UNIBusiness students get ready for business

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

UNI Business
PRP students undertake a series of improv workshops to improve their creativity and ability to think on their feet.

Employers consistently report that college graduates lack the "soft skills" required for career success, but students studying business at UNI participate in a unique professional skill-building and training program. The UNIBusiness Professional Readiness Program (PRP) prepares students to navigate organizational dynamics, write clearly and concisely, speak with confidence, and develop a career vision and strategy – skills that might not be developed through a traditional business education.

UNIBusiness students learn to deliver presentations with confidence, practice preparing and delivering an "elevator pitch," and 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.

And while we wouldn't expect to see our grads on Saturday Night Live, students undertake a series of improv workshops, led by professor of theatre Gretta Berghammer, to improve their creativity and ability to think on their feet. Anyone who has been thrown a curveball after a presentation or sales pitch understands the importance of improvisation in business. A competent professional can adjust and answer with authority and honesty on the spot. Improvisation techniques also benefit our students when brainstorming and with innovative thinking.

Businesspeople often find themselves in meetings and working on multi-person projects. For the first time in American history we have four generations in the workplace: members of the Silent Generation are retiring later, working alongside Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Stereotypes exist within each generation, but generational differences are real. So the PRP helps students learn to work for and alongside members of all generations.

The final major element of PRP guides students in identifying a career vision and developing a career strategy. Students need to understand what "meaningful employment" is to them and the steps necessary to gain it. They start by learning more about themselves and their natural talents through the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment. Then they undertake résumé development, learn the art and science of writing cover letters and practice interviewing with prospective employers.

UNI is home to a cutting-edge program preparing the business leaders of tomorrow right in our backyard. If a company is looking to add young professionals to the workforce or if a young person is looking for a place to develop into a competent young professional, look no further than the UNI College of Business Administration. Learn more at business.uni.edu.