Sophomore LAUNCH Takes Aim at Student Info Gap

Sophomore LAUNCH Takes Aim at Student Info Gap

  • March 7th, 2019

Written by Breanna Pianfetti

Caught in uncertainty and faced with a dilemma of figuring out where to go from here, sophomores in college are at an awkward stage in their academic career. Wrapping up introductory courses and getting ready for their upper level classes, sophomores are faced with overwhelming questions about their immediate futures that will inevitably impact their personal, academic and professional selves.

What majors or minors are for them? Do they want to study abroad? Are they interested in an internship (if so, with who)? How will they be prepared for their careers?  The second-year places students in a critical development stage where they are answering many questions that they may not be prepared to answer.

Students get on-demand advising at Sophomore Launch

To help answer those questions, the Culverhouse College of Business developed Sophomore LAUNCH, an event that blossomed from the mind of a sophomore.  Now in its second year, the week-long “boot camp” is aimed for sophomores to find their niche in the college, but is open to any Culverhouse student who is interested in what the college has to offer. The event provides closer looks into majors, minors and concentrations through program spotlights led by faculty, interest sessions highlighting internship and career opportunities led by Susan Cowles, Culverhouse Director of Career Management, and her team, as well as an academic advising opportunity where students are advised and cleared for summer and fall registration by Brandy Frost, Director of Advising and Recruitment at Culverhouse, and her student advising team.

“The event focuses on three things: academic preparedness, career readiness and academic awareness,” said Dr. David Mothersbaugh, Associate Dean of Undergraduate and International Programs. “It’s a great way for Culverhouse to stay in touch with our students during this critical development stage, helping them flesh out how they want to spend their time here at Culverhouse.”

A couple years ago, an idea was brought to Mothersbaugh by then-sophomore Sarah Boudin. Together, they both acknowledged a gap where students lost touch with the college as they finished up their lower-level general business classes and prepared for classes more focused on their majors. A gap they decided could be filled with knowledge on the countless opportunities the college has to offer. With the help of staff, they forged ahead on a plan where students could plug into the college and figure out how their time at Culverhouse could turn themselves into who they want to be personally, academically and professionally.

For 2019, Lauren Bennett, the College’s new Director of Undergraduate Programs, took lead on the event and added new elements to grow the program.  New elements included tabling events for business student organizations. Eleven groups, including Alabama Finance Association, UA Management Consulting and Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity, set-up inside Bidgood and provided information on their organizations to students attending Sophomore LAUNCH’s sessions.

Also included in the growth was that the program was run through UA Business LEAD, the College’s new professional and leadership development platform.  LEAD uses a competency-based tracking app called Suitable. Suitable tracks what students have done in the college that prepares them for their professional career, such as attending Sophomore LAUNCH events, and helps them build an e-portfolio that can be easily shared with potential employers. This year, students could earn a Sophomore LAUNCH badge through the UA Business LEAD program, if they attended five or more events. Seven students successfully earned this badge and, as a result, were invited to a recent Culverhouse Board of Visitors professional networking session and a Dell networking session.

“UA Business LEAD, through the Suitable app tracks what students have done to develop their so-called soft skills,” Mothersbaugh said. “These skills have become invaluable to recruiters seeking the best talent, and with the help of UA Business LEAD and the Suitable app, students can now develop and easily share with prospective employers the competencies they have developed.”