PACCAR Inc. will help students learn what it’s like to work for a Fortune 500 company through a mentoring program at the Carson College of Business.

The program launches this fall, pairing sophomores and juniors with PACCAR employees. After meeting in person during a kickoff event in Renton, Washington, at PACCAR Parts—a division of the Bellevue-based company—the employees and students will connect during regular phone calls and Skype sessions throughout the school year.

PACCAR mentors will help “simulate the business world” for students, said Brad Johnson, a Carson College alumnus and national sales manager for PACCAR Parts. “We’ll try to answer questions from the mundane ‘What can I wear to work?’ to the super technical ‘What software should I use for this project?’”

Johnson (’88 Fin.) says the mentoring will benefit both students and the company. PACCAR has 28,000 employees worldwide and is best known for its Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF lines of commercial trucks.

“We have been in the greater Seattle area for over 100 years,” Johnson said. “This is a talent-rich and employer-rich area, the home of Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing. This program is a natural next step to help us recruit top talent.”

While there’s no expectation that mentored students will go to work for PACCAR, Johnson said the program will help the company’s recruitment efforts by raising its profile on the WSU campus. Each spring, PACCAR mentors will meet again in person with students in Pullman before the mentoring concludes.

“It gives us some insight into today’s business student,” Johnson said. “What do they want from an employer? What do they expect out of a job? What do they like and dislike?”

Closeup of PACCAR Parts Building in Renton, Washington.
Students at WSU Carson College of Business will meet their Paccar mentors during a fall kickoff event in Renton at Paccar Parts.

Helping students “own” their career path

PACCAR will be the second company with a formal mentoring program at the Carson College. Boeing also connects business students with employee mentors, who provide information about the aerospace industry and what it’s like to work for Boeing.

Mentoring is a valuable way for students to get career advice and start building their list of professional contacts, said Sophia Gaither, associate director of the Carson Center for Student Success.

“We want students to take ownership of their career path,” Gaither said. “This is a chance for them to ask questions like ‘What was your first job? What helped you succeed? How did you become an executive?’”

The mentoring program will start with 10 to 15 students and expand over time. PACCAR is such a large and diverse company that Gaither expects students from all business majors to apply for the program.

“This is a great place for our students to start exploring questions like ‘Where could a major in finance take me?’” she said.

Preparing students for the business world

Through the mentoring, Johnson also hopes students get a good grounding in what a future employer will expect from them.

“One of the things we talk about is that a B-plus student is a pretty good student, but a B-plus employee doesn’t quite cut it,” he said.

“We’re trying to set those expectations. Work is different than school, and here’s what you need to succeed professionally.”