Survey: Corporate recruiters see extra value in CSU students

students at a career fair
Colorado State University Construction Management students and employers meet up at the Construction Management Career Fair, March 5, 2020, in the Lory Student Center.

When corporate recruiters nationwide work to fill jobs, they look at Colorado State University students more favorably than their peers at other institutions because CSU alumni have a reputation for strong leadership qualities, teamwork skills and being better prepared to succeed in a job.

That’s according to a new survey of hundreds of corporate recruiters, who overwhelmingly called CSU “excellent” at preparing students for jobs. The Corporate Recruiter Ranking and Thought Leadership Survey revealed that nearly eight in 10 recruiters say CSU does a better job than other universities at readying students for the workforce.

The survey polled 334 corporate recruiters across the country in an evaluation of 64 universities and colleges. It was conducted by Whitman Insight Strategies and included institutions such as Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, Purdue University, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan.

“This survey validates the effort we’ve put into creating degree programs that give students a degree that is really of value when they go out into the workforce,” said CSU Provost Rick Miranda. “Not only do we have great faculty in our classrooms, but we also have put a great deal of attention into our curriculum and learning opportunities like internships, service-learning and capstone projects.”

Career bedrock: A well-rounded student experience

A student with CSU mascot Cam
CSU student Will Sharpe with CAM the Ram.

As a CSU student, Will Sharpe took advantage of many opportunities beyond the classroom —President’s Leadership Program, an internship, and participating in student government — all while completing his natural resource tourism degree, with minors in Spanish and leadership studies.

“College is a very transformative time for any person,” Sharpe said, “but I would say the culture at CSU is really a positive one, and I think that instills a lot of confidence in students to help them grow.”

CSU is a long drive from where Sharpe grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. But he says leaving home for the experiences he had at CSU, in and out of the classroom, have helped him grow in ways that impressed corporate recruiters. When Sharpe graduated two weeks ago, he had already started a full-time job with a national educational curriculum company.

“The interpersonal skills we get by being a CSU Ram, that’s what gives us the edge,” he said. “If you know how to talk to a person and you have the willingness to put yourself out there, you can go really far.”

Better prepared, by design

National recruiters ranked CSU 24 out of the 64 institutions included in the survey as the school with graduates who are the best-trained, educated, and able to succeed once they are hired.

At CSU’s Career Center, Executive Director of Career Services Jon Cleveland coordinates dozens of staff including career educators for students, and others who focus on building connections with employers. The team at the Career Center work also works in partnership with additional career professionals across campus, helping students set themselves up for success. A significant part of that effort is organizing career fairs and building relationships with companies and with recruiters who help them find the best employees.

“We have a lot of folks on campus – both in career services and beyond – that are working hard on behalf of students to make sure that employers have a great experience with CSU,” he said.

Cleveland added that the positive feedback he gets from recruiters mirrors what he sees in CSU’s students and their diversity of backgrounds and experiences.

“This is a group of students that knows the value of hard work, they’ve faced obstacles in their lives, they’re critical thinkers with ambitious goals, and they’re strong leaders who are looking to make a difference in the world,” he said. “I’ve worked at a number of different institutions and the CSU students are the most down to earth, hard-working and open-minded group that I’ve encountered.”

Cleveland says internships provide invaluable career preparation, and CSU is always working to increase the number of students who have internship experiences.

CSU Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes says CSU has gotten better at getting students to think about their careers early, working with them to understand that it starts when they step foot on campus. She added that the University is at its best when it can help students see how their experiences at CSU – in the classroom, at student jobs, in clubs and student organizations and athletics – all tie together.

“You’re going to be prepared for a career in terms of your intelligence,” Hughes said, “but you’re also going to know what it means to live in a diverse world and to be a global citizen and to be able to achieve not only the goals of your job but of your life, and how those work together.”