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Cross College Alliance connects graduates with local employers

Sheila Bing, a student ambassador, works at State College of Florida’s front desk in the Korcheck building and gives student tours.
Sheila Bing, a student ambassador, works at State College of Florida’s front desk in the Korcheck building and gives student tours. Provided photo

One of the goals of the Cross College Alliance is to provide the higher education opportunities that create a match between area employers and job-seeking graduates. Creating effective links between the local business community and our students ensures the talent we educate stays in our region to bolster our workforce.

Improving talent connections between the Cross College Alliance students and our local employers was an early Alliance initiative. We received valuable support through the Manatee Community Foundation from the Knight Community Fund to pursue this work.

Alliance colleges graduate more than 3,000 students with degrees and certificates annually. While some transfer to complete their baccalaureate degrees, nearly 2,000 will enter the workforce. Our shared goal is to make this region their top choice.

The Alliance is the perfect place to effectively engage employment partners with our institutions. The campus career service leaders are working together with Manatee and Sarasota Economic Development Corporations, Chambers of Commerce and the Gulf Coast CEO Forum to forge specific steps. We have also surveyed employers to test ideas on how to best connect employment and internship opportunities to students and graduates.

Three strategies have emerged from our work so far. The first is to continue an annual “Mind the Gap” event with the Gulf Coast CEO Forum. This event brings more than 200 students and 50 area CEOs together to close the gap between misperceptions about good jobs and talent availability.

A second strategy centers on internships. We know internships provide both training and recruiting opportunities. National data suggests that nearly 50 percent of internships result in a permanent job offer. Each Alliance college has unique requirements, but we are working to create shared information for employers so they can share their internship opportunities and connect with potential interns.

Employers and students increasingly use internet resources like LinkedIn and Indeed to find each other, and each of our institutions has dedicated online tools. Our third strategy is to create a system whereby employers can sign up and post jobs to one place. For example, two Alliance members – the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee – are implementing Handshake this spring to give employers access to their collective 11,000 students for jobs and internships. We are also identifying new tools for shared, cost-effective purchases that give our students access to the latest self-assessment and career search help.

These Alliance strategies are impactful steps to develop the synergy between local industry and higher education to help our students connect with the professional opportunities that lead them to a successful future in our region.

The Cross College Alliance is comprised of five colleges, universities and campuses with our own, distinct identities and offerings who share a common vision: to build an educational network among the region’s educational organizations that amplifies and expands learning opportunities for our collective 16,200 students and the communities that surround us. Learn more at crosscollegealliance.org.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Email: presidentsoffice@scf.edu.

About the Alliance

The Cross College Alliance is comprised of five colleges, universities and campuses with our own, distinct identities and offerings who share a common vision: to build an educational network among the region’s educational organizations that amplifies and expands learning opportunities for our collective 16,200 students and the communities that surround us. Learn more at crosscollegealliance.org

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