A new career development course called On-Campus Experiential Learning (CRDEV 199R) will give students opportunities to work in teams of four to five with actual employers on projects, said Mark MacDonald, director of Alumni & Career Services. “The course provides employers the equivalence of an intern. It will feel more like a job than a class,” he said.
He said the three credit multidisciplinary class will start in Fall 2017 and focus on teamwork, internship preparation, networking, and career management.
MacDonald said the class is based off of one he took at BYU at Provo. Roger McCarty, a business professor, started it 13 years ago after noticing internships and jobs were becoming more competitive. “Roger observed students were not able to compete as effectively to large companies against students from colleges that are in metropolitan areas,” said MacDonald.
The class in Provo has grown from 30 to 1,100 students, and they worked on 220 projects last semester, according to MacDonald. “Roger created the course to address the problem. He thought students needed experience to qualify for internships and jobs,” he said. “I was on a project for a local employer, and I helped them market [themselves].”
McCarty spent three years putting all the content online, said MacDonald. “McCarty is very generous to share the course content with us. He could charge us for the course, but out of his desire to help BYU-Hawaii students, he is giving it entirely free.
“All I have to do is travel to Provo, bring my flash drive, and copy the course.”
The class will meet twice a week and it will be split in two, he said. “One of those two days is the actual class discussion, and the other day is when students will work as teams on their projects… They will work eight to nine hours a week on a project, which is the same amount of time they work for a three credit hour class.”
The class is trained once a week on all the things they need right when they need to know it, he added. “Students are taught how to set a timeline, maintain a budget, and keep track of the projects in a team. In the first two to three weeks, students will learn how to establish a relationship with an employer as an independent contractor. The role of the student is the role of an independent contractor.
“Halfway through the semester, students will administer a 360-feedback survey where everybody rates each one on the team.”
Students who take the course will gain experience in a way they otherwise would not be able to, said MacDonald. The credit and experience may lead to an internship or even a job. “Students build their resume through a class while learning new skills, making friends, and good networking connections. They will be put in good contact with employers and people in the professional world.”
There will be a lot of real experience that will be achieved by students who participate in the course, he added. “On their transcript it shows as a course, while on their resume it will show up as an experience. It is advisable for students to include the course as a project for an employer under their experience section of their resume.”
Keni Kalama, relationship manager at Career Services, said the new course is a good experience for students. He said, “The little projects they have to work on are very useful. They get the learning opportunity that can develop into an internship, and from there it can turn to a job. It is also mutually beneficial for the university and the company we are working with.
“I have been telling the companies that I meet about the course, and they are excited for what we can do. They do not mind the assistance or additional work, and they like the fact that we are willing to provide insights to projects they are working on.”
Kalama explained how different the responses from companies are compared to how he thought they would react. “I thought it would be hard to get experiences from companies, but I think it will be harder to have students get excited about it.”
The course is a good professional development for students to see what they might be experiencing in a specific field or industry, said Kalama. “Having deadlines, [being] accountable for projects, and a good environment to learn will be practiced in the course.”
Kalama encouraged students to look for companies they want to work with. “For students who are interested working in a specific area, it wouldn’t hurt if you reach out to the company you want to work for. They could even ask help from us to reach out on their behalf. We might be able to help create an opportunity.”
Kaotitera Rawita, a junior majoring in Pacific Island studies from Kiribati, said the class will make it easier for students to get internships. “Through the class, students will learn the step-by-step process to get in the job they want. I hope I can take it next semester because I’m struggling with my internship now.
“We came here for education, and I think it is the best class to prepare us to fulfill our dreams. It will help us in every step of our career we go through,” Rawita continued.
Arthur del Carmen, a sophomore studying TESOL from the Philippines, said he thinks the new course will be effective for students. “I have never heard of such a class like this that helps students with career opportunities. Aside from focusing on major classes, we can finally look forward to job opportunities.”
He added, “Even though I have plans for my internship, I still have a fear where I want to go. Good thing through the new course I will have options to choose from.”
Macdonald said some experience is better than none. He said, “It does not matter what your first job is. Getting zero experience on your resume is the worst option, so my advice for everyone is to get some experience.
“Everyone in the university is invited to enroll. The course will be inherently multidisciplinary, and…is intended for everyone to gain experience.”