The Conrad Prebys Career Services Center won’t be formally dedicated until March 23, but it’s been an active place for all students in the IU Kelley School of Business and corporate guests since the beginning of the spring semester.
This includes the 102 second-year Kelley Direct Online MBA students on campus March 3-9 for Kelley Connect Week, who met there with their Graduate Career Services coaches and took advantage of other resources offered at the school’s new $14 million Prebys Center.
The sessions were part of Kelley Direct’s comprehensive professional development program, which helps distinguish it from other online MBA programs. Having the new Prebys Center adds to the students’ experience, said Stephanie Gray, associate director of career services and professional development and one of the career coaches at Kelley.
“We have a wonderful facility,” Gray said. “I think the main differentiator between us and other online degree programs is that we are not taking the online student population and putting them aside. They are in the same building. They go to the same front desk. They go to the same coaches that our in-residence students go to.”
Spencer Hickman, of Chicago and a senior associate brand manager for a beverage company, agrees. “Having this as a resource as part of the online MBA has the opportunity to be extremely helpful,” he said. “Anything that can be done to integrate the online program with the residential program has the potential to increase the impact for Kelley Direct students.”
Coaches provide a personal approach
During their visit to IU Bloomington for Kelley Connect Week, students met with career coaches about a variety of personal needs and discussed how they could widen their professional networks. For some students, it was a time to review tactics, strategies and resumes. For others who foresee disruption at their companies, including a possible downsizing, they had someone to talk to about what career transition might be like.
“It’s almost like therapy in a sense,” said Nicole Kuebler, a digital marketing executive from Chicago. “They help you really step back and think about what you’re saying, about your goals and whether you want to take them in a different direction.”
Kuebler said her career coach encouraged her to take a broader view of her career goals, including helping her to think about new kinds of opportunities that haven’t yet been created but likely will be available when she graduates.
Robert “Dain” Anderson, a military veteran and a 20-year employee at a life sciences company in Indianapolis, said the coaches have helped him look past those two career spheres.
“I do truly appreciate that during our Kelley Connect Week that we all have the opportunity and an ability to come and directly focus and sit down with the people who will go into a deep dive into our career and discuss it. That is a great benefit,” Anderson said. “The next question is how well the students – it’s on us, right? – follow up with the career center and continue down the path and direction we were given. We need to understand that these are professionals at what they do – world-class.”
For Katie Wright, a financial planner from Carmel, Ind., Kelley Connect Week was a return to the IU Bloomington campus where she earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies, math and Spanish. After graduating, she spent six years abroad, including three years in China teaching at a university and schools in Shanghai. She said Kelley’s career coaches have helped her better understand what U.S. employers might be looking for from her.
“When I came back and started my MBA, I really didn’t know what a U.S. employer would be looking for in an MBA candidate and what kind of experience I could use that would be pertinent to an employer in a LinkedIn profile,” Wright said. “They’ve always been helpful in telling me how to network. It’s nice to have somebody to reach out to if you feel, as you so often do, that this job search is so overwhelming.
“I’ve got somebody who’s has my back and knows what my experience is through the Kelley School, who can give me a push in the right direction,” she added.
Students receive what they need
Ramesh Venkataraman, associate dean of information and instructional technologies, chair of Kelley Direct MBA and M.S. programs and the John R. Gibbs Professor of information systems, notes that the graduate career coaches are uniquely positioned to provide students with impartial and unbiased guidance.
“In our ecosystem of Kelley faculty, academic advisors and other staff who support online graduate students, the career coaches are the professionals most focused on career acceleration and professional growth,” he said.
Gray added, “Part of coaching is meeting students where they are. My interest is in their success, so I am very honest with them about what it takes to get from where they currently are to where they want to go.”
Most of the eight coaches who met with students have completed the most rigorous coach training and certification program in the industry, offered by the Coaches Training Institute. Others also are certified by the International Coaching Federation.
While many Kelley Direct students may not need to use the Prebys Center to meet with recruiters, they benefit in other ways from a resource that welcomed hundreds of companies looking for talent, as well as hundreds more that recruited virtually. All students have access to the strong connections of an alumni network of more than 110,000.
“I am so proud of IU, as an alum and now as a student, to say that this is yet another way that we’re investing in our students and that we’re investing in the legacy of Kelley,” Wright said.