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July 7, 2010 Volume 31, No. 33

Summit eases students’ transition from backpack to briefcase

Job fare

Mizzou collaborates with business to meet their changing needs

It was a win-win situation. In June, dozens of businesses came to campus to learn how to better collaborate with MU to prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

Mizzou, in turn, learned how such collaborations could ensure that the academic programs offered and the quality of graduates produced meet the changing needs of industries so that the transition from backpack to briefcase will be smoother.

The joining of forces took place June 23 at Mizzou’s first ever Employer Summer Summit, held at the Reynolds Alumni Center and Cornell Hall. Throughout the day, 102 representatives from 61 visiting businesses, the majority of which are Fortune 500 companies, got firsthand knowledge of how Mizzou could help them reach their recruiting goals.

They attended workshops and an MU Showcase Fair, and took campus tours. The night before, members of the athletics department hosted a welcome reception at Mizzou Arena.

The summit was born out of an idea from the MU Career Services Council, said Tim McIntosh, assistant director of business career services for the Robert J. Trulaske College of Business. The bottom line was to beef up job prospects for MU’s students. While the overall theme was “Showing our Stripes,” the underlying message was: If you want dibs on students at the top of their field, get involved and partner with the university.

“This was a chance to collaborate and showcase what MU and corporate partners have had in the past and currently, and where we can take that in the future,” McIntosh said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to provide opportunities for our students.”

One piece of evidence pointing to this goal is MU’s commitment to position its curricula and programs with corporate needs. Rashel Kelly, senior team leader of campus recruiting for Cerner Corp., gave an example of how the company and MU are working together to thwart the shortage of engineers nationwide.

What started as a brief hallway chat last summer resulted in a pilot program in Kansas City in which students can go from high school to a community college and intern at Cerner. Afterward, the students may choose to stay at Cerner or finish their education at Mizzou.

“This project proved the university is nimble and responsive to your request,” said Kelly, who received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration from Mizzou.

“This took a highly collaborative effort and broad thinking to get off the ground in six months,” she said. “This
is what you get when you partner with the University of Missouri. In less than a year, we have 30 students on board and a new curriculum and a certificate program. I doubt that we’d be able to partner with other institutions that quickly.”

Charles Hunter, regional human resources manager for Commerce Bank, says he appreciated MU’s faculty, staff and students taking the initiative to put the summit together and hopes it will be repeated next year. “Commerce has a long history and a deep relationship with Mizzou,” he says. “We’ve done a lot of presentations on campus, worked with many programs and helped with internships and job shadows, but this gave us one time to hear from many areas at once. We want to deepen our partnership with Mizzou.”

The summit also gave representatives from the bank an opportunity to hear an overview of MU’s diversity efforts. “While we think we are doing and have done some good things with minority support, at the summit we began to explore additional ways that we can assist with employment and retention of minorities,” says Hunter, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mizzou. “We see it as a partnership of supporting a positive campus environment for minorities.”

To learn more about the summit, call McIntosh at 882-9408 or e-mail