jobs

Solar Decathlon leads to hands-on experience, job offers for students

After 18 months of work, the Solar Decathlon competition has come and gone for the 100-plus students on the Drury University and Crowder College team. Their house, dubbed ShelteR3 or “Shelter Cubed,” won 8th place in the contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in Irvine, California last month.

Reflecting on the experience reveals many tangible takeaways: pride in a job well done, experience on a build site, professional connections – even job offers.

Avery Smith, a Drury business major and member of the ShelteR3 communication team, said finally being at the big competition opened his eyes to how far the team had truly come.

“Each team had such an original idea and original story about how they were able to make it,” Smith said. “140 teams applied, 20 were accepted and only 14 made it to Irvine. Even then, four teams were unable to finish on time.”

Solar Decathletes

Perhaps that was a light way of putting it, as the Crowder-Drury team was one of the few undergraduate teams that made it all the way.

“I was the most surprised to learn how many graduate students and doctoral candidates we were up against,” said Evan Melgren, a 2014 Drury advertising/PR graduate who was the team’s communication lead. “That we as undergrads were competitive with such established designers and engineers became a great source of pride.”

Being undergrads also led to increased pressure for the students who spent days and weeks in Irvine, said mentor and Hammons School of Architecture Professor Nancy Chikaraishi.

“Our students had homework, they had papers, they had tests they had to take and we were running them back to and from the hotel about five times a day and making sure they had time to get their work done,” she said.

The effort was worth it. Not only did the competition help students expand their horizons, but it also got them thinking about the finer points of project management and on-the-spot problem solving.

Project Manager Jarren Welch, a Crowder student, said that while he felt prepared for the competition thanks to the mentorship of his advisors, there were still unexpected bumps in the road.

“When we did get out there, we ran into a couple of problems, so I learned ways to improvise and work around that,” he said. “I learned that there isn’t just one answer to a problem and it’s all about picking the best idea.”

ShelteR3 house

Though they couldn’t have known it going in, experiences with solving problems on the fly ultimately led to job offers. Project co-lead Alaa Al Radwan credits the Decathlon for helping her land a job at M.I.T.’s prestigious Senseable City Lab. Melgren cites his readiness to adapt as the reason he landed his current job at Killian Construction Co.

“They saw a video walk-through of our home and concept, which had required me to learn an architectural software program in about a week,” he says.

Welch’s new job with Missouri Sun Solar also came as a result of stretching beyond his comfort zone. His offer came not from the building phase, but during a fundraiser.

“I handed them my card and they called me a few weeks later and offered me an interview and I got hired,” he said.

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Story by Chaniqua Crook, student writer with Drury’s Marketing & Communication Department.

Business grad offered full time position prior to graduation

Laura Gaughan, a senior management and finance double major, knows the importance of networking and making connections. It’s what landed her a job two semesters before graduation.

Last spring, Gaughan applied for a summer internship with the Kansas City Federal Reserve. Although the internship went to another Drury student, the organization was impressed and promised to “keep her in mind” for a position.

“I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m sure they’re just saying that’,” she says. “But then in September, I was asked to come in for an interview and 30 minutes later I was offered a job.”

Gaughan begins her job as a financial analyst next month, and credits much of her success to her professors and the relationships she’s built with them over the years.

Gaughan

Laura Gaughan

“I think one of the greatest things professors do is be excellent references for students,” Gaughan says. “Whether its grad school or a job, they’ll speak the world of you and I think that’s so awesome because that can really make or break if you get a job or not.”

Gaughan says Drury’s Breech School of Business helps students prepare for entry into the work force in many other ways, including polishing resumes and cover letters, conducting mock interviews and helping students build and maintain connections through the Drury alumni network and through professors’ contacts. Gaughan has used LinkedIn to maintain relationships and build connections, and was even offered two part-time jobs during the school year because of it.

Her advice to current students is to simply to be flexible: “If life doesn’t go the way you wanted it to or it takes it take a different path, be open to possibilities.”

Gaughan originally thought she would attend graduate school immediately after graduation but once she received her Federal Reserve job offer, she sought advice from her parents, friends and professors.

