GCU has huge IMPACT on students' job opportunities

Enterprise hired 12 GCU grads into management training positions last year and also brought on five former interns from the University.
Enterprise hired 12 GCU grads into management training positions last year and also brought on five former interns from the University.

By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau

The proof is in the hires.

Between dozens of job fairs, networking and etiquette events, résumé reviews, mock interviews, Career IMPACT Center online tools website and more, Grand Canyon University students and alumni aren’t lacking free career resources.

job.fair.002_job fair
GCU's Career IMPACT Center job fairs bring together large numbers of companies and students.

More than 200 companies are expected on campus during the annual spring career fairs in February and March. Another 5,000 organizations are part of GCU’s Career Connections database, and nearly a dozen programs or events are scheduled for spring semester, an increasing number of which are college-specific.

This creates an obvious advantage for GCU by helping students and alumni contact, network and ultimately land jobs. Once inside, however, the success of GCU graduates and alumni has created pipelines between the school and dozens of companies around the Valley and beyond, including, Vanguard, ADP, The Hartford Group, Enterprise and REDW.

“(Companies) want to get into classrooms and meet students before even seeing a résumé,” said Jacqueline Smith, executive director of the Career IMPACT Center. “They want to partner with us and get to know students. They want to be involved in more ways than just job fairs.”

Northwestern Financial is one of the many top-notch companies that recruit on campus.
Northwestern Mutual is one of the many top-notch companies that recruit on campus.

Vanguard has 47 GCU alumni in its Scottsdale workforce, including 13 who have been hired in the last two years, according to Danielle McCormick, Vanguard's university relations specialist. Although it's known as a financial and investment services organization, Vanguard employees have accounting, marketing, business, entrepreneurism and other degrees that seamlessly fit among its 10 divisions that extend beyond finance.

Even better, Vanguard trains employees in any relevant financial and customer service knowledge.

Shane Keith earned his Business Management degree from GCU in 2013 and worked his way up within Vanguard as an operations supervisor in the Scottsdale office. He said the company culture was a huge draw for him, and he's had the opportunity to cross-train with three different departments during his tenure.

Community involvement and its mission and values statements also attracted Kate Mears, who worked at Vanguard for several years before she went back to school and earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from GCU in 2015.

“A lot of our values align with GCU’s and its students,” McCormick said. “I always tell people that the phrase ‘Find Your Purpose’ is the words you live by and the mindset to do your best for the communities and beyond.

“We look for people who are good communicators, which is a big need in the customer service industry. Strategic thinking is important for companies that are growing fast and doing things differently, beyond the box.”

Enterprise, which operates transportation rental agencies and services, hired 12 GCU graduates into its management training program in 2016 along with five former interns for full-time positions.

Katie Berry, Enterprise’s HR talent acquisition specialist, noted that two recent grads – Belen Avila and Matthew Craft – received “milestone promotions” within two months of being hired. Andree Reid was hired to join the management training program after he graduated with a criminal justice degree.

Berry also said student-athletes are popular choices for employment by Enterprise and other service-oriented organizations. The list includes former GCU basketball players Isaiah Hamlin, Toby Okafor and Uros Ljeskovic.

Companies that attend GCU career fairs widely considered it advantageous for them because of the timing: The fair before commencement in April allows both the companies and soon-to-be-graduates to get a leg up on possible competitors who graduate in May or even June.

“When someone attends or graduates from GCU, they have a higher standard,” Berry said. “There’s character they showcase in choosing to go to GCU. It’s the standards of the University, the ideals and curriculum. The quality of education and candidates we find through GCU goes back to their decision to attend there in the first place. We keep track of them.”

The REDW accounting and tax firm located near the Biltmore area employs two GCU alumni among its more than 50 Phoenix office employees: Christine Brunke (Class of 2010) is a senior audit associate, and recent graduate Christy Kiser is a tax accountant.

The company also has hired two GCU seniors for a tax program internship beginning in January, and, according to Jodi Kellerhals in REDW’s human resources department, it has "current GCU students in the pipeline for future full-time audit positions."

“We find that Grand Canyon University graduates fit wonderfully within our culture, vision and commitment to serve the community, our clientele and one another,” said Sandy Abalos, a principal in charge at REDW. “GCU is on the right track.”

So, too, are the increasingly symbiotic relationships between school and employer.

“We know our students are really prepared,” Smith said. “From large to small, the lists of events and successful alumni keep growing.”


Companies on Campus (11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Student Union)

Jan. 9:  Pacific Office Automation

Jan. 10: Circle K

Jan. 11: AZ Department of Environmental Quality

Jan. 17: The Hartford

Jan. 18: Prescott Pines Camp

Jan. 23: Human Resources, Inc.

Jan. 24: Yelp

Jan. 25: Infinity Hospice Care

Jan. 30: U-Haul International

Jan. 31: Amazon

Feb. 7: Great Hearts

Feb. 13: Vanguard

Feb. 15: Liberty Mutual Insurance

Other notable dates:

Jan. 11-17: Student-Worker Appreciation Week

Feb. 24:  GCU Pre-Health Grad School Fair (11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Student Union Promenade)

Feb. 28-March 8:  Career Week

Feb. 28: Mocktail Reception and Etiquette Dinner (5-8 p.m.; RSVP required)

March 1: Resume Review and Mock Interviews (10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Saguaro Hall; RSVP required)

March 2: Job/Internship Fair (11 a.m.-1 p.m., Main Promenade)

March 8: GCU Wants to Hire You (11 a.m.-1 p.m., Saguaro Hall)

For more information, visit the Career IMPACT Center website or call (602) 639-6606.

Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or [email protected]


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