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Students and faculty at Tennessee Tech wander through student poster boards in a multipurpose room

At Tennessee Tech, first-year students can participate in the Festival of Student Writing, creating unique posters and visual displays to share their writing.

Tennessee Tech

Students are being challenged to go beyond their academics to apply their skills in a meaningful way at institution-sponsored festivals and events. These competitions give learners a chance to shine and highlight their abilities and ideas while receiving recognition from the college or university.

Here are three examples of on-campus events that promote student development and success after college.

Festival of Student Writing

For the past 20 years, Tennessee Tech University has hosted a festival for first-year students to display their writing and research completed in their English Composition course. The goal is to give students a new format to display their writing outside of a traditional academic essay.

During the event, students can display posters, exhibits, brochures, multimedia presentations or performances on different subjects.

“The event is designed for interaction; guests, including other students, faculty, and administrators, ask students to talk about their projects: to explain, expand, elaborate, elucidate, or enlighten,” says Tony Baker, English professor and director of composition at Tennessee Tech.

The Festival of Student Writing is free and open to the public, and attendees can also win prizes by completing a scavenger hunt.

The festival is coordinated by the Department of English and includes students enrolled in English 1010 and 1020. It requires little to no budget and operates as a flexible, pop-up setting, Baker says.

Mock Interview Competitions

The University of Mary Washington and Thomas More University host mock interview competitions to help students succeed in a professional interview setting for their future internship or job.

At Mary Washington, the annual event is organized by the Office of University Advancement and Alumni Engagement and involves UWM student alumni ambassadors as participants. In 2023, 16 students competed, interviewing for the fictional role of program assistant in the UMW Office of Student Activities and Engagement. The student winner earned a recommendation from the vice president for advancement and alumni engagement and an overnight stay at a regional alumni event.

Thomas More’s mock interview competition is supported by Republic Bank Trust & Company, with employees serving as judges. During the two-round process, students are evaluated on their preparedness, depth of answers and professionalism. All participants receive detailed feedback and recommendations and the university awarded the top three students a total of $2,000.

Entrepreneurial Program and Competition

Student Entrepreneurs

A November 2023 survey by Morning Consult found 50 percent of Gen Z aspire to be entrepreneurs or to start their own business. Among survey respondents, one-third said they wanted to go into entertainment and media, 30 percent want to pursue a role in technology or design, and 24 percent look toward health industries.

The University of Colorado at Boulder hosts a New Venture Challenge (NVC) competition each year, providing student entrepreneurs with the opportunity to build a start-up with venture funding and mentorship.

All students across majors and departments are invited to pitch ideas, and the university offers a class in the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, the New Venture Launch, which teaches students skills needed to turn products into ventures.

NVC had two competitions in 2023—one for female founders and another for climate-focused products.

The female founder event featured an all-female judging panel, highlighting the lack of representation of women in venture capital. The winning female-led teams presented on indoor gardening, prosthetics for children and detoxing from social media. Climate-focused ventures, some of which were also women-led, focused on addressing the challenges of climate change and solving climate issues.

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