Missouri Southern State University is dedicated to helping students prepare for success in college and in the workforce.

Finding new ways to support this mission was the driving factor in creating a new Major, Minor, and Career Preparation Academy Grant Proposal.

“Students often choose a major or career path without exploring their interests, strengths and values,” says Nicole Brown, grant administrator. “We wanted to create a program to help at-risk students connect majors with real-world career opportunities, industries, and area professionals.”

The academy will begin on the Missouri Southern campus this fall.  It will include career and college success counseling, career preparation workshops, and a leadership development program.  Under these programs, MSSU will provide specialized outreach to at-risk students and US Veterans, enhance current programs such Super Leaders, and provide career and life planning workshops.

MSSU will focus heavily on serving current student at risk of dropping out of and not completing college.  The Stanford Social Innovation Review notes that in case studies, the four most important areas where students need help to graduate include:

(1)  Selecting a suitable major, understanding requirements they must fulfill to graduate while using strategies and support to improve their academic performance;
(2)  Building their employability through securing part-time jobs, writing resumes and defining desired career paths;
(3) Maintaining sufficient financial aid; and
(4) Managing life through developing a network of support.

The Review says schools that provide support in these four areas have seen their graduation rates increase over 10 percent.

The Major, Minor, and Career Preparation Academy at MSSU will provide support in these areas of need.

Career and college success counseling will be offered through class presentations, one-on-one counseling sessions, workshops, supplemented with online and print resources. Counseling efforts will focus on students who have not chosen a major to assist them in exploring their interests and translating those interests into a college major and career path.

“Early career education helps students to become engaged and invested in their education,” says Brown. “It also helps student to connect with professors, clubs, and organizations, all of which build a network of support.”

Career preparation workshops will provide students with real-world advice from area professionals and will highlight a different industry, major or professional development topic each month.  Workshops will supplement coursework and will help students enter the workforce better prepared to meet employer expectations.

Anyone interested in volunteering to present at workshops can contact the MSSU Career Services Office at (417) 625-9343 or e-mail brown-n@mssu.edu.

Super Leaders, a leadership development program offered through a partnership between MSSU and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network (JACC YPN) will be entering its second year of existence.  Grant funding will allow the program to expand its sessions, provide supplemental material, and provide scholarships for students unable to pay the application fee.  The program helps students cultivate and develop leadership skills, gain valuable networking contacts and explore career opportunities in the Joplin region by visiting a variety of companies.

The activities within the Academy will take place on the MSSU campus and will maintain a semester-long schedule to coincide with the MSSU calendar.  Participants will be taught how to showcase accomplishments on a resume to help employers identify candidates that have gone above and beyond to prepare for the workforce.

For more information about the grant or the Major, Minor and Career Preparation Academy, contact Nicole Brown, Director of Career Services, at (417) 625-3137 or email brown-n@mssu.edu