On the Move with DEIB '22 cohort in Charlotte, N.C. Photo by A'me Dalton for Virginia Tech.

The Pamplin College of Business Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) recently took its first-ever “On the Move with DEIB” trip to Charlotte, N.C. The one-day trip connected 24 students to employees of the Wells Fargo Corporate & Investment Banking division and EY Charlotte.

The participating students, representing the Virginia Tech chapters of the Association of Latino Professionals for America, the National Association of Black Accountants, and the Pamplin Multicultural Diversity Council, learned about future career opportunities, issues of DEIB in the workplace, and were able to engage with Charlotte alumni. Students also interacted with diverse employee resource groups to continue connecting the dots between inclusivity and building community in higher education and the workplace.

“Experiential learning opportunities like our trip to Charlotte are key experiences to supporting the growth and development of our diverse undergraduates,” said Janice Branch Hall, associate dean for DEIB. “Students get a glimpse of their professional future while practicing their networking skills and exploring various career paths; and for some, these connections may lead to jobs and internships.”

The trip kicked off the morning of Friday, October 21, with a visit to Wells Fargo. Students learned about Wells Fargo’s Corporate & Investment Banking Undergraduate Program, an opportunity for seniors to explore what it takes to be a corporate and investment banking analyst and develop the financial and analytical skills that will take students far at one of Wall Street’s fastest-growing investment banks. This internship offers students exciting experiences, significant responsibility, client-facing opportunities, and accelerated career growth.

“I had no idea what to expect, but the event was so informative and engaging. The trip was very successful,” said Pamplin senior Lilian Liu. “I really enjoyed hearing from many different women in both companies, and I aspire to be a woman in power one day. I think that the advice that was given to our group was perfect timing for me as a senior.”

Students took a “walk the floor tour” with Sales and Trading Associate Dave Knause ’12, where they watched the corporate and investment banking floor working in real-time with corporations, institutions, investors, and real estate professionals.

This was followed by a lunch-and-learn panel session and business presentation where students participated in a case study that provided deep insight into industry expertise and the knowledge needed to meet business demands strategically and creatively.

Pamplin Advisory Council Member and principal consultant for Lucas Tax and Energy Consulting Randy Lucas ’91, M.S. ’92 speaks with the group of Virginia Tech students during their trip to Charlotte, N.C. Photo by A'me Dalton for Virginia Tech.

“Thanks to this event, as a new transfer student and Latino, I was able to have so many new professional connections with current Hokie students,” said Judith Obregón. “It is amazing to know that we are on the same path supporting each other to build and follow our future professional path. The Office for DEIB is providing us the resources that we wouldn’t normally have and helping connect us with those companies.”

The one-day trip concluded with a visit and tour of EY’s Charlotte office. Students learned more about EY’s insights, services, industries, and career opportunities through a panel discussion consisting of three EY Associates and Virginia Tech alumni, Ariana Labat ’20, Jacqueline French ’22, and Patrick Gibbons ’22. The panel touched on additional topics relating to EY’s inclusive culture, innovation, and the benefits that come along with being a part of EY’s team.

“The trek was very eye-opening to me in a lot of ways,” added Finance major Anirudh Vigneshwar Gokul Raj. “As an international student, my perception of the workforce in the US is very different, mostly because I have not had many chances to interact with the workforce personally yet. EY was a stark contrast to what I expected. I loved the environment, immediately felt more inclusive and they had DEIB initiatives that they proudly talked to us about.”

Randy Lucas ’91, M.S. ’92, Pamplin Advisory Council Member and principal consultant for Lucas Tax and Energy Consulting, joined the trip. “It was great to see the Virginia Tech students have excellent networking opportunities to ask questions, interact, and learn from alumni in finance, analysts, traders, investment marketers – like Jamelia Livingston, an African-American ‘Big Four’ CPA audit partner – as well as recent Virginia Tech graduates,” said Lucas. “It was an amazing day for an older Hokie to watch it all happen in the city where I reside.”

“This trip gives students insights into workplace culture to determine what they should look for when assessing the best organizational environment that will support their success,” said Hall. “Students are interviewing potential companies as much as companies are interviewing prospective candidates, and we want our students to make informed decisions about organizational fit. ‘Do I feel welcomed in this culture?’ or ‘Do my core values align with the mission?’ These are the types of questions our students reflect on to assess whether the organization is right for them.”

DEIB is excited to continue these experiences and look forward to partnering with organizations to bring these experiences to our students.  

- Written by A'me Dalton

Virginia Tech students concluded their trip with a visit and tour of EY’s Charlotte office. Photo by A'me Dalton for Virginia Tech.