This September, The University of Akron opened its newest building on campus – the 11,850-square-foot Anthony J. Alexander Professional Development Center that will serve as a one-stop training spot for students in the College of Business Administration (CBA). The building has a singular focus that is highly supported by the Northeast Ohio business community – developing business students into confident young professionals and future star employees.
The business community believes so strongly in the delivery of student professional development that 280 donors provided funding for the $5.45 million building. The Center and its initiatives are in response to advice from the College of Business Advancement Council and departmental advisory boards consisting of more than 270 business executives from throughout the region.
“The support from our donors for this construction is a real statement of confidence in what we are doing,” said Susan Hanlon, Ph.D., interim dean of the CBA. “These relationships with the business community and the support we receive from them are what helps to make our business programs so successful.”
Career Ready and Connected
The success of which Hanlon speaks is demonstrated through the CBA students. Approximately 80% of students in the College of Business Administration participate in internships, and more than 96% receive jobs within six months of graduation. The Center will become the hub of activity that contributes to CBA graduates becoming “Career Ready and Connected,” helping foster future success by housing CBA professional development resources in one location and encouraging collaboration and robust connections between students, faculty, and professionals. Ultimately, this gives UA students an even stronger competitive edge.
That competitive edge is developed through “the EDGE” program (Exploring Degree Goals and Experiences), a professional development series designed to help CBA students focus on events and experiences that lead to career readiness.
“Participating in the EDGE program is not required of students, yet it has become a valued part of our culture,” said Hanlon. “Students participate in our programs on their own time because they understand how important it is to their future. Local businesses participate in and endorse our professional development events because they see the results in our students.”
Focus on career development
The Professional Development Center, named after Anthony J. Alexander (a UA graduate and former executive at FirstEnergy Corp.), will allow students and area professionals to interact in professional settings that are often found in business environments such as a formal board room, corporate classrooms, professional meeting rooms (that can be used for internship and job interviews), and a communications lab.
The Center also contains a business analytics lab and a practice presentation room where students can record themselves and receive presentation skills coaching. Also included are offices for professional development staff, student learning and technology commons, and offices for the Institute for Leadership Advancement. The new facilities align well with the EDGE program, helping students to receive academic preparation, personal leadership training, business communication training, networking opportunities, internships, and global experiences.
“We are truly thankful to the many donors who have shown confidence in our programs and in the university,” said Kim Cole, vice president of advancement and executive director of the UA Foundation.
“Akron is a wonderfully supportive community and we value the relationships we have with the businesses and the professionals who call it home.”