As construction crews fasten the literal pipework of the Scott L. Carmona College of Business expansion in time for the facility’s first classes in 2020, the figurative pipeline connecting its students with future employers continues to widen.
Through the work of staff and faculty members committed to strengthening SVSU’s connections to organizations — largely located in the region but also including agencies stretching across the continent — the university’s pipeline to jobs is as healthy as ever, campus leaders say. While that network benefits students in all five of SVSU’s academic colleges, the $25 million building expansion opening in 2020 is putting the university’s business industry resources in focus.
“SVSU is now the biggest source of incoming talent we have in our office,” said Ken Leslie, who managed hiring at public accounting firm Plante Moran’s Flint office for nine years before recently retiring.
“What we’ve found with our SVSU graduates is when they come in and start working for us, they are ready to roll. They’re people who we can take out and introduce to our clients right away.”
Plante Moran is one of many organizations that have grown dependent upon the pipeline of talent that originates in SVSU’s business classrooms, offering everything from accounting internships to full-time jobs in marketing. With some organizations, those internships turn into full-time job offers extended before the student has even graduated from SVSU.
And the organizations offering such opportunities vary in size and location, from global leaders in industry such as Dow to local organizations including The Saginaw Spirit hockey team.
The pipeline to jobs for SVSU students was built long ago by some of the university’s original faculty members dedicated to building relationships with companies hoping to court prospective employees. The pipeline has grown even more robust as one particular office on campus — Career Services — reinforced established relationships and created additional partnerships with companies seeking new blood.
“Companies are, across the board, partnering with every Career Services office in every university,” said Bill Stec, interim director of Career Services. “That is their go-to place to then connect with the faculty, connect with the classrooms, student organizations and get in front of the students outside of the walls of the employment fairs.”
In part for his work establishing that talent pipeline from SVSU’s business students to employers, Stec in June 2019 earned the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance’s 2018-2019 Career Services Professional of the Year award.
“Companies call us and say, ‘I need a marketing intern, give me your best and brightest,’” Stec said. “So then, I go back to who we’ve seen in the office, who I’ve communicated with in the classroom, and I will build that relationship with the student. It’s like we’re the matchmakers, and the employers trust us, because they know we know our students.”
Along with Career Services staff, College of Business faculty also work to establish those connections with employers. They also provide guidance that leads to those jobs.
Mary Kreider, who graduated from SVSU with a bachelor’s degree in professional accountancy in 2005, has worked at Yeo & Yeo for 13 years. Today, she serves as a senior manager in the consulting department in Saginaw.
She in part credited her hiring at Yeo & Yeo on the networking advice provided to her by SVSU business faculty such as Mark McCartney, professor of accounting.
“He’s always promoted using the resources that are available on campus, like the mock interviews and resume workshops,” Kreider said. “Those were very helpful to me in college.”
McCartney said building an extensive network of relationships with employers was a priority for him when he joined SVSU in 1999. McCartney worked with recruiters from local firms to help place accounting students in entry-level jobs in the field.
His time spent building those pipelines of talent — and watching students and alumni benefit from the work — showed him the value of the connections established between SVSU’s College of Business and the businesses that hire its graduates.
“I know all the area employers and I work with them a lot,” McCartney said. “I know how sought-after our students are.”