8 Colleges With the Best Programs to Get You Jobs


Over spring break, my youngest son and I went on college visits. We were most intrigued by the major-specific sessions, where we learned about not only various departments within each college, but also ways to get real-world experience before graduation.

Cooperative work/study programs and paid internships, in particular, appealed to me as I envisioned financial benefits while he was in college and job placement afterwards. My son especially liked the prospect of getting paid experience to fund his tuition while maintaining his status as a college student. When exploring your choices, consider how colleges and universities such as these introduce you to the working world. (See also: How Much College Can Your Kid Afford?)

1. University of Maryland

Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators can find resources at the University of Maryland to connect them and their ideas to the outside world. Opportunities for strategic planning, development, and funding for business and social ventures include weekly meetings with successful entrepreneurs; competitions relating to business plans, clean energy, and social impact; intellectual property legal resources; and access to an angel investor network.

Elsewhere: If you are an inventor or entrepreneur, check out programs that bridge the gap between campus and the community. These may be offered through traditional means such as your career center as well as broader university and area resources such as speaker events, commercialization labs, and business-plan or innovation competitions.

2. Rice University

Rice University Center for Career Development office has set up a Career Mentor Network on LinkedIn. Students are encouraged to initiate and participate in career-related discussions with alumni online. This arrangement is similar to informational interviewing, but done via social media rather than phone and face-to-face sessions. Like an informational interview, the purpose is to get better understanding of real-world activities, not ask for a job.

Elsewhere: Many universities offer mentoring or networking programs that connect students with alumni. Take advantage of whatever contacts you can make while in school or upon graduation.

3. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Students earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations through clinical rotations in various healthcare settings. Uniquely, the university arranges clinical experiences for online students. Eligibility is limited to those in special programs, designed for RNs who hold an associate degree in nursing and graduates with a bachelor's degree in another field.

Elsewhere: Most nursing programs, and many healthcare related disciplines, contain a clinical component that connects students to the working world. Look for arrangements that will fit your work-life needs, and enable you to get desirable clinical experience with targeted employers.

4. Shelton State Community College

Alabama's Shelton State Community College is involved in a joint venture with a major employer that aligns technical education with specific needs in the working world. Training provided by the college prepares students for work at the Mercedes production plant.

Elsewhere: Many community colleges have the mission of preparing students for opportunities in industry. But often the facilities at a college are out of sync with current technologies and business needs. Look for programs that match training with in-demand skills and facilitate hands-on experiences with area employers.

5. Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)

Art and design internships are available in a variety of disciplines, such as Animation, Filmmaking, and Sculpture. Students may work with local organizations as well as those that are known nationally and internationally. They contribute to real-world projects, developing skills in working with people and bringing ideas to life while building their portfolios.  

Elsewhere: Find ways to expand your portfolio, which should naturally lead to professional connections. Plus, such projects can give you insights into methods of channeling your creativity to community and business needs.

6. The University of Texas at Austin

Undergraduate students earning a BBA degree (Bachelor of Business Administration) from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business are required to complete an internship. The BBA Career Services team provides support in landing internships, which are eligible for course credit. These experiences enable students to make professional contacts while giving them insights into how their studies prepare them for specific assignments in the working world.

Elsewhere: Locate and secure internships through your own research or under the guidance of career centers at your college or university. Note that some opportunities are paid while others are unpaid or even require payment for your participation.

7. Drexel University

Over 90% of eligible undergraduate students participate in a co-op program at Drexel University. Students work one or three semesters, depending on opportunities in their majors and whether they want to graduate in four or five years.

Co-op positions are available for a wide variety of majors, including Anthropology, Design and Merchandising, Film and Video, Marketing, Sociology, and Sport Management.

Elsewhere: When evaluating a school, ask about cooperation education opportunities offered through collaborations among the college or department of your intended major, the university's career center, and employers.

8. Monmouth University

An introduction to the working world for education majors begins early at Monmouth University. Field experiences start in the sophomore year, continue in the junior year, and culminate in a semester of student teaching in the student's senior year of college.

Elsewhere: Nearly all aspiring teachers complete a student-teaching component before graduation. Getting real-world experience early is wise, either through a formal program or arrangements you make yourself with individual schools. More observation and hands-on experience can help you 1) decide whether to pursue classroom teaching as a career and 2) better prepare you to manage classroom activities.

How were you introduced to the working world while earning your degree?

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