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Jones College advisor encourages students to focus...

Jones College advisor encourages students to focus ‘less on negatives, more on silver linings’

Paula Calahan, Advisor, Jennings A. Jones College of Business in and around Walnut Grove. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

Jones College of Business advisor Paula Calahan is encouraging her students to focus less on the negatives and more on the silver linings during these unprecedented times.

Not only that, but she also thinks these changes will make a positive difference for Jones College grads entering the workforce. While the current global job market is tougher than in typical years, new skills necessitated by the pandemic may add value to certain degrees and make a candidate more desirable.

Calahan tells her students, “After the pandemic, your degree is going to mean something to employers. You had the resilience to get through college remotely in a pandemic.”

While the pandemic has brought upon significant challenges for everyone involved, she has a point; this is the sort of learning experience that MTSU’s business school promotes.

One of the missions of the Jones College is to “produce graduates from its bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and executive/continuing education programs who are well-prepared for challenges and advancements in their chosen careers.”

Paula Calahan, Advisor, Jennings A. Jones College of Business in and around Walnut Grove. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

Paula Calahan, Advisor, Jennings A. Jones College of Business in and around Walnut Grove. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

As companies have adapted and innovated their operations during and after the pandemic, MTSU graduates are going to be prepared for these newly-defined needs of modern times. Whether they’re looking for employees who know how to conduct professional meetings remotely or someone who can get the job done from home, a Blue Raider will be ready to answer the call.

Regarding the switch to remote learning for students, Calahan says, “They were disappointed at first, of course, but now that they have developed a new skill set, they have come to appreciate it. While they realize they are missing out on some things, they’re gaining new skills.”

Another unintended benefit has been that students seem to be enjoying the convenience of remote advising appointments. Instead of finding time in their schedule to come to campus, find a parking spot, and walk to the Business and Aerospace Building, advisors can simply interact with students via Zoom.

Advisors play a crucial role in the college experiences of the students they interact with. From guiding them through their first schedules during CUSTOMS orientation, to signing their intent to graduate forms, they are always there to guide and support students through one of the most exciting periods of their lives.

“Seeing students succeed is my favorite part of my job,” she says. “To see them finish is very rewarding to me.”

Paula Calahan, Advisor, Jennings A. Jones College of Business in and around Walnut Grove. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

Paula Calahan, Advisor, Jennings A. Jones College of Business in and around Walnut Grove. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

Calahan recalls a story from earlier this year, where an appointment popped up on her calendar for a student one week away from graduation. Naturally, this was a red flag and cause for concern.

“When I saw her name on the calendar, I thought, I hope this isn’t bad news!” she says.

Instead of bad news, she was greeted with her student wearing her graduation cap, exclaiming, “We did it! I couldn’t have done it without you!”

“Now that was a moment of celebration I will never forget!”

On staff at MTSU for 17 years, including five years as an advisor in the College of Media and Entertainment and two in instructional design, she believes the success of the university and its students during this time has been a complete team effort.

“I know faculty, staff, and administrators who have been here for 30 years or more who have had to shift to remote delivery of courses and student services. We have all had to implement major changes to the way we work and interact with students. It’s not about me, or about you, but it’s about the willingness of everyone pulling together to make our efforts toward student success achievable.”

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