industry leaders. Each event will feature a different theme and locations will alternate between Terre Haute and Indianapolis. The theme of the first event was the current financial crisis.

Before sitting down to dinner, the students mingled with six top executives from businesses around Indiana and Illinois.

"This was a great way to network with industry professionals and also other colleagues from the College of Business," said Jeremy Firster, a junior finance major from Elizabeth.

Seated at each table were four students, one executive and a leader from the College of Business. Students prepared for the discussions by reading articles and developing a list of questions.

"There were lots of questions for our executives and they were wide-ranging," said Bruce McLaren, associate dean of undergraduate programs in the College of Business. "The discussion at our table included talk of the far-reaching impacts of the economic crisis on the global marketplace."

At Ron Weller's table, students asked questions about the economic downturn, discussed whether to invest in the stock market and even shared ideas on how to educate people to become informed about their finances. Weller is a vice president and senior banking officer at Citizens National Bank in Paris, Ill.

David Somheil, a sophomore from Brazil majoring in management information systems, was at Weller's table and said the conversation provided him with new insight into the banking industry.

"It was good way to gain an executive's perspective by talking about issues that we've all been dealing with in the classroom and our everyday lives," he said.

The event was sponsored by the Career Experience Center, a service of the College of Business that assists in the coordination of students' career and professional development. Students attending the event were nominated by professors.

"The idea is to engage 25 of our top students with executives from central Indiana and Illinois in discussions that are currently impacting the business world," McLaren said. "It all goes back to the College of Business' objective of fostering student success in and out of the classroom. We will repeat this experience in the spring in Indianapolis with a different topic."

For many of the students, the event offered a unique opportunity to prepare for the career world by discussing relevant topics.

"It's not every day you get to dine with executives," Firster said.

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Contact: Career Experience Center, Indiana State University College of Business, 812-237-4580

Writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or etaylor16@indstate.edu

Photo and cutline: Business students talk with Gay Ann Weaver of AG Edwards/Wachovia before sitting down to dinner during the Executive Dining Experience. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

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Story Highlights

An Executive Dining Experience, the first in a series of events aimed at creating bonds between business students and industry professionals, kicked off at the Ohio Building in Terre Haute with a discussion on the financial crisis. Sponsored by the Career Experience Center in the College of Business, the events will alternate between Terre Haute and Indianapolis.

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