news-category: Godbold College of Business

Gardner-Webb’s Godbold College of Business Connects Students to Professionals

a male and two females talking in Blanton Auditorium about his business, Firebeard Coffee Roasters
Local entrepreneur, Tim Reen, visited in the 2023 Fall Semester and talked about his business, Firebeard Coffee Roasters.

Wednesday Experiential Learning (WEL) Days Feature Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—At least once a week, students in the Godbold College of Business have an opportunity to see how the concepts they study in the classroom apply to entrepreneurs, managers and others in business. Wednesday Experiential Learning (WEL) days started two years ago with input from Dr. Mischia Taylor, dean and assistant professor in the College of Business, and Micah Martin, director of the Center for Personal and Professional Development.

GWU Career Coach Blake Elizalde, explained the goal of WEL days is to give students a look into what goes into starting and managing a business. “Experiential Learning Days are great opportunities for students to meet a variety of business professionals to grow their network,” he noted.

Elizalde, a GWU alumnus, joined the staff in July after graduating in May 2023. While a student, he served as Student Body President, Student Recruitment Ambassador, Resident Advisor, and Marketing Coordinator for dining services on campus.

“These professionals share some insight into their respective careers and share a little bit about how they got to be where they are today,” added Elizalde. “A lot of students do not know what they want to do when they get out of college, and that’s OK. Attending these WEL Days and listening to these speakers can peak student’s career interest and help answer that ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ question.”

In addition to bringing guests on campus, Elizalde is offering more trips to tour regional companies and attractions and hear from their representatives. Last semester, the students toured the Bank of America Stadium and made a trip to Greenville, S.C., to learn about employment opportunities. This semester, students have already been to the Spectrum Center and will be going to Asheville, N.C, to learn about the industries there.

Local entrepreneur, Tim Reen, visited in the 2023 Fall Semester and talked about his business, Firebeard Coffee Roasters. He started the company three years ago with 10 bags of coffee and now has a coffee trailer serving a variety from hot chocolate, espresso drinks, baked goods and more. He roasts 22 pounds of coffee at a time with coffees from Central/South America including the start of direct trade relationships with the growers.  

Reen has a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministries and an advanced Master of Divinity. He started the business with a simple goal. “I realized that I could make my job be about sharing something that I loved with others,” he affirmed. 

Caleb Cook

And his most important advice: “In all business and life dealings—in every step of the process, let every action you make be done as a steward of God’s provisions. As such be generous and intentional as you show God’s love in your work,” Reen stated. “As an entrepreneur—Pursue something that you love doing. Not just one aspect of the business, but the business as a whole. Without a love for what you are doing, you will not have the longevity or joy in the work.”

Senior Caleb Cook, of Hudson, N.C., is grateful for the opportunity to hear from entrepreneurs like Reen and professionals who emphasize the importance of soft skills, such as communication and problem solving. Cook also values the Career and Internship Fair, which is one of the WEL day offerings. “I have the ability to meet with people from a wide variety of companies, start to build a network, practice a brief pitch of myself along with my work experiences and goals, and to even obtain an internship,” offered Cook, an accounting major with a minor in finance. “Each company is looking to hire interns and full-time employees, which provides a great opportunity to find a job or at least learn about different companies.”

Madelyn Kampfe

Senior marketing major Madelyn Kampfe, of Lincoln, Neb., appreciates the information offered on WEL days. “We’ve had so many educational speakers and topics to help us further our careers,” she observed. “WEL days are really the professors and the staff at Gardner-Webb helping the students as much as they can. Whether that’s them bringing Micah Martin from the career center to talk, or bringing alumni back to discuss their careers after college, or even people looking to hire, everyone they bring in is extremely insightful.”

She considers the most important lessons she’s learned from the speakers are the values of networking and hard work. “Blake Elizalde said that 85% of jobs come from connections made,” Kampfe asserted. “I’ve also learned that you have to work for what you want in life and you can’t just wait for it to fall into your lap because that rarely, if ever, happens. I think there will be times in the future that I will remember tidbits that speakers said during WEL days. Knowing how to create a resume or cover letter or find jobs in the area is so helpful.”

WEL Day Schedule

  • Feb. 21 – A guest speaker from Northwestern Mutual, former Olympic athlete, will talk about wealth management and discuss internship opportunities as well as briefly share about his swimming career in the Olympics.
  • March 6 – Women’s leadership: empowering event.
  • March 20 – The Center for Personal and Professional Development will discuss skills in the workplace and how to succeed in preparation for a networking event and the career fair.
  • April 5 – Senior business students will practice their soft skills while participating in a networking event with potential employers.
  • April 10 – Career Fair. Representatives from local and regional businesses will be on campus to talk about employment opportunities.
  • April 17 – Asheville Day. Visiting the city and learning about opportunities there.
  • April 24 – Dawg Pitch. Students pitch their ideas for a business to a panel of judges. 

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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