Some might think it’s a little too cliché but, as it turns out, Jennifer Riddle has been proven right.
“I always sign off my e-mails by saying, ‘you can’t go wrong by hiring a Yote,’” said Riddle, the assistant Dean of Academic Support and Experiential Learning. “At first, I thought it was a little cheesy, but you really can’t. I’m so impressed when we talk to these students.”
And Zippia, a website that helps people plan their careers, agrees. For the second straight year, Zippia selected The College of Idaho as the top college or university in the state for getting a job.
Riddle just concluded her fifth year leading the PEAK Center at the College, which helps students prepare for life after college. During her tenure, the Coyote Connections Live job board was formally launched, a career & internship fair was instituted, and an emphasis on building relationships within the community has grown to help give students opportunities once the classwork ends.
“Part of a community is that people have a vested interest in success of everyone in the community,” Riddle said. “I think that once students get here, they believe that, ‘I’m going to be supported throughout my journey here.’”
A part of that support is the College’s experiential timeline, a tool on which Riddle and several others have collaborated. A key piece of the timeline is teaching students that the preparation for post-college success begins early. As a freshman, students are introduced to networking opportunities and student involvement. As sophomores, students are encouraged to begin thinking about professional internships. Juniors begin the process of developing cover letters and professional resumes while growing their networks. Then, as seniors, students put the previous three years to work by exploring graduate school opportunities or begin applying for jobs.
Anecdotal evidence the plan is working? Sixty-one percent of seniors who graduated from the College in May completed professional internships during their academic careers. It is a number that has increased every year since Riddle arrived. And, of course, the back-to-back no. 1 rankings from Zippia.
“That tells me that our reputation is high because our product is good,” Riddle said. “It’s reinforced from the faculty. They say, ‘go in, see them and get help with this.’ It’s being reinforced by mentors on campus who are saying there is a plan for it (career planning).”
The support doesn’t end once students cross the stage in front of Boone Hall each spring and receive their diploma. Riddle and her staff routinely work with alumni, too, to help them with their careers. The help, whether with undergrads or alums, doesn’t go unappreciated.
“We get students who come back and say, ‘here’s what I’m doing and thank you,’” Riddle concluded. “We get that feedback of seeing that the support along the way has helped.”
The College of Idaho has a 128-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.