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Washington State University
Dividend - Fall 2022 Features

High Impact Learning Experiences Elevate Seniors’ Career Readiness

By Sue McMurray

Kaiya Phillips experiencing falconry while studying abroad in Dubai.
Photo courtesy of Kaiya Phillips.

Griffin Sissel
Courtesy of Griffin Sissel
Like all Next Carson Coug seniors, Griffin Sissel was required to complete a high impact learning experience (HILE) that is part of the Carson College Career Amplifier program. The HILE requirement falls under the program’s career and self-development distinction badge students earn before graduation.

The goal is to help seniors transition from a college student into a professional and develop valuable skills employers seek.

“As I progressed in my college experience, I was always looking for more hands-on learning, something practical and easily translated to the real world after college,” says Sissel. “I chose the Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor and Analysis (MAP) student consultancy program because I knew it would be high impact.”

Sissel worked with a team to help A.C.T. Builders LLC, a Vancouver construction company, to grow a new aspect of the company and successfully enter a thriving market. “I learned new marketing tactics, the importance of teamwork, and created relationships I’ll cherish for a lifetime,” he says. “This program was an amazing experience.”

“The high impact learning experience combines students’ technical knowledge learned in the classroom with their soft skills and career competencies,” says Michelle Chapman, assistant director for student engagement and career development. “It really gives them an opportunity to hone and learn new skills. Participation can be life changing.”

Personalized projects complement career interests

MAP is just one of many HILE options students have, as the purpose is for students to personalize their experience to their career intentions.

Acceptable experiences include internships; study abroad; research projects; participation in Boeing, Frank, or Corporate Scholars programs; MAP or Carson Business Solution courses; and competitions. Several types of projects also qualify, such as research, workplace, independent, student club/organization, or community service. It’s generic by design; students can fill out a proposal form to see if their idea fits requirements.

“We can make anything work within the constraints students face, for example a Global Campus student who is working full-time, may have kids at home, or is otherwise stacked with responsibilities,” says Chapman. “We’ll tailor projects to students’ degree interests.”

Study abroad leads to adaptability, self-awareness

Kaiya Phillips chose the college’s faculty-led study abroad program in the United Arab Emirates to meet her HILE requirement.

The sophomore studying international business and marketing visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Associate Professor Dipra Jha and a group of WSU students. They studied at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management for a week packed with intense cultural experiences, high-profile industry visits, and sessions with entrepreneurs, among other activities.

Natalie-Ann Clevenger
Courtesy of Natalie-Ann Clevenger
“The study abroad experience was perfect for me because I want to travel and work with people of international backgrounds,” says Phillips. She also developed stronger self-awareness and adaptability that will help her enter unfamiliar work environments. The experience created a bridge for her future plans of earning an MBA at the Emirates Academy and completing its internship program.

Internships build relevant industry experience

According to industry partners and companies who recruit Carson graduates, internships are one of the most valuable experiences companies look for in new hires, a finding the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) confirms in its 2022 Job Outlook report.

“Companies want to see students apply what they learn in the classroom in a professional work setting, which is what internships are all about,” says Suzi Billington, director of the Carson Center for Student Success. “Internships also tell employers the student is interested and committed to gaining industry relevant experience.”

Natalie-Ann Clevenger, a management information systems senior who would love to work in data or business analytics after graduation, completed a business development internship for Ku- -A-Kanaka LLC. The Hawaiian company promotes and advances Hawaiian language, culture, and tradition. Clevenger chose the internship because it closely aligned with her major. She focused on cleaning and sorting survey data the company planned to use to earn grants.

“This internship taught me how feedback data can be used to showcase a company’s success,” says Clevenger. “Not only have I gained a variety of technical skills related to my major, but I’ve earned a better understanding of the business world as a whole.”

Workplace project results in career insights

Torry Godwin
Courtesy of Torry Godwin
Nontraditional students like Torry Godwin may often choose a HILE workplace project to enhance their leadership and business skills, thereby adding value to their workplace. Godwin has worked in IT for over 25 years and is the chief information officer at Bluegrass Hive & Honey. He chose to create and run a tradeshow sales event at the company, which manufactures products made from honeybees.

“From this experience, I gained an ability to understand the needs of the marketing team and how I can build IT systems to help them,” he says. “Not only did I learn marketing terminology but also understood why there’s a constant shift in how IT supports the marketing side of the business. This insight will allow better future integration of the two efforts.”