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Career-immersion program with Koru supports Bates’ purposeful work initiative

Students in a Koru pilot program.

Students work through a business challenge at Koru. Bates has partnered with the Seattle-based firm in the launch of an initiative designed to give students the opportunity to hone skills needed by forward-looking, high-growth employers. (Photograph courtesy of Koru)

Bates is one of 13 colleges and universities across the nation that are founding partners in an effort to improve students’ career prospects through workplace immersion programs.

Bates President Clayton Spencer announced today that the college is partnering with the Seattle firm Koru in the launch of an initiative designed to give students the opportunity to hone skills needed by forward-looking, high-growth employers.

“Preparing students for purposeful work is central to the liberal arts mission, making this partnership particularly exciting for Bates,” says Spencer. “A liberal arts education equips our students with high-level analytical and critical thinking skills, creative approaches to problem-solving and habits of collaboration incorporating multiple perspectives.

Bates President Clayton Spencer

“Preparing students for purposeful work is central to the liberal arts mission, making this partnership particularly exciting for Bates,” says President Clayton Spencer. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“The Koru program will build on this foundation by providing hands-on experience in the workplace that will allow our students to hone a set of skills more specific to career success. Everyone wins.”

Koru’s programming is designed to foster workplace effectiveness through exposure to actual work environments and the development of practical skills, professional networking and personal confidence.

Executives from high-growth companies will coach Bates students in specific but broadly applicable skills, such as design thinking and rapid prototyping, financial analysis and Excel use and workplace efficacy, including business communications, interpersonal effectiveness and high-impact presentations.

Koru’s approach fits well with the principles and values undergirding Bates’ college-wide initiative on purposeful work.

Through self-assessment and interviewing sessions, they will learn to present themselves positively as job candidates. In the process, they will build a direct network of connections with professionals and with other talented students.

Koru’s approach fits well with the principles and values undergirding Bates’ college-wide initiative on purposeful work. Led by a working group of faculty and staff, this initiative builds on the premise that preparing students for lives of meaningful work lies at the heart of the liberal arts mission.

When the initiative is fully developed, Bates will offer every student a four-year course of co-curricular programming including cycles of exploration, reflection and skill-building; practitioner-taught courses during the college’s five-week spring term; and a highly structured Bates-specific network of funded internships.

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Koru’s programming is designed to foster workplace effectiveness through exposure to actual work environments and the development of practical skills, professional networking and personal confidence. (Photograph courtesy of Koru)

In the Koru program, students from Bates and partner colleges will work in teams to design solutions to business problems submitted by a corporation that is actually hiring. Initial partners are outdoor outfitter REI and the online marketplace zulily. The teams will ultimately present their solutions to the company’s corporate leadership, receiving real-time feedback on their ideas and presentation skills.

The Koru program includes structured time for reflection, seen as key to the goal of harmonizing the students’ academic training with their experiences during the Koru immersions.

“The piece I really like is that the program focuses on high-growth, innovative companies,” adds David McDonough, director of the Bates Career Development Center. Koru emphasizes close engagement with employers like REI, zulily, Trupanion and Smartsheet, which are seeking a better way to recruit early-career talent.

Four Koru program sessions of four weeks each are planned, taking place in Seattle in June, July and September, and in San Francisco in September. Bates will place from six to eight students in Koru programs during June and July of this year.

The other academic partners in the program are Brown University, Colorado College, Connecticut College, Denison University, Georgetown University, Mount Holyoke College, Occidental College, Pomona College, University of Southern California, Vassar College, Whitman College and Williams College.

Koru was founded by Kristen Hamilton, former co-founder at Onvia and COO at World Learning, and Josh Jarrett, former head of Higher Education Innovation for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and consultant with McKinsey & Company. Learn more.



2 Responses to “Career-immersion program with Koru supports Bates’ purposeful work initiative”

  1. Fisher Qua says:

    And there are a few Batesies involved with program delivery and the funding of Koru, too!

  2. Anne Shields says:

    Fantastic! This is just one more reason I’m proud of Bates!

    Anne Keenan Shields ’80

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