Derek Vaughn is a senior from Luray, Virginia majoring in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resource Management (MHR) and a minor in Business Leadership. Derek is graduating with distinction, Summa Cum Laude. 

In early June, Derek accepted a job at Pilgrim's Pride as a  Human Resource Supervisor Trainee.

We recently asked Derek to share some of his academic experiences while at Virginia Tech.

Why did you choose Virginia Tech?  When and why did you choose MGT?

When I was first sending out college applications in high school, Virginia Tech wasn’t on my list.  I was accepted by my top pick and assumed that was where I would spend the next four years of my life.  It took two semesters and a gap year for me to decide I was at the wrong school.

The school I attended fostered a culture that, to me, felt centered around competition over cooperation.  Everyone had to be the best all the time.  Competition certainly has its place, but in an educational environment, there needs to be a sense of community.  During my gap year, I came to visit a friend in Blacksburg and experienced the Hokie community for myself.  Seeing how the students worked toward personal improvement while still supporting their peers convinced me Virginia Tech was where I needed to be.  I transferred in the following semester and haven’t regretted my decision since.

I knew I wanted to major in business, but choosing a specific area was difficult.  Thanks to the general Pamplin courses, I got to try a little bit of everything before settling on Management with a concentration in Human Resources.  I knew I was most interested in the people side of business, but I wasn’t sure if I was making the right choice until I took my first HR class, Staffing and Development with Dr. Zimmerman.  There was an ongoing case study following the material that ultimately solidified my decision.   Being able to experience the entire hiring process in a simulated environment was my first real introduction to the world of HR, and every class since has caused that interest to grow.

What advice would you provide to an incoming Pamplin freshman?  

It’s ok to not have a solid plan yet.  Take some time to explore classes that interest you, and eventually something’ll stick.  At different points in my college career, I thought I was going to be an astrologist, anthropologist, historian, or archeologist.  Ultimately, these aspirations didn’t last long, but I don’t regret taking the classes.  They filled gen-eds and I came out of them with a deeper understanding of subjects I find personally interesting.  I don’t know why black holes or Greek art would ever be relevant to management and HR, but they might have been the subjects to throw me into a career I never would have seen coming.  Branch out now.  There’ll never be a better time.