WMU News

Target gift helps students explore business careers

Nov. 13, 2003

KALAMAZOO--Target Stores of West Michigan is providing $21,000 over the next three years to help fund "University 102," a unique career development course offered through Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business.

University 102 is a one-credit course in career exploration, during which students research various careers and participate in activities that enhance their understanding of their own interests. Eighteen pre-business majors are enrolled this fall, the first time the program has been offered. Enrollment is expected to double next semester and continue to grow next year, with more sections being added to keep individual class size around 24 students.

"The students enrolled know they want to major in business, they just aren't sure what area of business is right for them," says Linda Ickes, associate director of Career and Student Employment Services, who teaches the course.

Student interests are evaluated using such instruments as the Strong Occupational Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

"Each student receives personalized evaluation, which is one of the strengths of this program," Ickes says.

Business professionals, often WMU alumni, serve as "guest lecturers," frequently in the form of panel discussions on various careers. Executives from Target Stores have participated in the past two business internship panel presentations. This direct contact with working professionals is vital in giving students an accurate view of the business world and in breaking down stereotypes and preconceived ideas, according to Ickes.

"Student perceptions of various careers are frequently based on stereotypes, and they lack an understanding of how working professionals actually spend their time," says Ickes."

Students also receive basic training in creating a resume and applying for a job, which is expected to increase their chances of securing meaningful internships.

Career and Student Employment Services has operated similar courses for pre-engineering majors for several years, but this is the first time it has been made available to pre-business majors. The business program would not have been possible without Target's support, according to CSES Executive Director Lynn Kelly-Albertson.

Target also is contributing $15,000 to support the 2003-04 Buster Bronco Family Series at WMU's Miller Auditorium.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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