With the introduction of two new graduate programs in the last three years, the Office of Graduate Programs staff at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business developed professional development curriculum to better prepare graduate students for the workforce. Students earning degrees in either the new master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration (MAIAA) or a master of arts in business administration (MABA) are the first to benefit from the workshop-based curriculum.
Executive Director of Graduate Programs Dr. Jake Messersmith said, “We designed the professional development courses so students will be prepared when looking for internships while in the program and in their job search post-graduation. We have created an extensive support system for our graduate students so they feel confident and prepared when they enter the job market.”
MAIAA students study for two years and complete a year-long guaranteed internship with the Nebraska Department of Athletics. MABA students start and complete their degree in 11 months including a three-month internship.
To create the individual courses to meet the needs of both graduate programs, staff partnered with Mark Pogue, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute, and Celeste Spier, associate director for career services and professional development. The workshops provide information on everything from dining etiquette to career planning and résumé writing, and are built into the curriculum of each graduate program. The curriculum builds upon the career services recognized as the No. 4 in the world by Financial Times that are offered to graduate students by Career Services at CBA.
In October, first-year MAIAA students and the MABA students participated in a StrengthsFinder workshop with CBA which boasts the only strengths research lab hosted at a university, and business students take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test to determine their top five strengths prior to attending the workshop. Then Pogue helped students determine how their strengths play a vital role in their work habits and ways to relay them to their future employers.
“I approach every workshop I lead on strengths-based development anticipating everyone is asking why, as in why is this information valuable to me?” Mark Pogue said. “When I conduct a workshop for masters level students, the best why answer is often an in-depth knowledge of your own personal strengths as you pursue positions in your field. Once you land a great job, strengths provide a framework for being engaged in the work you do every day.”
The StrengthsFinder workshop and others like it are built into the curriculum of the MAIAA program, so the time spent focusing on professional development actually earns students credit hours. MAIAA students participate in one of these workshops at least twice per semester in conjunction with their Managerial Skills Seminar (GRBA 898).
MABA students start with a professional development boot camp with Career Services at CBA before classes even begin and then attend monthly workshops. Throughout the 11 months, they meet with career coaches to reach checkpoints, such as résumé building or interview preparation to prepare for their post-graduate school jobs.
Through this unique curriculum, both programs boast successful job placement after college from the 2016 graduation class. For example, recent MABA graduate Brandon Nygard ’16 secured his dream job as an operations manager at Connell Cattle Feeders in Warden, Washington, and MAIAA graduate Matt Henry ’16 works as ticketing and engagement strategy and analytics coordinator in the Nebraska Department of Athletics.