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Community Voices, August 2014

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Summer is quickly coming to an end as we welcome back our students for the start of another fall semester this week. We are excited to have over 600 new freshmen and undergraduate transfer students on campus this year. No doubt you have seen the increase in traffic throughout town this week on the streets, in the stores and in our many restaurants. Our community always seems to reach a higher and more exciting level of activity once the students return in August.

With the return of our students to campus, and the influx of new students to our community, the demand for part-time job opportunities will undoubtedly reach its seasonal high. I would encourage our local businesses to reach out to our students with employment opportunities and take advantage of our new workforce. Our campus career services center and financial aid offices are great clearinghouses for posting job opportunities and making connections with all of our students across campus.

Connecting our students with local employers is a great way to increase our engagement with students in the community. Engaged students tend to have a more rewarding college experience, are more apt to complete their degree and often times will chose to stay within the region if job opportunities are available. Engaging students early in their careers is another key to helping us recruit and grow our local workforce of the future.
Student internships are continuing to grow in popularity right here in the Marshall community and SMSU is committed to helping our students gain that real world work experience prior to graduation. For our local employers, internships are a great way to expose potential future employees to their business and share company values and knowledge with motivated students. Internships bring great benefit and an exchange of knowledge to both students and employers. Internships can start at many levels, so reach out to our faculty and staff to see if establishing an internship program would be a good fit for your organization.

This week I challenged our faculty and staff to become even more engaged with our students. A new Gallup-Purdue study has found that support and experiences in college had more of a relationship to long-term workplace engagement and well-being for college graduates than where or what type of college they attended. Having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, more than double their odds of being engaged at work and their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being
And for graduates who had an internship or job in college where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, their odds of being engaged at work doubled as well.

Our further engagement with students can make all of the difference not only for them, both for the institution and our community.

Published in the Marshall Independent on August 30, 2014

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