One of the benefits of Covenant College is its connections. The size of the school makes networking easy on campus and beyond. This reality extends even to Covenant alumni. Alumni who have entered the workforce oftentimes still seek to build relationships with current students to help them prepare for their exit from Covenant.
Two former students, specifically, are making an attempt to present both skills and opportunities to the Covenant community. Francis Bayly (‘17) and Matt Schroeder (‘17) are using their workforce experience with the Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A.) to help students prepare for post-grad life.
Bayly graduated from Covenant with a double major in Business and Economics as well as a minor in Mathematics. Likewise, Schroeder graduated with a major in Economics and minors in Mathematics and Physics.
Both students were hired within their time at Covenant as interns at T.V.A. Bayly was hired in May of 2016 in the Enterprise Forecasting group and now works on the Economic Forecast and Revenue Forecast. Schroeder is currently a specialist in the Load Forecasting and Enterprise Planning departments. Thus, both graduates are directly involved in the budgeting and output of the Chattanooga branch of T.V.A.
Though their backgrounds prepared them well for their work at T.V.A., they hope to bring the skills and opportunities they have encountered to a wider community. The first step of this process: knowing what all is out there for post-grad Covenant students.
Most Covenant students have driven by T.V.A. The building straddles Broad Street downtown and covers a few blocks across from Warehouse Row. However, many students are not fully aware of what exactly T.V.A. does.
Schroeder succinctly summed up what the corporation is. He said, “The whole business structure of T.V.A. is…generating low electricity rates to save the residents of the city money and also give back to the environment. So, to make our carbon footprint in the valley as low as possible.”
Bayly echoed these sentiments, emphasizing she is attracted to the mission and values of T.V.A. as a Covenant grad. Its commitment to energy, environment, and economic development along with its nonprofit status were all elements Bayly felt attracted to. Her attraction to these values was largely due, according to Bayly, to the ideas of stewardship taught at Covenant.
This compatibility between T.V.A.’s structure and values and those communicated at Covenant were a driving force in the alumni’s decision to bring their work experience to Covenant.
Schroeder and Bayly hosted a dinner in November 2017 concerning internship opportunities for T.V.A., and hope to do so again in the future.
One of the best ways for students to connect with T.V.A., however, is through their Small College Day. Once a year, students from private or community colleges in the area can tour T.V.A. and meet various managers at the event.
Schroeder said the following about Small College Day: “Some of the managers that interviewed me were also at Small College Day. So I think it helped that they had my interview and then they saw me again.”
Exposure to an opportunity like working with T.V.A. could be a helpful experience for students looking to enter any kind of professional environment.
Beyond just exposure to T.V.A. specifically, the alumni duo have already started teaching useful and practical skills to students at Covenant. These specific informative sessions provided by the Center of Calling and Career have included instructions on computer software programs, marketing techniques, and even general professional expectations.
With regards to these sessions, Bayly expressed her passion “about working with Covenant students and developing coursework that we don’t necessarily get inside the classroom. But we can come and say this is a software that a lot of businesses are using. And if you are able to say, ‘I took a two hour course in Tableau (a data visualization software),’ then that’s gonna stand out.”
Although their immediate focus is on T.V.A. specifically, the end goal for Schroeder and Bayly is a lot larger.
Schroeder said, “The ultimate goal is not necessarily even just T.V.A., but to make sure that Covenant students are getting jobs that match their level of skill.”
Bayly and Schroeder continued by encouraging current Covenant students of their abilities. In short, Schroeder said, “Don’t sell yourself short.”
While the Center for Calling and Career has hosted a number of these events for the school, Schroeder and Bayly have also organized events through various academic departments, namely Economics and Business.
The alumni have even expanded their network of instruction, hosting events at University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC).
Bayly and Schroeder will continue hosting these informational gatherings in the future.
Although T.V.A. focuses on Accounting, Business, Math, Engineering, and IT, they also look for interns from a number of backgrounds such as History, English, Psychology, and even Graphic Design.
Anyone who is interested in working with T.V.A. can contact one of these alum or ask for information from the Center for Calling and Career. Information is also available on the Student Opportunities page of T.V.A.’s website.