UIndy’s students gaining an edge in job market

ProEdge_Columbia_039Bricks and mortar may garner the most attention (new buildings make for interesting photographs, for example), but another important part of UIndy’s Vision 2030 strategic plan is aimed directly at providing students a satisfying and rewarding collegiate experience that prepares them for the future. The Greyhound Plan, which emerged from Vision 2030, is designed to promote student satisfaction, retention, professional development, and marketability.

One aspect of that plan is the Center for Advising and Student Achievement (see the president’s message, opposite), which helps students make the most of their time on campus and makes certain they can graduate on schedule. The Professional Edge Center, meanwhile, prepares students for careers after graduation, and involves major contributions from faculty liaisons, industry leaders, and alumni representing numerous professions. It helps students and recent graduates launch their careers by linking them with opportunities for mentoring, networking, and internships, and encouraging the business connections, skills, and confidence that ensure a seamless transition from education to career.

The Center supports entrepreneurship and builds career pipelines in seven business sectors that are academic strengths for the University and vital elements of the Indiana economy. Programs and services include internship fairs and job fairs, résumé and interview coaching, panel discussions with local professionals, and career exploration and service opportunities in students’ fields of interest.

Rapid growth in first year

Associate Vice President Corey L. Wilson has been busy in his first year as leader of the new initiative, which has gained great momentum. The center has added three new professionals to its existing staff, all of them master’s-degree prepared and bringing deep professional experience: Betsy Knott as director of career and community integration; Jennifer McChristian Smith as assistant director focusing on public service, nonprofit management, and social services; and Nicole Martinez LeGrand, as assistant director responsible for arts and humanities, communications, and law.

Over the summer, the Center convened a working group of 21 faculty champions from 14 disciplines to develop a role summary for future faculty liaisons for the Center and a plan for creating effective student interaction with industry leaders. The Center’s faculty liaisons will seamlessly integrate curriculum and professional development.

Heavy hitters

Already this fall, the Center’s many activities have involved more than 2,000 students, 50 industry representatives, and 80 alumni, and interacted with more than 500 parents. A Women in Leadership event in August, for example, brought alumna Linda Dillman ’76, chief information officer at QVC; trustee Yvonne Shaheen, retired president & CEO of Long Electric; and trustee Deborah Daniels, managing partner at Krieg DeVault, to share with outstanding female students their personal stories and strategies for success as women in the world of work.

A November event, “The Business of Sports,” involved 150 students at the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Shop and featured Dennis Reinbold ’83, president/CEO, Dreyer & Reinbold and member of the UIndy Board of Trustees; Anucha Browne, vice president, NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships; Kelly Krauskopf, president and general manager, Indiana Fever; Ersal Ozdemir, president/CEO of Keystone Construction, owner and founder of the Indy Eleven, and member of the UIndy Board of Trustees; and Joel Zawacki ’06, director of corporate sales and marketing for the Indianapolis Indians.

The Center is on the alert for alumni mentors to share their experiences and advice with students in their majors. For information, write Corey Wilson at clwilson@uindy.edu.