“The advice from my professors is what influenced with me the most,” Gaughan says. “They told me it would be an opportunity I wouldn’t want to turn down because it was such great experience, and whatever I wanted to do in the future—a job or school—this job would speak volumes of my work ethic and ability. I 100 percent wouldn’t be ready for the real world if it weren’t for Drury.”

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Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, senior English and writing major at Drury. A version of this story originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader. 

2012 Drury graduates found jobs and went to graduate school soon after graduation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., August 15, 2013 — More than 96 percent of 2012 graduates from Drury University’s traditional Day School, who responded to a university survey, are employed or furthering their education according to an annual study conducted by Drury University’s Office of Career Planning and Development.

Drury graduation

The study measures the status of traditional undergraduates six months after graduation who received bachelor’s degrees in December 2011, May 2012 and August 2012. Drury received information on 242 out of a possible 320 graduates for a response rate of more than 75 percent. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average national response rate for the Class of 2010 was just 60.8 percent.

In the latest Drury survey, 234 respondents were found to be either working, in graduate school or working while in graduate school for a placement rate of 96.7 percent. Another 2.1 percent of students took a gap year or were not looking.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in 2011 for students with a bachelor’s degree was just 4.9 percent, nearly three points lower than the national average,” said Jill Wiggins, director of Career Planning and Development at Drury. “When you combine that with average lifetime earnings for bachelor’s degree holders versus non-graduates, it’s easy to say, ‘Yes, college is worth it.’ ”

Drury students furthering their education in graduate or professional schools are attending more than 50 different institutions, including: the St. Louis University School of Law, the University of Chicago, Washington University, the University of Denver and Vanderbilt University.

Media Contact: Jill Wiggins, MBA, Drury’s Director of Career Planning and Development, Office: (417) 873-6980, Email: jillwiggins@drury.edu

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Drury students are finding jobs and entering graduate school in the recovering economy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 26, 2012 — More than 99 percent of 2011 graduates from Drury University’s traditional Day School, who responded to a university survey, are employed or furthering their education, according to an annual study conducted by Drury’s Office of Career Planning and Development.

The study measures the status of traditional undergraduates six months after graduation who received bachelor’s degrees in December 2010, May 2011 and August 2011. Drury received information on 235 out of a possible 312 graduates for a response rate of more than 75 percent. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average national response rate for the Class of 2010 was just 60.8 percent.

In the latest Drury survey, 233 respondents were found to be either working, in graduate school or working while in graduate school for a placement rate of 99.15 percent.

“These numbers help to answer the question, ‘Is college worth it?’” said Jill Wiggins, director of Career Planning and Development at Drury. “When the unemployment rate for people with an undergraduate degree is half of the national average, the answer clearly is, yes, college is worth it.”

Jill Wiggins, Director of Career Planning and Development

Over the past nine years, Drury’s placement rate, for those who responded to the survey, has averaged 97.3 percent, and the response rate to the annual survey has averaged 71.6 percent.

Drury students furthering their education in graduate or professional schools are attending 40 different institutions, including: the St. Louis University School of Medicine, New York University, Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Two success stories from the Drury class of 2011:

Josh Loya graduated from Drury in May 2011, and he has been working at Intuitive Web Solutions in Springfield since September of 2011. Loya thought about graduate school, but decided to wait, and used skills he learned in interviewing and resumé writing to land the first job for which he applied. “I definitely think that helped. I did practice interviews, went over my resumé with Career Planning and Development, and I took a class on career and life planning my senior year. So I was able to have a good interview and get the job,” Loya said.

Danielle McCallum graduated with a bachelor’s in advertising and public relations in May 2011, and she immediately began Drury’s one-year Master of Arts in Communication program while working full-time in Drury’s financial aid department. Before she finished graduate school in May 2012, Twin Oaks Country Club in Springfield hired McCallum to be the media and accounting coordinator, “I believe college is worth the cost. Although I had to take out student loans to make it this far, the debt I incurred was manageable and led me to a great new job.”

Media Contact: Jill Wiggins, MBA, SPHR, Director of Career Planning and Development, Office: (417) 873-7284, E-mail: jillwiggins@drury.edu

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