Kent State looks to connect College of Business Administration with area companies

For an enterprising business owner, there are a variety of ways to capitalize on the unique source of knowledge and human capital that is Kent State University.

Deborah Spake, dean of the College of Business and a marketing professor, as well, shared with Kent Area Chamber of Commerce members some of the ways area business leaders may connect with the business school to the mutual benefit of the school, its students and the local businesses last week at the Kent State University Hotel & Conference Center.

“What may surprise you is actually how large we are, and the resources that we have available, not just for our students, but to the business community,” said Spake. 

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During her presentation, Spake outlined the ways to connect with students, ways for businesses to educate their current employees and ways to find experts on specific topics, if necessary. 

Spake said hosting an internship program is one way to establish a relationship with the College of Business Administration and its students. 

“We use an online system called Handshake,” she said. “So, you post your position in Handshake and have an opportunity to interview the students who apply, but often I hear from employers, ‘Handshake’s great, but what other opportunities do I really have to interact with students?'”

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For those business leaders interested in a longer-term relationship with the college in addition to meeting students who may be prospective employees, the college works with business leaders to conduct mock interviews. 

Spake also said there are business-focused career fairs available throughout the year.

“The university is hosting a volunteer day in October that offers the opportunity for you to network with a variety of students from across the campus … and you can participate if you wish to get to know some students in different areas,” said Spake.

Another way to reach out to students is through the College of Business Administration Career Services Office, which includes information on how to register for Handshake and a calendar of career fairs and other opportunities to network with students.

Another reason businesses might want to reach out the university is to seek expert advice about various business topics, said Spake. 

Unless a business leader has very specific questions, the university’s business podcast, “Breaking Down Business,” may be a helpful resource, she added. 

“We have a series,” said Spake. “I think they’re about 13 episodes in the series posted on our website … I just pulled a sample of four in our finance department. We teach an undergraduate course on Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency, so if that’s a topic of interest to you, we have a podcast you can listen to.”

In addition, Spake said the College of Business Administration also has created a page of experts within its website. 

“If you’re looking for a particular expert to ask a question, maybe you’re interested in having a student project conducted, maybe you’re interested in a research study … this is where you would go,” she said.

On that page, there are 38 business faculty members listed with various specialties, and those interested in contacting them can reach to them directly or contact Joni Bowen, Kent State University College of Business Administration marketing communications manager, at [email protected].

In addition to being a source of information and new employees, the College of Business Administration also works with companies to help current employees seek additional training, according to Spake.

“In 2017, we recognized that to meet the needs of our students we really needed to offer the MBA online, because so many people who worked all day didn’t want to come to campus in the evening and take courses,” said Spake.

Initially, Spake said it wasn’t easy to sell faculty on an online MBA program, but if the KSU was going to offer an online MBA, she said she wanted it done right.

“I got them to make the commitment that, if we were going to do this, we were going to work with an instructional designer and make it the very best online product that we could.”

Part of that process included seeking Quality Matters certification for every course in the program, said Spake. Quality Matters provides research-based rubrics and standards specific to online courses, according to the organization’s website.

“It takes two years before you can even apply for it so we couldn’t apply for it until 2019,” said Spake. “I’m very pleased to tell you, every one of our courses is Quality Matters certified in our online MBA.”

The College of Business Administration also offers “micro credentials.”

“A micro credential is something that you earn that doesn’t necessarily lead to a degree,” she explained. “It’s a set of courses for which you could earn a certificate. So we’ve moved in this direction to meet the needs of employers who only want to send their employees for a couple of courses and don’t want to pay for a full degree program, or for that prospective student who doesn’t want to commit to a full degree, or they want to try a few courses and make sure they can really do it.”

The university also has a large number of entrepreneurship majors. Those students have to create a business, according to Spake. Whether they choose to wind down their business (in the final semester) or continue with it is up to them. 

Do you have a business or healthcare story you’d like to share? Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] a
nd @bobgaetjens_rc.