To help Virginia Tech students build leadership knowledge and skills, a student group is launching a crowdfunding campaign to support a conference that offers experiential learning guided by industry professionals.

Leadership plays an important role in the operation and success of any organization, but it is also “a vital trait used in all aspects of life,” said Emma Saunders, a finance and management junior from Tyro, Virginia.

Saunders is a member of the Pamplin Leadership Development Team, the student organization that coordinates the annual Student Leadership Conference on campus.

The conference, a day-long event, is open to all Virginia Tech students, who have to apply to attend. The 2018 event will be held on Jan. 27.

The 20 students in the group seek to raise more than $3,000 by Oct. 31 through their crowdfunding campaign.

“Our team has coordinated this conference for 18 years. We have experience in fundraising — knowledge and skills that have been passed along to new team members,” Saunders said.

“We've raised approximately $12,000 from industry partners that have supported us in the past,” she said. Crowdfunding “can help us secure additional funds needed for the conference. Monies raised beyond our goal will be used for student scholarships.”

Saunders estimates that the total cost of the conference and scholarships will be $20,000.

She and other team members hope that the campaign will be supported in particular by current students as well as graduates in the leadership minor, past conference attendees, and other Virginia Tech alumni.

“We have received consistent positive feedback from our conference attendees and sponsors, attesting to the value of this conference.”

Past conferences have drawn more than 100 students, including such majors as psychology, communications, and industrial and systems engineering.

Students hear from a keynote speaker and learn about career and internship opportunities during networking time with company representatives. They participate in a variety of interactive workshops on such topics as personal branding, leading with individual strengths, and working across generations.

Kim Carlson is an assistant professor of practice in the Pamplin College of Business and director of the Department of Management’s Business Leadership Center, which hosts the conference.

“In planning and producing the event, the student team gets to develop and practice their own leadership skills,” said Carlson, who is the group’s faculty advisor.

The conference and student group seek to promote lifelong learning about leadership, she added. “We hope to grow our organization to have a greater impact on Virginia Tech and the surrounding communities by offering continuous leadership development opportunities.”

You can contribute to the Leadership Development Team campaign here

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