Big Changes Come to Hughes Leadership and Career Program

Graded assignments give way to real-world experiences

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 28, 2020) — After a successful test run in the fall, the Michael J. Coles College of Business rolled out sweeping changes this semester to its Hughes career-readiness program. These changes provide students more opportunities to earn credit for activities that directly prepare them for careers after college.

Students learning to navigate the revised Hughes program – which eliminated graded assignments in favor of experiential learning – are discovering that it exposes them to valuable professional development activities inside and outside the Coles College.

Hughes Leadership and Career Program

What is Changing?

Launched in 2014, the Hughes Leadership and Career Program includes three courses – BUSA 2150, 3150, and 4150 – which Coles students must complete to graduate. These courses help students develop their professional strengths and improve their communications skills.

Last fall, the College began reinventing the program to focus entirely on real-world development experiences, introducing the changes exclusively in BUSA 2150. Beginning this semester, the requirements apply to all three BUSA courses. These changes include:

1) Event and Activity Attendance

Course credit now comes from attending professional development events like career fairs, guest lectures, academic program information sessions, and career prep workshops. Students are free to choose the activities that appeal to them. Activities can be on campus or off, provided they relate to one of eight key business core competencies.

Students keep track of their events using the Flight Academy, an online engagement program built on the Suitable technology platform. The Flight Academy records their progress towards hitting the 10-hour activity goal and features a calendar of qualified events. Students earn credit by logging their completed activities in the Suitable mobile app or a desktop computer.

The Flight Academy also includes several features designed to motivate students, including leaderboards and badges earned for hitting milestones. See The Flight Academy Brings Fun and Games to Career Planning for more.

Focusing on professional development activities encourages students to explore the breadth of opportunities available on campus.

“Quite a few students have said there are so many resources they didn’t know about,” says Allie Wright, a career and internship advisor with the Department of Career Planning and Development. “This is the first time they’ve gone beyond the Student Center and Burruss. They’re starting to realize that this is a huge campus and they are using [career development] resources even after satisfying their course requirements.”

Coles College Flight Academy
Student logging development event in the Flight Academy

2) Self-Assessments

Each BUSA course now includes a self-assessment designed to help students discover their professional aptitudes, strengths, and leadership qualities. Prior to the change, only students in 3150 completed one: the Gallup’s CliftonStrength assessment

Students in BUSA 2150 now take the YouScience Inventory assessment, which suggests potential career paths based on skills and interests, and creates resume statements to showcase their strengths to potential employers. Meanwhile, BUSA 4150 students take the Leadership Practices Inventory assessment, which highlights their current leadership skills and recommends ways to improve.

“The assessments work together to help inform students and create greater self-awareness,” says Hughes Program Assistant Director Priscilla Hollman. “The whole idea is to give students a deep self-awareness so that they can make effective decisions for themselves and know where they want to grow.”

3) Career Conversations

Career conversations have always been a part of BUSA 4150, where students are required to meet one-on-one with a real-world professional who can offer guidance and advice. The revised Hughes program introduces this concept to each BUSA course.

In BUSA 2150, students must identify three people they would like to talk to and have a conversation with one. The professionals can work in any industry regardless of the student’s major. Students in 3150 and 4150 are then required to have a career conversation with someone specifically working in their desired field.

“Many of our students are a little afraid to put themselves out there,” Hollman says. “This new Hughes program gives them the confidence to do that. Students are going to need courage and will need to take some initiative.”

See a full list of changes to the Hughes Leadership and Career Program.

Why Change Was Necessary

Revising the Hughes program benefits students as well as the career coaches leading the program. For students, the freedom to choose which events they participate in teaches them accountability, responsibility, and time management.

“Students now have a choice about what they want to do,” says Anne Winn, director of student success with the Office of Undergraduate Programs. “They lose some of the flexibility around turning in assignments, but in exchange they get to choose activities and events relevant to what they want to do.”

For career coaches, eliminating graded assignments allows them to spend more one-on-one time with students. Previously, a student’s first meeting with their career coach was in 3150. Under the new system, coaches have limited availability to meet with 2150 students.

Student reaction to the revised Hughes program has been positive, based on student comments at listening sessions hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Programs. The new focus on events and activities has opened students’ eyes to the wide array of professional development resources that the University offers.

“Every single person without fail that I’ve heard from has had at least one event or activity that was impactful to them,” Winn says. “If the takeaway is that there was one thing that helped them prepare for their futures, then that’s a success.”

-Patrick Harbin