The words “you’re hired” were music to the ears of Towson University student Thomas Slemp, this year’s winner of the Associate competition.
Now in its tenth year, the signature contest of the College of Business and Economics is based on “The Apprentice,” the reality television program where 16 contestants competed for the “ultimate job interview” with Donald Trump.
In Towson’s version, eight students vie for the prize of a guaranteed job with the sponsor company, in this case SECU, whose CEO, Rod Staatz, served as the competition’s “Donald.”
Staatz and other local business leaders issued weekly challenges for their real-world business dilemmas to the students, who worked in teams to develop and present solutions to those challenges.
This year’s competition reached its dramatic conclusion this past Tuesday, when the two remaining contestants made their final case presentations to a panel of judges and an audience of friends, family, faculty members and fellow students.
“The Associate is a challenge that requires not only an adept business sense,” said Slemp, a double major in economics and mathematics with an actuarial science concentration, in his presentation. “It also thrives on creativity, diversity of thought, hard work, attention to detail and problem-solving capabilities.”
Upon being declared the winner, Slemp was “extremely excited. It was a great experience. I have only good things to say for all of my competition, especially Tanyea [Jordan] coming this far.”
SECU will be offering Slemp a full-time position within its organization before he graduates in May. Runners-up were each awarded $1,000 scholarships for participating. As a bonus this year, SECU also offered the contestants another $1,000 to conduct one last case study on how to best reach out to TU students.
Asked for his advice to fellow business students, Slemp said, “Just participate in this program. It is definitely one of the best experiences you can participate in.”
More than 70 students have competed in the Associate over the course of the last 10 years, with a resulting 11 winners and 20 job offers.