“My goal is for our students to leave with a job and take the next step.”
Sarah Nutter, Edward Maletis Dean, Lundquist College of Business
The Lillis Complex, home of the Lundquist College of Business, is a landmark on the University of Oregon campus. With its floor-to-ceiling solar glazing, a huge “O” on the south facade and a light-flooded atrium, it has been a photogenic hub for Ducks since it opened in 2003.
A recent redesign of the complex underscores a driving focus of the college: career readiness. Visitors entering Lillis from the south will now see the Lundquist photos on the left side of the atrium and the Mohr Career Services on the right. The message: careers are not a by-product of higher education, they are the goal – and students begin their journey as soon as they step into the building.
The reorganization of the room in Lillis is not the only evidence of the emphasis on vocational preparation in the business school. New initiatives, networking platforms and gifts connect students, alumni and employers like never before.
Mohr Career Services recently unveiled the Lundquist Career Fundamentals, a compulsory coursework embedded in certain core courses that requires every student to think seriously about the future and take steps towards their professional goals.
For example, students in lecturer Erik Ford’s business analytics class learn to use Microsoft Excel and the job market. Jessica Best, Senior Associate Director of Mohr Career Services, visits weekly and assigns students to brainstorm careers, contact alumni in those careers, and prepare for briefings.
These activities, according to Ford, BS ’13 (General Social Sciences), MBA ’15, help students discover careers, land internships, and build the professional skills that make them competitive applicants.
“When you have these kinds of things along with your college degree, you go high in an interview,” he says. “You definitely feel good at promoting yourself and standing out from the crowd.”
Last September, Mohr Career Services also launched Lundquist Connect, an online platform on which students can contact alumni, employers, recruiters and colleagues. Students can meet professionals, ask questions, and find mentors. The platform uses an algorithm to suggest professionals and others who share the interests of the students. Around 800 alumni and 800 students take part.
Bailey Hartwick, junior business administration and first generation college student, says connecting with professionals is critical to building their careers.
Hartwick often reached out to people on the online labor service LinkedIn to network, but the response rate was low: for every tenth person she contacted, they might hear from one. When she first used Lundquist Connect, she sent a message to 20 people; Within days, 18 of them replied – and all agreed to take part in informational interviews.
“I wanted to find out more about people’s career paths, how they got into the positions they were in, why they chose this path,” she says. “The next couple of weeks were insanely quick, just talking to all of these amazing people.”
Hartwick credits these conversations with helping her get an internship as a social media marketing manager at Rituals + Alchemy, a holistic wellness brand in San Francisco.
For Joel Wyman, who is pursuing an MBA in the sports business, Lundquist Connect makes sending messages to strangers a lot less intimidating. “People have already signed up and are keen to speak to current students or other professionals in the industry so that you can get that awkward part out of the way,” he says.
Sarah Nutter, Edward Maleti’s dean of the Business College, aims to ensure that every business student gains a year of professional experience before graduation.
To that end, the college hosts more than a dozen groups for students to gain leadership experience – including the Oregon Consulting Group, Women in Business Club, UO Investment Group, and Warsaw Sports Business Club.
For Nutter, academic success isn’t just about getting a degree, it’s about preparing for what comes after graduation.
“My goal is for our students to leave with a job and take the next step,” she says. “When you leave, you have a plan for what you are going to do, and that gives you a solid step towards what you will be for the rest of your life.”
Much of the school’s career preparation efforts are made possible with the help of donors, most notably Jay Mohr, BS ’76 (Marketing), and his wife Kim.
A large donation from the Mohrs in 2018 bolstered career services, funded scholarships, and enabled the school to implement Salesforce, relationship management software that helps the school stay in touch with employers.
For Mohr, the new location of the Career Services on the first floor and the new vocational preparation programs are important steps that prepare students for the next steps in life.
“Get in early – think about it,” he says. “Start with the goal in mind and then work towards it.”
—By Emily E. Smith, BA ’10 (Women’s and Gender Studies, Journalism: Newsroom), a writer and editor based in Bozeman, Montana
—Photo of Lillis Complex with flowers in the foreground by Bob Delsol