Getting to know Yo(u)rk: Experiential Learning and Career Success
College can be a confusing place with numerous options available to students looking for the best experiences both on and off campus. In our Getting to Know Yo(u)rk series, we hear from members of the York College community about what is of interest to them.
York College offers students numerous opportunities for experiential learning in all five schools, including Engineering co-ops, Nursing clinics, student teaching, and internships. The Graham School of Business (GSB) provides internships and experiential learning classes to give students an advantage as they move into careers. Associate Professor of Marketing and Management Dr. Jefrey Woodall and senior Jake Bankert talk about the benefits of experiential learning available in the GSB.
Dr. Jefrey Woodall
How would you define experiential learning?
Big-picture, experiential learning is an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve done or what they’ve learned in class to real-world situations, not just case studies and simulations. It's helping a client of some kind improve their business, complete a project, or at the very least, it provides students with the ability to practice what they've learned and take all of these skills, theories, and concepts and put them into practice.
What types of experiences/opportunities do GSB students have?
In the Graham School of Business, we have internships and classes like BUS 494, Integrated Business Experience. In this class, we partner with businesses that provide consulting projects and real-world tasks that they need to do. Mentors from the company work directly with the students. They provide them with the background and point them in the direction that they need to go to do research. The students come back at the end of the semester after having met with mentors throughout the semester and present their solutions to the companies, not just the mentors. There are different options that students are able to develop in their recommended solutions. We have had amazing success with this in multiple ways. There have been several [instances] where companies have taken the student's work and applied it immediately.
Why should students take advantage of these opportunities?
Experiential learning opportunities reinforce that what students thought they wanted to do is really what they want to do as a career, or they figure out that it's not, and that’s okay because they can start looking for something else or something slightly different. So maybe students don't want to do a marketing job, but instead, they want to do a PR job or want to do some other kind of professional writing job. It gives students the opportunity to see their career fields firsthand.
Have you seen experiential learning help students get jobs in their career field?
Almost every semester at least one or two students get an internship or a job offer. We've had several semesters where that was true, where multiple students were offered employment. And, it's because classes like BUS 494 or internships are real interviews, extended interviews. While students are doing this work, the employer gets to see how they interact in their business and they get to decide whether they would like to keep students at the end of their internship. They get to see their projects come to life.
I feel that every single student should have either an internship or a class like Integrated Business Experience. I think students should not graduate without having some kind of hands-on experience.
Jake Bankert ’23, Marketing Major
What has experiential learning looked like for you?
I feel I have gotten a great deal of experiential learning out of my time here in York. Not including some of the projects I have done in a few classes that fall under this category, I have taken two courses dedicated to experiential learning. The first, MKT 490, was a for-credit internship I took this past summer with J.B Hunt in Manchester, PA, as an Operations and Logistics intern. Since it was for credit, I completed a weekly journal about my time there, and it was a great experience. The other experience was BUS 494 with Dr. Woodall this past semester, where we were assigned a company and they gave a group of us a problem to help solve.
How have these experiences helped you as a student?
My first experiences during my internship helped me decide whether the job I was interning at was the right path for me. It also helped me see marketing elements that are impossible to see in a classroom. I interacted with many people, which helped improve my interpersonal skills in a real-world setting. In BUS 494 Integrated Business Experience, working with a group of York College students to solve a problem for our company was great. The neat part about this project is that the company uses the students’ work and applies it to their business. The work being done is not just for a grade or practice. Students are actively helping local companies to succeed and improve.
Why should students take advantage of these opportunities?
The most significant advantage of taking classes like these is that they give you something to discuss with companies looking to hire you. If you can go into an interview with an experience and then articulate what that experience was and how it impacted you, the company will no doubt be impressed. These experiences act as a portfolio you can tap into at any time, showing the company your ability to use the skills gained throughout your life. Another advantage is the network a student gains when participating in such experiences. I have met many people I would not know today without these classes in the GSB.
How has experiential learning helped you in your career?
First, it gave me things to discuss with other people interested in what I have done at college. It also gave me a well-rounded résumé since my experiences dealt with different business areas. Finally, I was offered and accepted a job at the company I worked with in BUS 494. They got a good early look at what I could do and wanted to give me an opportunity with them. Without BUS 494, I would not have been connected to this company nor been presented with the excellent career path I was given.
York College is going in the right direction with these experiential classes. I have friends in business schools at other colleges who have not experienced some of the cool things I have because they spend more time in the classroom. Also, the professors who helped me through both experiences, Drs. Woodall and Renee Tacka, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Management, are a massive part of why these are so successful. They understand the importance of experiential learning and try to incorporate them into all their classes, which I appreciate as a student.