Emphasis on experiential learning prepares students for success

The Bowen-Thompson Student Union is the heart of BGSU campus life. It’s where students, alumni, friends and faculty go to grab a Starbucks coffee … or meet with friends over a slice of pizza or a sub … or run in to buy a hoodie or a T-shirt before a big game.

And that’s not all.

Now that BGSU’s Career Center and Student Employment Services is located on the second floor of the Union, so much more is possible. From individual or group internships and co-ops, undergraduate research and field experience, to clinicals and practicums, BGSU’s gateway to experiential learning has a front row seat to 50,000 students who pass through the Union doors on a weekly basis.

Experiential learning, or learning through experience, can happen in myriad ways, such as student teaching, studying abroad, internships – anything that gets students out working, and learning, in their potential field. “The University’s holistic approach to student education is a hallmark of the BG experience,” said President Mary Ellen Mazey.

This commitment to the student experience was validated in September 2016, when BGSU was named a No. 1 public university for student engagement. This inaugural ranking of U.S. colleges and universities by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education is based on data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. government, The U.S. Student Survey, The Academic Survey and the Elsevier bibliometric dataset. The overall methodology explores four key areas: resources, engagement, outcomes and environment.

The Career Center, which facilitates experiential learning opportunities for students, is central to this recognition. The new Career Center made its debut at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union in fall 2016. No longer sharing space with other occupants of the Mathematical Sciences Building, the new center now boasts eight interview rooms, a lounge for employers to interact with students and convenient parking.

“For the students, it’s easy access,” said director Jeffery Jackson, assistant vice president for student career success. “It’s right here in the student union and the students know where we are now. We have new signage and comfortable seats that draw them into the area, so we expect increased drop-ins.”

The Career Center’s mission is to engage students from day one, even if those students aren’t yet enrolled in the University.

The Office of Admissions has incorporated the center into its tours, so when parents are on campus for a visit, they see that BGSU is serious about career outcomes and about engaging students early in their college career.

“Our goal is to help our students participate in multiple experiential learning activities to help them validate what they would like to do and prepare them for the future, for the world of work,” Jackson said.


Two programs are used to engage incoming students: the deciding student program, which has intentional touch points to help students with a career assessment, and a major matchup fair, which pairs students who are still deciding on a major with the center’s academic partners. Then, there is the Falcon Internship Guarantee, which guarantees internships for qualified students.

“Our goal is to help students make informed decisions,” Jackson said. “That means participating in intentional opportunities from day one. We create multiple opportunities – expos, fairs and workshops – to engage students with our office and their education.”

Emily Treece graduated in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in adolescent to young adult education – integrated math. Treece secured a full-time teaching job at Avon High School, west of Cleveland, and started in August 2016.

“Avon administrators came to the BGSU Teacher Job Fair and that’s how I ended up getting the interview,” Treece said. “The career fair gives you so much experience interviewing and it really gets you prepared. Almost everyone from our major that has gone into the interviews and wants to teach has gotten a job.”

Amanda Freedman is another student who has taken advantage of what the Career Center has to offer. Freedman, who will graduate in December from the College of Business Administration, studied abroad in Hong Kong in the spring semester and interned at Owens Illinois over the summer. she will start working fulltime at O-I in January 2017.

“Without BGSU’s continued support through job expos, scholarships, mentors, teachers and student organizations, I don’t believe that I would have been as successful as I am today,” Freedman said. “I certainly wouldn’t have known about this incredible opportunity at O-I in the first place, so thank you, BGSU.”


Internships are a hallmark of the Career Center.

“We’ve educated our students to know that 75 percent of employers prefer students with some form of experiential learning on their resume and that’s according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers,” Jackson said. “Then, from there, we know that students who intern tend to transition into a full-time position with those employers. We even have a workshop on how to succeed at your internship since it can essentially be a three-month interview.”

Jackson said the Career Center exists because of the forward-thinking leadership at BGSU.

“Families are focused on the return on investment, and along with President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, they are very serious about career and educational outcomes,” Jackson said.

Updated: 07/10/2020 02:44PM