LSA’s Opportunity Hub offers companies a creative approach to student engagement and recruiting
The Opportunity Hub at U-M’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts has been a fascinating young program to watch develop. What began as student internship opportunities identified through relationships with alumni has flourished into a comprehensive suite of programs and services for students – and for companies.
Started four years ago from the seed of an idea to support student-alumni-industry connections to serving now as a literal hub of opportunity and action, the Hub has some compelling programs for companies to connect with students in creative ways.
“Connecting LSA students to employers is one of the ways we are facilitating career exploration for students but also supporting employers’ recruiting efforts. Through our Employer Engagement team, we’re working in partnership with employers to host exploratory (on-campus) and applied (internships) learning opportunities which are exclusive to undergraduate LSA students. The Hub’s new space in the newly renovated LSA building is designed to support this: there are a variety of interview rooms where students and employers can meet for informational sessions or recruiting connections,” says Paula Wishart, director of the Hub and LSA’s assistant dean of student development and career initiatives.
While the Hub hosts a lot of career services programs you might expect, they have some unique programs that nicely dovetail with strategic priorities of companies on campus.
The BEC thought you should know about some compelling new offerings that may be of interest:
Coffee chats are one of the best ways employers can connect with students. These are one-on-one mini information sessions that bring an employer representative together with a student to discuss a case study, conduct a résumé review, or have an informational interview. For students, Coffee Chats provide an opportunity to uncover their interests and identify talents in this work that can help guide career and academic exploration. For employers, Coffee Chats help build awareness amongst LSA students and educate them on the variety of work that exists within a company or organization, as part of a larger talent acquisition strategy.
Employer-led workshops are an opportunity for company executives to lead a workshop on a specific topic relevant to their experience and of interest to students. A new program, these workshops are of high interest to students and companies alike. They offer a unique environment for dialogue around a specific topic and the chance for students to gain valuable information while making connections with potential employers. A recent workshop included a program in which Airbnb came to campus to lead students through the work of content strategy development.
The Hub has held a few Industry Insiders programs, industry-focused programs that convene titans from a variety of companies within the same industry for roundtable discussions with students. A 2019 event highlighting various aspects of the finance world included finance executives from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Develop Detroit, Citi, and others.
An effective way to connect with this talented group of students is through the Hub’s Internship Program. At their essence, internships are transformative experiential learning opportunities that give students a real taste of what different careers are like; provide a deeper understanding of organizations and their work; and help students assess if these roles (or industries) are something they truly want to pursue — ultimately better preparing students to contribute to your organization.
The Hub’s fundamental approach to employer engagement is a partnership model with firms and employers. In partnering with an organization the Hub asks for their time and talent in creating student-facing programming that helps students explore and experience industries and roles in order to identify the work that best aligns with their academic, personal, professional desires. In turn, students gain a more meaningful connection to a company than a standard campus information session fosters, and this creates a deeper awareness of what an organization has to offer.
This makes for better connections with students and makes better employees at companies.
Students are looking for their first job, but they want guidance in figuring out what the world of work looks like, too. The 18,000 emerging young professionals at LSA have a broad range of career interests, technical competencies, and professional skills.
The breadth and depth of students and their interests presents a large pool of future talent for companies. Shares Wishart, “With over 85 majors and 100 minors across 75 academic departments, liberal arts and sciences students are seeking career clarity and methods for translating their liberal arts experiences into purposeful and meaningful work. The Hub partners with students to provide opportunities to explore careers, and connect with employers, internships, and jobs that matter to them.”
No cookie cutter service
With programs like these offered at different scales, organizations can work with the Hub to identify the right way to get in front of student populations based on their specific needs.
More than just internships, the Hub showcases creative ways companies can add value to the student experience, interact with students they may want to hire, and develop more visibility on campus.
Liberal arts graduates have gotten a lot of attention in the past few years as a highly sought-after group that adds a lot of value to organizations. “It’s the multidisciplinary thinking,” says Stella Wixom at the Business Engagement Center. “Companies we work with seek students who are connecting the dots in different ways. Their broad exposure to the humanities, physical and social sciences – and more, gives students a different mindset for problem solving, managing, and team collaboration. We see broad interest in engaging with liberal arts students and are excited to have such a variety of new programs giving these students exposure to companies through the Hub.”
To connect with the LSA Opportunity Hub, sign up to join their network at umichlsa-csm.symplicity.com and their Employer Engagement team will be in touch to explore ways of engaging with LSA students.