Renowned photographer Chris Grosser once said, “Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” Students in Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Business Management Technology (BMT) program are given the chance to create opportunities for themselves by learning skills to help them create those opportunities effectively.
The BMT program was launched in Fall 2016. It is a two-year program that pro- vides training in management with an emphasis on planning, organizing, and coordinating. Individuals are trained for career opportunities in production and distribution industries, small businesses, legal offices, insurance companies, financial institutions, and self-employment. Upon successful completion of this program, graduates earn the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students in the program will complete Office Proficiency Assessment and Certifications. The program is offered on the Senatobia, Oxford and DeSoto campuses, and can be completed online.
Like other Career and Technical Education programs, the BMT is on the 30/45/60 plan, according to BMT instructor Beth Dickerson. After the first 30 hours completed, students can exit the program with a Level 1 certificate, having taken basic classes such as QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel and Word, business accounting and mathematics and Social Media management. Students who choose to continue for another 15 hours and exit after 45 hours, will receive a Level 2 certificate, and will have taken classes in human resource management, career readiness and entrepreneurial problem solving. If they complete the next 15 hours in core academic classes, they can earn the AAS.
“We are trying to gear students for either working in large companies or smaller businesses and give them the skills they would need to start their own business,” Dickerson said. She emphasized that career readiness was built into their curriculum. “We do things in our program across the board. We expect professionalism in their appearance, for them to write us clear concise emails. We also expect for them to call in if they are going to be absent or late,” Dickerson said. “They need these skills as an employee, but also if they start their own business, they need to know what to expect from their employees,” she added.
Latasha Isom of Senatobia and Kim Beebe of Strayhorn were two of the first students in the program. Isom and her father have started a dry-cleaning business in Holly Springs. Isom graduated with her AAS in December. Beebe exited at Level II and is working at the Tate County Co-Op as a bookkeeper. Beebe plans to continue her studies and to earn her associate degree. Her husband and son both graduated from Northwest with welding career certificates.
Beebe, a native of Las Vegas, came to Mississippi with Horseshoe Casino in 1993 when the casinos were established here. She had a lot of “on the job” training in finance. She was looking for a program that she thought would help her in her family’s pursuit to start their own business. “This program struck a chord with me, since my husband and I have always wanted to start our own business,” Beebe said. “I felt it would help me and us.”
She feels the program prepared her well for her job at the Co-op. “I had a lot of the background, but the program gave me a lot more confidence in what I am doing,” Beebe said. She likes working for a smaller company, having spent a good deal of her career in the corporate setting at the casinos.
Beebe found herself out of work for a while and came back to Northwest as a non-traditional student. “Our instructors were all very knowledgeable and willing to sit down with you and help you until you were able to grasp the concepts you didn’t understand. I would highly recommend the program. People need to take advantage of it while they can. No matter what your age is, it is never too late to go back to school, “Beebe said.
Isom started her college career pursuing a degree in nursing, but decided it was not what she wanted. “I did not want to give up on school completely. I really like to help people. I felt that if nursing was not for me, I could find another way to help people,” Isom said. She said that, and the fact that her father has owned a business since she was a child, motivated her to want to serve the community through her own business. She was very attracted to the BMT program and what it had to offer.
Once Isom started her classes, she realized that her interest in the classes was an indication that she this was what she really wanted to do. “I came up with a plan in my head about what I wanted. The classes put you in a position to get ready to start a career, whether it is working for someone else or for yourself. It has really helped me out with my business,” Isom said.
She too found the instructors to be helpful and knowledgeable. “They are amazing. If I could do it all over again, I would and I would tell anyone that Business Management is the place to be with those instructors. I would also encourage the students who are in the program currently to hang in there. If you are struggling, I would advise them to go to their teachers. They are there to help. As long as you ask for help, it will be given to you,” Isom said.
For more information on the BMT program, visit the college’s website at northwestms.edu and click on Programs. Select Technical Degree Programs. The program is listed on that page.
Pictured: Kim Beebe of Strayhorn (left) and Latasha Isom of Senatobia (right) both recently completed the Business Management Technology program at Northwest Mississippi Community College. The program, which was launched in Fall 2016, is a two-year program that provides training in business management with an emphasis on planning, organizing, and coordinating. Beebe is currently employed at the Tate County Co-op and Isom has recently started her own dry-cleaning business in Holly Springs. (Photo courtesy of Beth Dickerson)