Starting this fall, students in the College of Arts & Letters have a new network to tap into, one that will enhance their MSU education, accelerate their potential, and help them chart a successful path to a meaningful career.
It’s called The Excel Network, a central space within the College designed to prep students for their careers and post-college life, helping them gain real-world experience to give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Located at 200 Linton Hall, The Excel Network gathers resources for internships, experiential learning, pre-professional experiences, and career advising into one location. It was created as a dynamic, student-focused resource to advance professional exploration, preparation, and alumni/employer connections.
The Excel Network allows students to build upon their experiences and focus on opportunities to maximize their time at MSU while also placing them in a position to be competitive and professionally prepared as they enter the workforce,” said Dan Meier, Assistant Director of Experiential Learning. “We have all worked very hard to launch this exciting new center and roll it out to our students as of this fall.”
The Excel Network staff offer comprehensive advising for professional development and are dedicated to helping students find internships, careers, and experiential learning opportunities, such as study abroad, study away, service learning, and undergraduate research. Students receive support through career communities and are connected to resources and opportunities for networking. They also receive help with scholarships that enable them to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities.
In addition, peer advisors are available to help students learn about academic, career, and networking opportunities.
As we were developing this center, we did a focus group of juniors and seniors and asked them what they thought helped better their career preparation,” Meier said. “We showed them some of our ideas for the center and the resounding response we got was ‘I wish this was here when I was a freshman so I could take advantage of it from the beginning.’”
To get started, students should visit The Excel Network website and join one or more of the six career communities, which are organized around industries and interests rather than majors.
“The Excel Network is organized around six different career communities that allow students to think about their career goals uncoupled from their academic major,” said Beth Judge, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs and Study Abroad. “This uncoupling of discipline and career is purposeful. For too long we have told students that they can do (almost) anything with a liberal arts degree. And then we hope they never ask the obvious follow-up question ‘Like what?’ In our career communities, we locate curriculum opportunities, meaningful experiential learning options, professional development events, and career information and assistance to help students understand what the (almost) everything might be.”
The six career communities include:
- Entrepreneurship, Business, and Innovation
- Visual Arts, Arts Administration, and Performing Arts
- Publishing, Editing, and Authorship
- Design, Technology, and Media
- International Affairs, Law, and Government
- Nonprofit, Education, and Social Impact
Each career community offers students customized information and opportunities based around their academic and career interests, including featured internships and career opportunities, study abroad and away, undergraduate research, scholarships, on-campus events, service learning opportunities, and connections to alumni and employers. Alongside this customized information, students receive strong support and guidance from The Excel Network staff.
“The Excel Network offers a holistic approach to experiential learning, career development, student advising, and alumni networking and relations. Thinking about these elements in a strategic way is what differentiates The Excel Network,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “Unlike being trained for a certain profession within the College of Arts & Letters, students are gaining a broad set of skills and abilities that will make them leaders in a variety of different kinds of professional pathways.
The Excel Network allows us to give a very concrete answer to what you can do with a liberal arts degree, and to see students beginning to blossom into a career path that gives their life meaning, that makes everything we do here in the College worth it.”