While Steve McDaniel ’74 discussed the decision he and his wife, Donna, made to fund the installation of a professional interview room in the University’s Stephens College of Business, his eyes were alight with pride.
“I chose to give back because that’s what my family does,” Steve said. “My family is very strong in its faith, and giving back is a very Christian-like principal. My dad always helped people. He always reached out and helped others, and he taught his children generosity. I am trying to live by his example.”
In 2017, the McDaniels funded the interview room’s creation in an effort to help business students have every possible advantage when looking to begin their careers in the professional world.
The room includes video conferencing equipment, a UM backdrop, a monitor, desk and other equipment necessary for students to conduct video interviews with companies, no matter how far away they are. Stephens College of Business faculty also use the room as a teaching tool to demonstrate to their students proper interview etiquette, attire and confidence.
“I think the decision to contribute to the interview room goes back to discussions we had about the importance of making good first impressions,” Donna said. “You should be able to make a good first impression in any interview, whether you’re interviewing for a job making minimum wage or unlimited income.”
Steve said the interview room helps business students to better tout the well-rounded liberal arts education they received at Montevallo. In many cases, this factor sets them apart from other job candidates.
In most cases those chosen to interview for a job have already met the minimum requirements for the position, and an interview is an opportunity for a hiring manager to determine who has the best personality, who will best mesh with the company’s values and who will represent the company well, Steve said.
With the interview room at UM, Stephens College of Business students will be able to convey those traits to hiring managers as if they were sitting in the same room with them.
The interview room has already contributed to some major student successes, including 2019 graduate Preston Jones’ current position as a development specialist in prospect development at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
“Being a student-athlete and worker, I did not have the capability of flying to Houston for a job interview if I were to receive the opportunity. The interview room allowed me to conduct a professional face-to-face interaction with my hiring manager while being hundreds of miles away,” Jones said. “After talking to my hiring manager when beginning my job at MD Anderson, she informed me of the importance the interview room played in my interview and that the experience and professionalism of the setup and entire interview was extremely impressive.”
Steve said he feels a special satisfaction when hearing success stories tied to the interview room.
“I think it’s incumbent on all of us that if you receive something, you need to give back. I received something special in my education at Montevallo,” Steve said. “Some of the people that are enrolling at the University of Montevallo are the first ones in their family to go to college. We need to give them a leg up and give them every advantage we can so they can compete in the job market.”