The panel of executives wait as students anxiously prepare for a taste of the real world by practicing sales, or maybe pitching stocks, to seasoned professionals. These competitions keep them on their toes.
“The students are always nervous,” Catherine Beasley says. “They’re always almost a little unsure of themselves.”
But afterward, the students find the experience eye-opening and often tell Beasley they’re glad they participated.
“That has been fun to watch them see that realization,” Beasley says. “If you’re always comfortable, you’re not growing.”
Seeing these students transform from nervous to confident is one of the many rewarding aspects of Beasley’s job as associate director of Student Success at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The newly created office, an extension of Walton’s Career Services, is led by Dr. Karen Boston, senior assistant dean for Student Success and chief student officer.
Walton’s process for student career readiness not only involves Career Services, which helps students with their internship or job searches, but also Student Success, which ensures that students are equipped with the skills, competencies and experiences that will make them more attractive to potential employers.
Though student success offices exist at other universities and colleges, with emphasis typically on career management, Walton goes the extra mile by broadening students’ hard and soft skills through 10 career readiness competencies, Beasley says. One way Student Success does this is through S.A.M. (Students Achieving Milestones), a program where students complete an assortment of career readiness badges that include career management, business integrity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, three types of communication and many others. Once these badges are successfully completed, students can share them on their LinkedIn profiles.
The Student Success program is introduced to college students in their Freshman Business Connections class, where they can earn their first badge. From there, they can learn about registering with S.A.M., which utilizes Suitable, a software program available both as a smartphone and computer app. It helps students create a roadmap for what they need, both academically and professionally, to better prepare them for a career following graduation.
Beasley grew up in Fayetteville and graduated from the University of Arkansas, earning a degree in journalism with a concentration on public relations and a minor in marketing. She worked locally in marketing, including on accounts for Sam’s Club.
Since arriving at Walton, she has seen her role evolve considerably with the Student Success office, especially through the integration of digital technology. The office also now oversees the college’s scholarships program and commencement planning and holds events, including a panel discussion on diversity in the workplace for the university’s students, faculty and staff.
To bring more awareness to Student Success, the office recently relocated to the third floor of Walton’s Business Building, where there is a steady stream of student traffic.
“We’re still very much a work in progress,” Beasley says. “It’s been fun to work on something new. It’s been fun to work on something so meaningful – something that I know is important to our employers and something that I know will help students. That’s what has been really great about it.”