Cumberland Now Volume 1, Issue 8 - Page 15

Smotherman said the experience has also helped her understand the role of the Chamber in the community. “This group of small businesses come together to discuss the benefits of Cumberland County. They strive to bring more businesses to bring people here to better Crossville and Cumberland County,” she said. She has been helping with answering phones, providing information on events, hospitals, and relocation resources. “People come in and want things to do,” she said. “With COVID, it’s been hard to pinpoint what’s open.” She’s helped with filing, gathering minutes from board meetings, and providing customer service. The program is self-paced, allowing Smotherman to continue her lessons on days she isn’t at the Chamber. She works through modules that enhance her experience in the office. “Customer service is the main focus right now,” she said. “When customers come in, I know to be polite, show professionalism. It’s given me experience to work on how I present myself.” Chamber President Ethan Hadley said internships are incredibly valuable to students in every field. “Interns are better qualified to make decisions regarding their career paths and businesses can examine and refine their practices from new employee on-boarding and training to project management and general day-to-day operations,” he said. “If there is an ongoing need and the fit is right, internships can also result in hires. The process can function as a test drive for both the intern and the employer.” The retail, hospitality and tourism program takes a year to complete, with three trimesters focusing on customer service, hospitality and tourism, and management. “Mixed in with that are three mini-courses in computer applications,” said Reid. “You learn a little bit of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and file management. “Cash registers are all computers now, so you really need those basic skills to be able to run those computers.” The COVID-19 health crisis struck about the time students would have been ready to their third trimester internships in the spring. Reid found an online simulation, however, that helped students develop their skills in customer service and hospitality and tourism management. Reid liked the simulation program so well she’s integrated it into her curriculum, offering that experience before the students go into the field. “It was neat to have that practice to work through problems you experience on the job,” she said. In addition to the TCAT diploma, the curriculum aligns with multiple industry certifications, such as the National Retail Federation Customer Service and Sales Certificate, American Retail Federation Retail Management Certificate, and American Hotel & Lodging Association Certified Hospitality and Tourism Management Professional certificate. “They not only leave with certificates from us, but certifications recognized by industry leaders,” Reid said. “That’s an extra feather in their cap.” Looking ahead, Reid hopes the program continues to grow. She’s currently teaching it along with the administrative office technology program. “One of my goals is to also get this into the high schools as a dual enrollment option,” she said. Reid said the program would benefit students who graduate high school and enter the workforce. “This program focuses on improving customer service at our mom-and-pop stores, our big box retail stores. It’s going to help not only the students gain skills, but the overall community will have overall better customer service,” she said. New students can start each month. Contact TCAT at 931-484-7502 to learn more about the programs available at the Crossville campus. At Cumberland Hearing Aid Center, we offer: • The right technology for your lifestyle • Direct-to-iPhone hearing aids • Smartphone apps for your hearing aids • EarQ & other major brands • On-site lab for services & repairs for MOST major brands • Batteries, earmolds & other accessories 3 Years Running! 3820 Peavine Road | Crossville, TN 38571 Call 931-484-2102 Today for your appointment! CROSSVILLE’S LOCALLY-OWNED & OPERATED 363619-1001 FULL-TIME SERVICE, CELEBRATING 35 YEARS (931)484-4497 365494-1001 Cumberland Now • September 2020 | 15