Michael Heck is from Brick, New Jersey with a dual degree in Management Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology (EIT) and Finance with the Corporate Financial Management option. Michael was recently awarded the Management Department’s HH Mitchell Leadership award.

After graduation next week, Michael will be going to flight school for the US Army National Guard to be a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and will be stationed in Lakehurst, New Jersey where he will search for a job after his extraordinary military training.

We recently asked Michael to share both his Virginia Tech and Pamplin journeys with us.

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

I picked Virginia Tech because I wanted to go to a school with a lot of school spirit. Coming from a small high school with a small football team with low wins, I was excited to go to football games and experience the Hokie experience. I wanted to follow the family tradition and go to a school in Virginia.

I did not come into Pamplin as a management major, but I knew from my Foundations of Business (MGT 1104) course that I wanted an EIT management degree. Professor Bluey convinced me to stay in management and Professor Poff sold me on the EIT concentration. My decision for this major comes from the style of class and versatility this major provides. In addition to the Professors who find interactive ways to prepare us for the real world, I love the atmosphere and environment that Virginia Tech provides. The faculty, students, and culture are awesome, and I love how much the faculty go out of their way to provide a comprehensive experience. No matter what kind of problem I encounter, the faculty here within the Pamplin and the Management department go out of their way to help me out. I feel more than ready to graduate and begin my life outside of college.

Name some of the internships, if any, that you had during your Virginia Tech and/or Pamplin journey.

My first internship was being accepted for the first group of UTA (undergraduate teaching assistance) program. I was accepted into this program and had to pick between two classes and ended up in MGT 2064. I saw this job as an opportunity to learn and experience the behind the scenes of what it’s like being an instructor. I was making large decisions and the teacher treated me like an equal which really made my time and myself feel appreciated.

The second internship I had through Pamplin was a Human Resources internship. I was the first junior ever accepted for the internship. I was assigned as a Benefits Administration intern under the Virginia Tech Benefits sector. I had a say in creating the new benefits webpage, created a filing system for all injury reports, and provided the verbiage and pictures for a video on the VT HR website. I lastly attended events like a SHERM meeting where I was a panelist and answered questions for students interested in HR or the program.  

Were there any specific classes that you remember as validating your major choice to date?  

Foundations of Entrepreneurship - became TA for this brand-new class

Each of these three classes I will always remember for specific reasons. For Foundations I took during the summer right after covid started. I was working on a covid response team, and I would be dining the HW in the class in a different location every time from hotel rooms to pop up sighs and one in a vehicle outside a level 4 prison before we started work that day.

Careers in Management

Careers in management because I ran from my last class in Old Sentry Building to make it on time. I would have all my gear and sit in the back center of class in NCB 310. The first day I sat down and was called out by the professor who found me in an over 150-person class.

FIN3074 with Supreme Justice McClanahan

Third was my business law equivalent class. I was 1 of 3 students in the class and it was Thursdays from 6pm - 9pm. The teacher was very knowledgeable, and this was the first class I had a semester long project. Her input, meetings, speakers, and food she provided when class was not in zoom was something so different that I can’t forget it.

Has there been a faculty member or staff member within Pamplin and/or the MGT department that has served as a mentor or source of inspiration for you during your journey? 

One of my biggest mentors has been Professor Poff who has been impactful to my college experience. The first time I meet him was at a DSP event in the Newman library. He has been a professor I can always relate to, and I have never seen a professor who cares more for his students than him. We are both PSE brothers and as a National Board Member, he has done a tremendous amount to help our chapter. The MGT department and Professor Poff have helped me and frankly ensured that I had a successful college career. 

What advice would you provide to an incoming Pamplin freshman? 

Freedom is a must and take every opportunity you get.

Your professor is an expert in a field and might know someone else who is too.

Do not be afraid of office hours because teachers will know your name and face and can help you if you forget an assignment, specific help for exams, provide a tutor and know the resources that are available.

Pamplin offers guest speakers, career fairs, campus recruiters, variety of teachers with crazy backgrounds from all across the earth.

NETWORK is a must! Something I learned in a management class was you never know who you can meet so have “your brand” always ready

Clubs and organizations - pick and choose what you like or want to try. Push yourself to make friends or try something new because you are only in school for four years so make the time here last. That goes for study abroad because you never know when you will get an opportunity like this again. I went to New Zealand and won some scholarships to only pay $2,000 for the trip!

What/who is your inspiration for leadership?  

Ron Poff - my mentor

Leadership is like pouring water out of a cup. It takes the shape of whatever you pour into it. You shape yourself the way you want because water will fill in that shape. In school and life people can mentor or teach you good and bad things to make you who you are. No one can say you are this leader because they are not you.

I think to be a great leader, you must start with being a great follower. I became a leader from the positive and negative lessons I learned from observing and being with different leaders.

If you could give a testimonial about Pamplin and/or the Management Department, curriculum - what would you say?  

It starts off with a large amount of information that you think you will never use. Everything builds upon your freshman year class to things that I use as a senior today. The department pushes your knowledge, critical thinking, and ability to speak or present yourself in a professional manner.

Any other words of wisdom or insights that you can provide us

  • Think outside the box
  • Take classes outside normal scale
  • Join organizations around campus
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and push your comfort zone
  • Take advantage that VT gives because you are only in school once
  • Do something that you like and want to do
  • You do not have to be the best or worse in a class to have a teacher mentor
  • Study abroad