Companies’ partnerships reap benefits for students

Earlier this semester, the John Brown University career development center reported that 99 percent of the graduating class of 2011 were employed or in graduate school.

The University’s work does not stop there. It continues to take further steps to ensure students are prepared as possible for post-graduation employment.

As part of its strategic plan, the University is formalizing partnerships with several corporations in northwest Arkansas. Now in year two of a three-year process, Chris Confer, director of career development, is working with the Cabinet to narrow the field down to 20 organizations.

These organizations meet three requirements, Confer said. One, they are for-profit organizations. Two, they are located in northwest Arkansas. And three, they collectively represent every major offered at the University.

“At the base level, for every single one of them, we need to be interacting with them where they are not necessarily hiring—because we couldn’t dictate that to them—but at least interviewing our students on a regular basis for jobs and internships,” Confer said. “And ideally, our students would be obtaining some of those here and there.”

Currently, Confer is working with the corporations to make sure they acknowledge the partnership and to explore what that could look like for each. These conversations work to move past the base level of providing interviews for jobs and internships.

As a result of conversations with Cintas, a company that provides everything from uniforms and apparel to first aid and safety, students from Gaining Opportunities for All our Lives, a student human resource club, were provided a chance to tour the facility and talk to the management about Cintas’ business.

Mandy Moore, associate professor of business, believes partnerships with these companies are “mutually beneficial for students, faculty, alumni and the partnering company.” As a professor in the College of Business, Moore said she is always looking for people to serve as guest speakers and final project evaluators.

“I find that students benefit from this interaction because they see they need to understand the content we are studying not only for the exam, but also for their career,” she said. “This stuff we are learning matters in the real world.”

Senior Brian Franz has already experienced that real world connection firsthand in his classes. He said hearing students share their internship experiences allowed him to see what those businesses are like on the other side.

“It builds on your network around here and you can point to things you are learning in your text and connect them to real businesses in your area,” he said.

Others, like senior Joe Randall, think these partnerships mainly benefit students planning on staying in the area.

“I wouldn’t get internships here because I’d probably get internships at home in Colorado where I spend most of my time when I’m not at school,” he said.

Yet both agreed the partnerships provided many opportunities.

“My goal with SIFE last semester was to get more connected and maybe score an internship for my last summer, but I never really got that experience,” Franz said. “So the fact that [JBU] is doing a project specifically devoted to these things would make it even easier and more accessible for students to take advantage of these opportunities.”

1. Walmart

2. Tyson

3. Hallmark

4. Rockfish Interactive (Electronic ad agency)

5. Nabholtz Construction

6. NWA area public schools

7. Procter and Gamble

8. Nestlé

9. DelMonte Foods

10. Cintas

11. Dayspring Cards

12. Cobb-Vantress

13. Allen’s Canning

14. Simmons Foods

15. Arvest Bank

16. LA-Z-BOY

17. KNWA News

18. Rockline Industries

19. Crafton Tull