CSU’s LINK Program has for years provided minority students, largely from Greater Cleveland-area high schools, with internship and cooperative education opportunities. Its goals have been both to promote minority student participation in occupational fields that are in high demand as well as to serve as a recruitment and retention tool for promising students. The program has been successful largely because of strong support from corporate and organizational employers and LINK alumni as well as a mentoring program for students that has anchored the initiative.
New efforts to transform CSU’s career services function into the Career Success Network promise to reach more students of color and to provide more comprehensive and inclusive support such as mentoring to all students through the everyday operations of the Network. At the same time, there is universal recognition that a continuing initiative that focuses on increasing minority participation in high-growth fields is beneficial to CSU, its students and Northeast Ohio employers.
The following redesign of the LINK Program recognizes these complementary objectives. It builds on the program’s long-standing strengths while sharpening its scope in such a way as to ensure its high performance and its sustainable effectiveness. The Program draws upon the resources and services available through the Career Success Network as well as the other functions of the Division of University Engagement, including the Office of Civic Engagement and the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement.
Under the new program guidelines, the LINK Scholars Program serves up to 45 full-time, undergraduate students of color each year. Students are eligible to apply for the program during spring semester of their first year on campus. Although the program’s developmental structure is suited primarily for rising sophomores, students who transfer into the University with more than 30 credit hours are eligible for consideration. Students receive a $2,000 scholarship upon acceptance into the program. It is the program’s intention to renew the scholarship for each subsequent year that the student is enrolled at CSU and meets program requirements for a total of three years. Students from all majors are eligible to apply, but preference is given to those students who have chosen Career Lines that align with high-growth career areas in Ohio as identified in the State’s “In-Demand Occupations” report (http://jfs.ohio.gov/owd/OMJResources/State-BachRelated.stm).
Students are eligible to apply for the program during spring semester of their first year on campus. Finalists for the program will participate in an interview process. A panel made up of University faculty, staff and administrators, employers and CSU alumni will make final selections. Those students best positioned to be selected will have:
- Achieved at least a 2.5 GPA during their first semester at CSU.
- Declared a Career Line that aligns with high-growth career areas in Ohio.
- Completed the Get Ready! station – the first phase – of Career Success Network’s Career Success Map.
- Demonstrated the tenacity, grit and determination needed to successfully pursue a career plan that leads to full-time employment upon graduation.
To maintain eligibility in the program, students will be expected to:
- Maintain a 3.0 GPA.
- Show continuous progress along the Career Success Map.
- Obtain and successfully fulfill the requirements of a paid internship or co-op during the summer or academic year after their first full year of participation in the program and each subsequent summer or academic year until graduation.
- Participation in multicultural student success programs offered through the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement.
- Participation in at least one civic engagement activity offered through the Office of Civic Engagement, the Department of Student Life, a student organization, or an employer.
As part of their selection into the program, LINK Scholars receive:
- A $2,000 scholarship during their first year of eligibility and renewal of the scholarships, based on the availability of funds, for up to two additional years.
- Access to all services available through the Career Success Network, including online assistance, courses and workshops, guidance from Talent Development Coordinators, and assistance from alumni, student and employee volunteers.
- Assistance from a Program Coordinator to monitor students’ consistent advancement through the Success Map.
- An Employer Champion, specifically recruited for the LINK Scholars Program, to provide mentorship and guidance.
- Occasional special programming for LINK Scholars as arranged by the Program Coordinator.
- Academic support through the multicultural student success programs offered by the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement.
- Connection to civic engagement activities through the Office of Civic Engagement.
During the summer before the year they are scheduled to graduate LINK students will participate in a CSU study abroad excursion. To the extent possible, the trip will be incorporated into an existing CSU study abroad excursion such as the Executive MBA trip.
During the 2014-15 academic year, the Program will be managed by the Office of Civic Engagement’s Director of Community Partnerships in close collaboration with the Career Success Network and the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement. The Program will be reviewed at the end of the academic year to determine appropriate oversight going forward.
Funding for program scholarships is provided by corporate and private donors, and foundations. CSU will actively solicit private funding for the program, both its scholarship and operations.