BOOK program awards students cash prizes

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

The Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge Program (BOOK) is an opportunity for students to conduct research during their internships and then present for 30 minutes on the ins and outs of running a particular company. The 2014 program came to a close recently as a panel of alumni professionals awarded the top five student participants with prize money.

Junior Trevor Sutton was awarded the grand prize of $1,500, while seniors Alexia Nyoni took second with $1,250 in winnings and Zach Aldrich took third with $1,000. Aldrich was also awarded an additional $500 for his presentation on social responsibility. Seniors Dustin Turner and Ollie Wright were also awarded $250.

In order to promote professional researching, presentation and networking skills, BOOK is designed for students to intern in a company within their major, shadowing and studying the company from inside out. The program encourages students to ask questions and form connections, all while learning how the business world works.

For Sutton, the day of his presentation on the company he shadowed, Berry Plastics, turned out to be a surprising one when he woke up that morning with a scratchy throat and no voice.

“Friday night we had wrestling conditioning and we’re out on the track running and it started pouring in like 55 degree weather,” Sutton said. “I woke up and could not talk at all, so my nerves were going crazy. My confidence deflated from the start.”

Sutton tried to do everything he could to recover his voice before the presentation but felt as though he fell short in his delivery.

“I honestly thought I did terrible,” Sutton said.

With his confidence beaten, Sutton told his family about the presentation and did not even bother to check his emails, believing he had completely lost. A surprise phone call from a friend carried his good news.

“One of the other guys in the competition called and said congratulations,” Sutton said. “I was like, ‘what for?’”

Instantly after hearing the news, Sutton discussed the win with his advisor and got to see the judges’ comments.

Despite what he believed to be a rough delivery, Sutton thinks his presentation’s way of “sticking to the rubric” is what earned him the win.

Susan Wade is the director of Career Services and has been with Baker for 11 years. Her experience and involvement in the program ranges from sending out the initial emails to begin the program to surveying the presentations after the internships are completed. She is a huge supporter of the program.

“Students report that they’re meeting people in other departments in meaningful ways and really getting wonderful information and networking,” Wade said.

Though there were nine students who presented about their companies, Wade wishes that more took advantage of BOOK, what she calls a “wonderful opportunity.”

“I really wish that more students from more majors would participate,” Wade said.

Dustin Turner, who placed fourth, believes that BOOK was a great experience, though he also faced challenges during his presentation. Having entered the program late, Turner felt pressed for time and because of vision troubles, needed to memorize his presentation.

“Jumping in late was definitely interesting, and scrambling to make a good presentation in a really short time frame was an interesting challenge,” Turner said.

Another challenge Turner found difficult to overcome was attempting to get judges interested in his company when he did not believe it was a popular subject. Turner interned with Heritage Tractors in Baldwin City.

Turner’s relationships and connections with the company aided his research process. After his internship, he would ultimately like to go back to working with Heritage Tractors.

Turner was really excited to hear of Sutton’s success and was more happy for his peers than he was for himself.

“It was a great feeling to see that kind of success at Baker,” Turner said.

Students who have any questions about BOOK can contact Susan Wade or keep their eyes posted for notification emails on their school email accounts.