“Experience is the teacher of all things.” In our rapidly globalising workforce, this quote rings truer than ever. Today, a university degree is no longer an added advantage to land yourself a job; it’s a prerequisite. A survey found that two-thirds of employers will actively look for graduates with relevant work experience in addition to the academic qualifications needed for the job.
Employers know that work experience allows students to develop the skills they need to succeed in the real world, such as adaptability, problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking. Despite the demand for this, most universities are not producing enough career-ready graduates. One-third of employers felt that university graduates did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job, citing that students do not learn the necessary soft skills at university level.
Bushnell University is actively working to combat this deficit. First established in 1895, Bushnell University is dedicated to helping its students live purpose-driven lives. It is situated in Eugene, Oregon, providing for a healthy mix of tranquillity and activity — making it a perfect environment for any aspiring university student.
Here, students receive an excellent education with real-world experience in a supportive and friendly environment, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the School of Business, Leadership, and Technology. Its undergraduate, online, and graduate programmes across business, accounting, technology and criminology were designed to meet the constantly evolving needs of our global workforce.
They are centred around a field experience component, commonly referred to as Bushnell’s Internship Programme. For 16 weeks, students gain real-life exposure in their field at an organisation that fits with their career aspirations, all of which contribute back to Oregon’s wider community.
Dean of Career and Academic Resources Angela Doty is a Bushnell graduate herself. She completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and graduate programme in counselling here. After gaining significant professional experience, she returned to Bushnell because she felt a “calling” to the university. Today, she devotes her time to coordinating and supervising the undergraduate internship programme and providing career counselling for all students.
“I fell in love with helping students in their decision-making process, first in where to study and then what to do with their degree,” she shares. “Experiential learning is important for students because it provides opportunities to build skills in communication, critical thinking, and teamwork. Many students also enhance their understanding and application of technology – beyond writing research papers to using databases and cloud-based platforms to manage and process information, compile reports, and increase efficiency.”
Students are supported through their academic and internship pursuits every step of the way, and can approach Doty — or the wider Career Development team at Bushnell for a variety of services. This includes everything from advice on their resumes to events, workshops, and classroom presentations designed to help them achieve their goals.
“We meet students where they are at and help them identify steps that they can take to become more comfortable with the process in preparation for an internship,” explains Doty. “Sometimes that ranges from role-playing a phone call or helping them draft an introductory email to participating in a mock interview or attending a networking event. Many of the events, workshops, and classroom presentations offered by Career Development are designed to help students develop the skills they need to be ready by the time they reach the internship requirement.”
Internships can be secured through a variety of ways. Some opt to use the university’s dedicated online platform for jobs and internships — Handshake — while others take advantage of Bushnell’s multitude of partnerships and connections with local organisations. Typically, students land gigs in digital marketing, management, operations, sales, human resources, accounting, data analytics, finance, entrepreneurship, and/or consulting at marketing firms, start-ups, banks, financial institutions, accounting firms, non-profit organisations, corporations, and real estate companies.
Students have the option of applying directly through a company’s website or through their own personal networks too. “We want students to develop the skills necessary for conducting a job search, so we use the internship process as a model, providing ongoing coaching and support, yet leaving room for students to take ownership of their choices as they navigate the process,” explains Doty.
In addition, students receive individualised career coaching, tailor-made to ensure they can reach their full potential. “The most rewarding part of my position is coming along with students as they discern and discover their strengths,” says Doty. “I love watching the light bulb go on as students deepen their understanding of who they are and gain confidence in their ability to make informed decisions about their future.”
It’s only natural, then, that Bushnell students graduate with the skills and expertise necessary to become fully-realised professionals in their fields. Ninety-five percent of internship supervisors rate the career-readiness of Bushnell students as above average or exceptional.
By the time they graduate, Bushnell students are able to secure a job almost immediately. In fact, 83% of graduates land jobs in their field of study within six months of graduation. “Bushnell graduates bring experience with them,” says Doty.