The Lillis Complex, home of the Lundquist College of Business, is iconic on the University of Oregon campus. With its floor-to-ceiling solar glass, a giant “O” on its south façade, and a light-filled atrium, it’s been a photogenic hub for Ducks since opening in 2003.
A recent reconfiguring of the complex underscores a driving focus of the college: career readiness. Visitors entering Lillis from the south now see Lundquist admissions on the left side of the atrium and Mohr Career Services on the right. The message: careers are not the byproduct of higher education, they’re the destination—and students begin carving their path as soon as they enter the building.
The reorganization of space in Lillis isn’t the only evidence of the emphasis on job preparation in the business school. New initiatives, networking platforms, and gifts are connecting students, alumni, and employers like never before.
Mohr Career Services recently unveiled Lundquist Career Fundamentals, mandatory course work embedded in specific core courses that requires every student to give serious thought to the future and take steps toward their professional goals.
For example, students in the business analytics class of instructor Erik Ford learn to navigate Microsoft Excel—and the job market. Jessica Best, senior associate director of Mohr Career Services, visits weekly and assigns students to brainstorm careers, contact alumni in those careers, and prepare for informational interviews.
Those activities, says Ford, BS ’13 (general social science), MBA ’15, help students discover careers, land internships, and build the professional skills that will make them competitive job candidates.
“If you have those kinds of things along with your college degree, then you’re walking tall into an interview,” he says. “You’re definitely feeling good about marketing yourself and standing out from the pack.”
Last September, Mohr Career Services also launched Lundquist Connect, an online platform where students can connect with alumni, employers, recruiters, and peers. Students can meet professionals, ask questions, and find mentors, and the platform uses an algorithm to suggest professionals and others who share students’ interests. About 800 alumni and 800 students participate.
Bailey Hartwick, a junior in business administration and a first-generation college student, says connecting with professionals is vital to building her career.
Hartwick often reached out to people on the online employment service LinkedIn for networking, but the response rate was low: for every 10 people she contacted, she might hear back from one. The first time she used Lundquist Connect, she messaged 20 people; within days, 18 of them replied—and all agreed to participate in informational interviews.
“I wanted to learn about people’s career paths, how they got into the positions they were in, why they chose to take those paths,” she says. “The next couple weeks were insanely fast, just talking to all of these amazing people.”
Hartwick credits those conversations with helping her land an internship as a social media marketing manager for Rituals + Alchemy, a holistic wellness brand in San Francisco.
For Joel Wyman, who is pursuing an MBA in sports business, Lundquist Connect makes the act of sending messages to strangers a lot less intimidating. “People are already signed up and are interested in talking to current students or other professionals in the industry, so you get that awkward part out of the way,” he says.
Sarah Nutter, Edward Maletis Dean of the business college, has set a goal for every undergraduate business student to amass one year of professional experience before they graduate.
To that end, the college hosts more than a dozen groups where students can gain leadership experience—among them, the Oregon Consulting Group, Women in Business Club, UO Investment Group, and Warsaw Sports Business Club.
For Nutter, student success is not just about earning a degree—it’s about preparing for what comes after graduation.
“My goal is that our students leave with a job, with that next step in place,” she says. “When they leave, they have a plan for what they will do, and that gives them a solid step into who they are going to become throughout the rest of their life.”
Many of the school’s career-readiness efforts are made possible with the help of donors, most notably Jay Mohr, BS ’76 (marketing), and his wife Kim.
A major donation from the Mohrs in 2018 bolstered career services, funded scholarships, and allowed the school to implement Salesforce, relationship management software that helps the school stay engaged with employers.
For Mohr, the new location of career services on the first floor and the new career-preparation programs are important moves that will prepare students for their next steps in life.
“Get in there early—start thinking about it,” he says. “Begin with the end in mind and then work toward it.”
—By Emily E. Smith, BA ’10 (women’s and gender studies, journalism: news-editorial), a writer and editor in Bozeman, Montana
—Photo of Lillis Complex with flowers in foreground by Bob Delsol