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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2019 The Next Carson Coug

Carson Amplifier Program
Increases the Power
of Carson Cougs' Employability

Story by Sue McMurray

While most employers laud the technical skills Carson Cougs have and appreciate their scrappiness and willingness to take on any task to get the job done, many Carson Cougs—and, really, business graduates everywhere—need to work on their soft skills to be career-ready. More complicated is the fact that where undergraduates are concerned, the definition of career readiness itself has often been elusive.

Through a concerted research effort, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently identified several key career readiness competencies that will enable higher education leaders, workforce developers, and public policy makers to develop measurable milestones to close the gap between higher education and the world of work.

Springing off these national competencies is the new Carson Career Amplifier Program that supports The Next Carson Coug undergraduate initiative. Using NACE’s competencies, the Carson Center for Student Success developed the amplifier program to ensure Carson Cougs are as prepared as possible for their careers, says Suzi Billington, Carson Center director.

Students may expect to spend about 7–10 cocurricular hours (hours outside of normal study) per year; however, as they get involved in leadership activities and high-impact learning experiences, the amount of cocurricular hours spent will increase. For example, over the course of one academic year, a student could spend about 26 hours in club meetings, a summer internship could total 300–400 hours, and a six-week study abroad experience could average about 250 hours.

Measuring Milestones

Students’ progress each year will be tracked as a milestone in the myWSU system. The first year milestone must be met for certification into the Carson College, and all milestones must be met prior to graduation.

“Prior to the amplifier program, we did not track students’ cocurricular activities and involvement,” says Billington. “The amplifier program will allow us to track student engagement and ensure that all business students are involved in the career and professional development activities that will help them land a great job once they graduate.”

Amplifier program competencies focus on communication, leadership, professionalism, and career management across four years of undergraduate study. Examples of eligible cocurricular activities include such things as:

  • networking events
  • attending lectures to learn about business from industry leaders
  • mock and real interviews
  • work experience
  • internships, both domestic and international
  • business consulting projects and business plan competitions
  • leadership roles in student organizations and government
  • goal setting and career planning

Paying It Forward

After receiving years of career coaching and professional development, graduating seniors will complete perhaps the ultimate level of professionalism—choosing how they want to leave a positive impact on others within WSU, their organizations, or communities.

Students will give back to the next generation of Cougs following in their footsteps by becoming a mentor, tutor, or ambassador for the Carson College or WSU, or becoming a teaching/research assistant or resident advisor, or mentoring the next student leaders in their student organization or living group who will be replacing them upon graduation. They may also volunteer their time with a community organization, or propose another option to meet the learning goal.

“Students will be involved in mentoring and helping others, giving of their time and talents, and focusing on leaving a positive impact on something larger than themselves,” says Billington. “We really want them to consider what legacy they want to leave behind.”

To learn more about supporting the Carson Amplifier Program or other Next Carson Coug initiatives,
contact Jeff Pilcher, director of development, at 509-335-8906 or