Rutherford County is carving career pathways.
Rutherford Works, a division of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, pairs the region’s business and education communities to introduce students to local, in-demand career paths that will both maximize their strengths and offer a high quality of life in Rutherford County.
One of its programs, for example, the Career Pathways Partnership (CPP), encourages local employers to volunteer to work with students in and out of the classroom, from participating in the Career Pathway Fair to hosting field trips and offering internships to high school students. Teachers and students can use the CPP directory to find business leaders for in-class speakers, career nights, field trips or even mentorships. One such business leader, Robert Benton with Business System Solutions Inc. (formerly Network Technology Partners), an IT solutions company, was an early adopter of the program. We sat down with Benton to get the 4-1-1 on this program as well as his experience.
Why was it important for you to involve Network Technology Partners with the Rutherford Works program?
Anything that the Rutherford Chamber has backed has greatly benefited Rutherford County. I’ve been involved with the chamber for about 25 years ever since I started the company, and throughout those years, I’ve noticed nothing but good things coming out of that office. They really support the small-business community. So for this particular program, when it became an option for us to help fund it, I was more than happy to make a contribution to it.
This program has helped introduce many students to local careers. Why is it important for Rutherford County business to grow its own talent base from within the county?
Being in the technology industry, a lot of the spirit behind innovation is supported through our younger generation. They don’t always have the background of where the technology comes from, but they have the mindset to be able to take it to the next level. Think about Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, who have innovated and changed the world that we live in. But, at some point, they were high school students with a dream. Having started out when I was 12 and having individuals like myself guide me through that career path was hugely beneficial. So that’s what attracted me to this program.
Why is it important for students to have these experiential learning opportunities?
It’s a great opportunity for them to see what it means to be at a company and involved in real-world activities. We started an internship with TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) where we were bringing in students and showing them how we run the business day-to-day – everything from interacting with customers and creating work tickets to problem solving. The feedback that we got from those interns was not only beneficial to them, but also beneficial to us. We were even able to hire some of them full time.
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