JANUARY 4, 2022 — Recognizing the value of experiential learning, four UTSA students were selected as inaugural participants in the Najim Strategist program sponsored by the Harvey E. Najim Center for Innovation and Career Advancement.
The six-week program exposed students to a real-world project from the business community.
The UTSA students who participated were Catherine Hittson, a junior marketing major; Alex Martinez, a junior statistics and data science major; Vincent Pham, a senior computer science major; and Jagwinder Singh, a senior cyber security major.
“Experiential learning opportunities allow students to hone their career readiness skills and gain direct experience with issues affecting their community,” said Erica Clark, associate director of the Najim Center. “These projects encourage interdisciplinary learning and allow students to think outside the box to solve real-world issues. We are meeting students where they are to provide them with valuable work experience.”
Working with Ed Patton, chief executive officer of Patton Systems, the team was asked to determine if there was a market for his firm’s financial services product. Conducting field research, the students surveyed various companies to determine market demand and delivered the recommendations to the owner.
“The UTSA team provided me with business and market insights that I wouldn’t have been able to obtain on my own,” Patton said. “The insights that they provided will be an important component as I move forward in the expansion of my practice.”
The Najim Strategist program is representative of UTSA’s ongoing efforts to provide new classroom-to-career educational opportunities for students. By offering tangible, meaningful training beyond traditional classwork, programs like these ensure that the university is building on its commitment to student success.
“I gained hands-on experience and worked collaboratively with a diverse team of students across different disciplines,” Martinez said. “This program is a great way to explore different disciplines and build your resume.”
Pleased with the students’ results, Patton will continue to work with the Najim Center in the spring to expand on the market research and enlist the students to develop methods to reach the large business community his system serves.
More than 12 different experiential learning projects will be available for student participants during the spring semester. The student roles are paid positions that span over four, six or eight weeks.
“We have a variety of partnerships that we’ve lined up for the spring including projects with the Pearl and the Alameda Theater,” Clark said.
The Najim Strategist program is open to all UTSA students from any major. Applications are already open and close on January 18.
Established in September 2020, the Harvey E. Najim Innovation and Career Advancement Center at UTSA advances the university’s Classroom to Career initiative. The Najim Center is a resource for students to explore their career potential. The center provides a variety of experiential learning opportunities for students to better understand how their degree and academic experience can advance their futures.
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