Purdue University's
School of Management
Spring 2022:
Issue 23, Vol. 1

Building a Network - Alumni engagement integral to course redesign

In redesigning Career Readiness & Exploration (MGMT 295), two key goals guided the process. The first was to continue refining it from an upper-division course into one for freshmen and sophomores.

The second was to further restructure it under the IMPACT (Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation) model by incorporating more active and collaborative learning as well as other student-centered teaching and learning practices and technologies that foster student engagement and competence, as well as increased attainment of course-specific learning outcomes.

The latter meant involving alumni in the course at multiple stages, beginning with an “alumni connect” activity that assigned individual students to an alum or other working professional. Previously, teams of students were assigned to make the connection, reducing the opportunity for one-on-one interaction.

The students were tasked with researching careers, connecting with alumni on LinkedIn, the Krannert Network or their company’s website, and providing a list of questions to ask in an informational interview. They asked alums about courses they wished they had taken and experiences they had at Purdue that helped them in their career. Students connected with alumni and professionals working in their field of interest for mock interviews again about midway through the course, as well as at the end for capstone presentations.

Alumnus Jeffrey Wang, now an external manufacturing capital analyst at The Kraft Heinz Company, describes it as one of the most important courses he took at Purdue.

“It gives indispensable career tips that help you to build a resume, develop a particular brand, and learn how to build an extensive network,” he says. “The alumnus I connected with was a manager at Amazon who promoted the company’s inclusive working environment, opportunities for promotion and positive company culture. My interview with him encouraged my interest in the field of supply chain and motivated me to pursue more opportunities into activities I’m passionate about.”

Dakota Bliler, currently a financial analyst at MUFG, SEC Reporting, concurs.

"MGMT 295 is ideal for the rising Krannert leader because it hones key professional skills,” she says. “My favorite aspect of the course was the mock interview where students refine their skills while still engaging with real recruiters. I was fortunate enough to earn an internship through this exercise and will always be grateful for such a beneficial opportunity."

Dhruv Patel, now business operations manager at Repeat, says the course structure kept him engaged throughout the semester. “Students with and without professional experience can engage and learn something each day,” he says. “I felt a sense of preparedness and confidence at career fairs and networking events that I had not possessed before completing the course.”

The course also has been a hit with alumni participants, including Jeff Powers (BSIM ’79), a retired executive at IBM Global Services.

“As someone who has recruited talent nationally in consulting and business development, I can quickly size up a school’s professional and career development programs based upon how the typical student performs at a career fair or in other informal settings,” he says. “The Krannert students who have taken MGMT 295 are, by and large, at a much higher level of career professionalism than students from other schools. They are on par with many MBA students.”

While students and alumni alike are quick to give credit to the instructors for their management of the course, the efforts of Amber Watkins and Jackie Knotts from Krannert’s alumni relations team were also critical.

“The partnership our office has with the MGMT 295 team is invaluable,” Watkins says. “We are able to engage hundreds of alumni each semester in a meaningful way that allows alumni to have an impact on our students. We have been thrilled to support the growth of this program and expand it not only the reach to our students, but also to our alumni.”

For more information, contact Amber Watkins, director of alumni relations, at 765-496-2618 or krannertalumni@purdue.edu.

Written by Eric Nelson

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