Experiential Learning Enhances Student Marketability
As the new employer relations coordinator in the Walla Walla University Student Development Center (SDC), Darel Harwell works to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.
“Experiential learning is moving to the forefront of higher education nationally and is quickly becoming the deciding factor in hiring decisions for employers looking at recent graduates,” says Harwell. “Experiential learning includes practicums, mentorships, research assistantships, volunteer work, internships and a variety of other formats that are all about gaining experience that allows students to apply a quality liberal arts education to the real world.”
Harwell meets with students to make recommendations about opportunities and works with employers to communicate details about the skills and responsibilities they want in an experiential learning candidate. This allows students to look for opportunities that align with their major and the skills they are learning in the classroom.
“Employers are largely excited about the idea of hosting students in their organizations,” says Harwell. “Smaller companies benefit from the added personnel, and our students often fill skills gaps in their structure, assisting with elements of a project that a small business might otherwise not have access to. Larger organizations recognize the opportunity to scout talent among upcoming graduates.”
To learn more about the SDC and the opportunities for students and employers, contact Harwell at 509-527-2089 or visit www.wallawalla.edu/sdc.
Scott Riseley, WWU university relations student writer