Radford High School’s sophomore class visited the Blacksburg campus on May 23 to learn about career options in higher education and opportunities at Virginia Tech.

The 92 students visited several areas of campus and spoke to employees representing athletics; the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities; the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; Virginia Tech Dining Services; and enterprise administrative and business services.

“We had a blast with the Radford High School students tour,” said Randall Van Dyke, executive chef at Dietrick Dining Center. “We are so glad they could join us. The students were attentive, joyful, and inquisitive."

The program, named Tech Tracks, was a joint effort by the Division of Human Resources and Jamie Little, Virginia Tech-K12 liaison for the Radford City Schools.

“It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this,” said Tara Grant, principal of Radford High School. “It was a great collaboration with Virginia Tech.”

During the pandemic, sophomores did not have opportunities for field trips or to focus on career options, Grant said. “We need to continue to be innovative and expose kids to careers, including careers that haven’t been invented yet,” she said. “We want students to dream big.”

One student returned from the trip to Virginia Tech and applied for a summer job with Dining Services, Grant said.

“We want to highlight that no matter what your path after high school, Virginia Tech most likely has an opportunity for you,” said Jeff Cumberland, talent acquisition manager. “Higher education is not just for professors.”

The Tech Tracks program is part of Virginia Tech’s new recruiting model. “How we recruit employees has changed,” said Bryan Garey, vice president for human resources. “We’re expanding our talent acquisition services and doing more outreach in new ways to attract applicants.”

Minh-An Pence, outreach and engagement recruiting specialist, is working on developing additional programs with local schools. “We would like to expand the program to other high schools in the area,” she said. “There is a big talent base all over the New River Valley.”

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