Leadership skills gained through service among PNW business students

August 13, 2018

A unique program that connects Purdue Northwest students, community business professionals and Junior Achievement has gained local and regional acclaim, and could become a national model for leadership development.

Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) College of Business launched a collaboration with Junior Achievement (JA) of Chicago and Northwest Indiana last year to bring work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills to middle and high school students throughout the region.

The program, called the College of Business Experience & Junior Achievement Partnership, pairs PNW business students with employers and professionals volunteering with JA to develop and present a “JA in a Day” program at area schools. The collaboration with professionals allows PNW’s business students to gain valuable networking and presentation skills while learning the value of community service.

Matthew Wells, director of career management within PNW’s College of Business, said the program has become a vehicle for greater industry and community engagement with Purdue Northwest. It also provides a platform for faculty research; studying the development of global perspectives in emerging business professionals.

While many business schools offer similar co-curricular experiences, Wells notes what makes PNW’s program different is that it is embedded into the curriculum. The program has been designed as a for-credit course required of all business majors.

In its pilot year, between 120 and 150 students each semester participated in the program—approximately a quarter of where Wells expects the program to be over the next few years.

According to PNW’s College of Business Dean Jane Mutchler, the program has already made a substantial impact and shows great promise for the future. It earned numerous recognitions recently, including winning first place in the Mid-American Business Deans Association’s “Innovation in Business Education” challenge; one of only 30 global institutions receiving the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business’s (AASCB) “Innovations That Inspire” challenge award; earning the 2018 Career Development Professionals of Indiana’s “Career Services Innovation Award;” and special recognitions from JA of Chicago.