Norfolk Southern rolls into Auburn’s Harbert College of Business to recruit for storied industry

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America’s railroads go far beyond the thrills and deep passion of train buffs. Even in a day when expansive space travel dominates the headlines, trains journeying along historic routes still fulfill their daily mission carrying much of the nation’s cargo from point of origin to point of distribution.

Norfolk Southern Corp. is one of the premier railroad companies ensuring that such a deeply rooted tradition continues to serve today’s economic engine, and it is using Auburn University students and graduates to help do so. 

Auburn and Norfolk Southern have developed a thriving partnership to cultivate job opportunities for students, well-qualified talent in a variety of roles for Norfolk Southern and various other exchanges designed to help invest in one another.

A Norfolk Southern spokesman says the principles of the Auburn Creed, a set of principles by which all Auburn students pledge to honor, are mirrored in doing so.

“Students coming out of Auburn’s Harbert College of Business are well prepared when it comes to professionalism, communication and knowing themselves as an individual,” said Jason Scott, Norfolk Southern senior manager of talent acquisition.

Norfolk Southern is a rail industry giant, operating on 19,300 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is a major transporter of industrial products, including agriculture, forest and consumer products; chemicals and metals; construction materials; coal; and automobiles and automotive parts.

It serves every major port on the East Coast between New York City and Jacksonville, Florida; multiple private terminals; the Gulf ports of Mobile, New Orleans and St. Bernard; Great Lakes ports; and numerous river ports.

Harbert College of Business, meanwhile, “aims to prepare not only a good intern or entry-level employee,” Scott said, “but it also instills a mindset in that they are future leaders through its classes, especially the capstone course, which is focused on ethical leadership.”

Beyond the classroom

Hired employees connected to Harbert come ready to work, Scott said, something the company values greatly in its partnership with Auburn.

“I would say Auburn University graduates go into their careers with the work ethic and desire to grow as a professional because they know their worth and what they can accomplish,” Scott said. “When looking at why Harbert College of Business students are an asset, Auburn also places a huge emphasis on involvement.”

He praised Harbert’s efforts to teach students both in and beyond the classroom.

“You probably won’t find a student that is not involved in an organization related to their major or interests. That involvement teaches real-world experiences and provides an opportunity to lead others. Overall, Harbert does a really good job of developing its students, which I mainly contribute to the professional development classes...and just the culture created by the students and our mentors,” Scott said. “Auburn continues to produce top talent.”

Edward Reynolds, Harbert corporate and foundation relations officer, noted a diverse value of the expanding partnership.

“Harbert College is thrilled to partner with Norfolk Southern,” he said. “As a leading global transportation provider, the company has a wide range of exciting opportunities to help our students begin and grow their professional careers.

“It is also reassuring to know that Norfolk Southern recognizes the value and importance of education. The company recently created a scholarship to support Harbert College students,” Reynolds said. “We are grateful for their investment.

“I know that students and their families will also appreciate the philanthropic support Norfolk Southern provides via its scholarship.”

A familiar culture

Scott pointed to another reason he sees success in the Harbert-Norfolk Southern partnership.

“Auburn is also such a tight-knit community. A lot of students look for that community culture in a company and want to contribute to that wherever they work,” Scott said. “I think Auburn students can find that here at Norfolk Southern and many students would be attracted to that.”

Is there a common trait among the Auburn students and graduates hired?

“I think about the traits mentioned in the Auburn Creed,” Scott said. “Students are taught about the creed all the time and everything the school does aims to instill those traits in their students. Auburn students are not afraid of hard work, and they value honesty and integrity.”

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.