UNIBusiness students get ready for business

Amela AndelijaWhen Iowa companies are looking for competent young professionals, they need to look no further than the business college at the University of Northern Iowa.

UNIBusiness students participate in a unique professional skill building and training program that foster the "soft skills" many employers complain are lacking in recent college graduates. The UNIBusiness Professional Readiness Program prepares students to write clearly and concisely, speak with confidence, navigate organizational dynamics, and develop a career vision and strategy - talents that might not be developed through a traditional business education.

"In my current job, I spend a lot of time communicating with different vendors and suppliers for the corporate marketing area of Principal Financial Group. UNI really prepared me for that because in the Professional Readiness Program I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different business guests, ranging from recruiters to CEOs. It really made me comfortable with talking to all different types of people - and also being able to form my message in an appropriate way to get the results that I needed." - Amela Andelija, 2013 UNI marketing graduate.

Students in the program receive training on business writing, professional correspondence and etiquette. They put training to practice thanks to the commitment of alumnus Pat Hellman and 200 members of his staff at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, who are matched with students in a phone and email mentoring activity. These skills are increasingly important in an age where texting is the main form of young people's communication.

"Through this unique project, our volunteer mentors provide guidance and help UNI train the next generation of business leaders." -Amy Jarnagin, leadership development manager for Wells Fargo's Accelerated Management Program.

UNIBusiness students also learn to deliver presentations with confidence and practice preparing and delivering an "elevator pitch." And while we wouldn't expect to see our graduates on Saturday Night Live, students do undertake a series of improv workshops to improve their creativity and ability to think on their feet. Improvisation techniques also benefit our students when brainstorming alongside colleagues, who for the first time in American history span four generations in the workplace.

The Professional Readiness Program is looking for additional corporate partners. For more information or to get your company involved, contact PRP director Dale Cyphert.

News & Events

The University of Northern Iowa Dance Marathon exceeded its fundraising goal for the third straight year at its big event on Saturday, March 1. The UNI chapter raised $176,498 - well above its $125,000 goal and a 75 percent increase from the 2013 total. The group also committed $50,000 of this year's total and $50,000 of last year's total to go toward the new University of Iowa Children's Hospital to fund a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Room.