The business program at Augustana College is outperforming other colleges and universities across the nation when it comes to students' satisfaction with their academic experience, according to local and national polling data.
The surveys showed Augustana students far ahead in the area of job-related internships. When business graduates in a national Gallup poll were asked whether they had an internship during college that allowed them to apply their classroom skills to the real world, only 29 percent indicated they had. That contrasts with 82 percent of business majors at Augustana, which is the result of concerted efforts to match as many business students as possible with internships in their field of interest.
"It has given me valuable experience that will put me ahead of other students looking for jobs," said Christian Schroeder '15, an intern with John Deere, a Fortune 500 company with headquarters in Moline, Ill. "I have also received a job offer for a full-time position after graduation."
Schroeder is pursuing a double major in computer science and business administration. He began working in information technology at Deere as a sophomore, helping to monitor and maintain its computer network.
In the Gallup poll, nearly 30,000 business graduates were asked about their college experience. Their answers were compared to survey data from business students collected by Mark Salisbury, assistant dean and director of assessment and institutional research at Augustana. In addition to the comparison of internship experiences, here are other highlights of the survey data:
• 48 percent of Augustana business students strongly agree their major advisor genuinely cares about their development as a whole person. In the Gallup poll, only 21 percent strongly agree they had a similar experience at their college.
• 100 percent of Augustana students engage in Senior Inquiry, an opportunity to integrate the content from across their coursework and apply their educational experience to address real-world challenges during their senior year. In the Gallup poll, just 32 percent of respondents had worked on a project that took a term or more to complete.
• 25 percent of Augustana business students say their major advisor inquires about their career goals and aspirations "very often." In the Gallup poll, just 14 percent of respondents reported having a similar experience in college.
Projects and mentors
The participation rate of 100 percent for Senior Inquiry holds special meaning for Darien Marion-Burton '15, a business major who aspires to an administrative career in higher education. He said his experience with Senior Inquiry, a research project with Dr. Amanda Baugous and Dr. Kelly Weeks, has been as valuable as a full-fledged internship in terms of teaching critical skills.
"I absolutely believe there is value in completing long-term projects," Marion-Burton said. "The skills that you learn are directly transferable to the job market.
"For example, you have to set your own deadlines, hold yourself accountable for completing work on time, effectively evaluate work before turning it in, and communicate with professionals in the field. I think that these are the skills that employers want in their employees."
While working on their projects, Augustana students have the benefit of faculty consultations and advice, and these faculty relationships often grow into mentorships.
Kamneev Rai '16 is pursuing a triple major in music, music education and business administration. Faculty mentors have played a huge role, she said, in helping her focus on her career goal to become a director and conductor for a collegiate or professional orchestra.
"In all honesty, I was not expecting to be given the amount of encouragement, support and accountability I have received from the faculty," said Rai. "This has happened thanks to two mentors."
Naturally, she says, one is her orchestra director, Dr. Daniel Culver, professor of music and conductor of the Augustana College Symphony Orchestra. And the other is her business advisor, Dr. Gregory Tapis, assistant professor of business administration, who she said has given an exceptional amount of time and care to her career goals.
"He has shown a true commitment to my success in the future," Rai said.