Both a public health and an economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic also negatively affected students’ plans for career development. Students faced an immediate challenge last spring when their summer internships, jobs and study abroad opportunities were scaled back, moved online or canceled altogether.
In response, the College of Business supported students in an innovative and Nebraskan way – through the power of collaboration. The Business Career Center and Clifton Strengths Institute teamed up to create a new Career Accelerator Program to advance students' career development, skills and experiences. After a successful pilot this summer, the program runs again during the extended winter term, and business majors and minors can apply by Friday, November 13.
“Schools found many ways to assist students in the midst of lost internships, but we uniquely found we could better support and create opportunity by partnering different student services together. The center and institute partnership allowed us to support and develop our students through a career and strengths coaching lens. Because of this, our students were able to take action to grow personally and professionally,” said Janessa Hageman, assistant director of the Business Career Center.
Twenty-two students completed the six-week program. They received one-on-one coaching to provide direction and accountability, learn how to showcase their skills in future application materials or interviews, and make employer connections by having their final projects share with the college’s employer partners.
Grace Novak, a senior marketing major from Omaha, Nebraska, worked with Lauren Stehlik, assistant director of the Business Career Center, to create an individualized action plan to make her summer matter. Seizing the opportunity offered by the college, she focused on making her internship search successful.
“This program pushed me to become more serious and organized in my internship search, and it gave me a strong foundation because Lauren took an individualized interest in what I was looking for and my needs,” said Novak. “I got an internship with RKD (a fundraising and marketing agency in Lincoln) that started in July and has the potential go through next summer. I think this program was a great experience and reflects the desire of the College of Business community to have all students succeed.”
For José Villa, a senior economics and Spanish major from Lincoln, Nebraska, the pandemic limited internship and research experiences during his last year of school, generating a bigger need for him to create a plan for his future.
“With an interest in public policy and administration, I thoroughly researched all my options with the help of this program, so I now have a better idea as to what I'm going to do after I graduate. This program guides you in the right direction to achieve your future goals, or if you don’t know what they are, it can help you narrow it down by creating a plan of action to succeed,” he said.
Tangible results and students’ positive feedback on the program fueled the decision to offer the Career Accelerator program during the extended winter term, November 30-January 22.
“Career development is a journey. At times individuals are confident and know they can push themselves, and other times, people are not quite sure which direction to take. This program was innovated out of COVID-19 internship cancelations but was purposefully crafted to be a long-lasting program to support students in their career exploration, as well as gain targeted experience and skills to feel confident to lead the future of business,” said Hageman.
To learn more about the program, apply for the winter session or view participants’ final projects, visit: https://business.unl.edu/careeraccelerator.