From Socrates To Spreadsheets

From Socrates To Spreadsheets

Quickly landing a job post-college has never been a given, especially for liberal arts grads. But recent efforts by the faculty at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) has been garnering attention from businesses across the nation, including major companies such as Macy’s and Nabisco.

“We knew that students and parents were worried about job prospects,” says John Coleman, who became CLA dean in 2014. So Coleman and the faculty began implementing a “road map” at the start of the fall 2014 semester, with goals to ramp up job readiness training and employer outreach. “We reallocated some funds to increase the career services staff,” which added five positions, thus increasing student interactions “astronomically,” he says.

More staff has meant more capacity to reach out to employers, says Paul Timmins, director of the CLA career services department. “We’ve upped our number of workers on the employer relations team,” he says, “and all of them have a goal of making connections with employers.” Coleman has been meeting with executives at Target, HealthPartners, both the Minneapolis and St. Paul chambers of commerce, and elsewhere.

As a result, both student and employer attendance at CLA job and internship fairs has doubled from 2012 to 2015. Charlie Douglass, of clothing retailer Buckle, told the U that the fairs have been valuable recruiting efforts for Buckle and, at the least, “gives us the ability to speak with the next generation of our business.”

The CLA has also increased support for students in low-paying internships. “About five years ago, we had maybe 15 students we could give internship scholarships to,” he says. “This school year, we are on target to give out 100. And we just got word of a $2 million gift, which should enable us to give out an additional 45 per year.”

—Sam Schaust