Today’s employers need new hires to “hit the ground running.” But it’s more than just a catchphrase – it’s a real consideration for the modern, lean company seeking fresh talent.
College graduates are entering a “just in time” workforce environment, experts say, and being ready to adapt is critical.
“Work begins almost immediately. They want someone to come in and start demonstrating value to them as quickly as possible,” says Peg Pierce, director of career services at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. “They need somebody who doesn’t need six months or a year to figure out how to do that.”
And that’s exactly what employers routinely find in Lawrence Tech graduates, due in part to unique teaching methods, small class sizes and an emphasis on learning the work and the theory behind it.
“It makes the employer’s investment pay off quicker. That’s what we hear consistently that (employers) like about our students,” she says.
Lawrence Tech’s notable reputation throughout Michigan and beyond also helps.
“I get so many phone calls from employers who start out the conversation saying the best employee they ever hired was from Lawrence Tech,” Pierce notes. “They say, ‘I love hiring your students, they are so fast and they acclimate very quickly. They hit the ground running.'”
With industry experts teaching many of the courses at LTU, students also benefit from the real-world experience of their instructors.
“They’re not just teaching you the subject, but also what their experience has been in the field,” Pierce explains.
And by combining theory and practice, students get hands-on experience through project-based learning as well as the academic theory on “why something works the way it does,” she says.
“They’re not just sitting in a classroom taking notes and memorizing things; they’re actually doing hands-on things,” Pierce says, including on-campus labs, experiments and other opportunities to work as part of a team to solve problems.
Location, location, location
As any prospective college student knows, though, a solid education can be found in many places. But where you’re learning can have a major impact on your career path – and not every school can boast having thousands of major employers right outside their doorstep.
“Our location is honestly probably one of the biggest things we have to offer,” Pierce points out. “If you think about where LTU is located, we’re here in Southfield – ‘the heart of it all,’ with 10,000 companies located in Southfield. Directly across campus are four of the skyscraper buildings full of businesses and industry in the Town Center. Those are 28 floors each and filled with potential opportunities for our students.”
Plus, when you’re just 11 miles from downtown Detroit, commuting to internships is simple – especially when you factor in the commuter transportation provided by the university.
“Then we’re right next door to Farmington Hills, Livonia, Ferndale, Royal Oak, all of which have very independent industrial centers and opportunities for students in a range of fields,” she says. “They say ‘location, location, location’ when you’re talking about real estate but it’s the same thing here. We have so many opportunities based on the location we’re at.”
For the prospective college student who values flexibility and a personalized approach, Lawrence Tech steps up.
“The value of being a smaller school is that we can really get to know our students on an individualized basis,” Pierce says.
This helps when students need certain types of internships or employment opportunities. With LTU’s online database of employers that specifically target Lawrence Tech candidates, there are usually many options.
“We have over 13,000 employers on that database and each one of them has requested access to LTU. Over 3,000 of those employers are located right here in Southfield,” Pierce says. “That’s a lot of jobs to be able to share with students.”
Lawrence Tech students have the choice to take classes in their area of study as early as their freshman year – “there’s value in introducing them as early as you can” to ensure a good fit, Pierce notes – and almost all LTU students are involved in work-related experiences like internships and co-ops well before they graduate.
“They’re getting an opportunity to see what they’re learning in the classroom is applied in the real world. There are some great ‘aha’ moments,” she says.
While it’s ultimately up to students to shape their future career path, a small university can go a long way in ensuring their dreams come to fruition.
“I always say to students, ‘It took a unique combination of experiences and interests to create who you are. We want to look at what those experiences are and how they shape what’s going to be a good future for you,” Pierce says. “There are a lot of different ways you can be an engineer, a nurse – how can we help you figure out what feels right, what fits best for you? At a smaller school, those are things you get a chance to do. It’s not as likely that a student can get lost in the shuffle.”
For more information on Lawrence Technological University, visit ltu.edu.