Students explore opportunities with employers at campus Laker Accelerated Talent Link event

People lined up on either side of tables converse.
Carly Wolfe, second from right, talks with Chris Holka of Acrisure, left, during the Laker Accelerated Talent Link Meet the Employers Event in Henry Hall January 23.

Carly Wolfe, a statistics major, has a knack for numbers but also a need to figure out how to turn her passion for data analysis into a career.

So she joined fellow Lakers at a “Meet the Employers” event Jan. 23 in Henry Hall as Grand Valley showcased the possibilities of the Laker Accelerated Talent Link .

The Talent Link pairs Grand Valley students with companies that provide an enhanced internship experience for students. The program also features opportunities to earn a certificate in an area related to business or technology on top of a degree; scholarship support from the partner employer and, if the program is completed, a good-faith job offer from the employer upon graduation.

Wolfe, who is interested in the Applied Data Analytics certificate, said the structure of the program, with so many steps in place, is appealing.

A person holding a paper speaks to a person who is bending down toward the table.
Tatyana White, senior talent program specialist at Corewell Health, left, talks with students during the Laker Accelerated Talent Link Meet the Employers event.

"Otherwise, I'd be shooting in the dark. That's what I was doing and then I found this and I thought 'This sounds so perfect for me,'" said Wolfe, who added she is excited about the possibilities to apply what she learned in her data science minor.

Wolfe is hoping to be part of the next cohort of students in the Talent Link, which launched in 2023 as an innovative work-and-learning partnership offering a customized learning experience geared toward meeting Michigan’s talent needs.

"The Laker Accelerated Talent Link is off to a strong start and we're eager to make an even bigger impact next year," President Philomena V. Mantella said. "Making an early connection benefits both students and employers as we help build Michigan's talent pipeline."

Some students attended the event knowing about the Talent Link, while others who were passing through stopped to learn more.

A person talks to another person, who is holding a paper.
Dana Hebreard, Talent Link program specialist, left, talks with student Adedolapo Adeniji, right.
A person gazes upward and smiles while conversing with someone.
Lauryn Babb, left, talks with employers from Cascade Engineering. Babb is a student studying statistics and psychology.

Adedolapo Adeniji, a marketing major, was one of those students just learning about the Talent Link. Adeniji said the event was a good chance to expand the search for an internship while also adding in certificate and job possibilities.

A representative at the Acrisure table, Chris Holka, said students who work with Acrisure as part of the Talent Link have an opportunity to make an impact at a global company, where they are set up for success as an intern with the expectation that they'll progress to full-time employment.

Holka, senior IT recruiter, said the company also benefited in the first cohort from the different perspectives that students from liberal education backgrounds bring.

"Last cycle we hired a history major inside of our intelligent automation data analytics group," Holka said. "She was extremely passionate about the numbers, about the data, figuring out why things happened during the time period that they did and being able to tie that together. She was able to bring in that fresh perspective and apply it to that business setting." 

That experience is a hallmark of the Talent Link, said Jennifer Drake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"The Talent Link provides employers with well-rounded, career-ready students, and gives students majoring in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences programs the opportunity to showcase their skills," Drake said. "Our students are well-equipped with a global perspective, strong communication skills, and creative problem-solving abilities, all of which are highly desirable to employers. The Talent Link is an investment in our students and in our community. We are committed to its growth."

A stack of flyers explains the Laker Accelerated Talent Link, including Program Details.

Indeed, one of the representatives at the Corewell Health table, Kaylee Bueche, said she feels a personal connection to students with a liberal education background, noting she started in health care communications and administration and then eventually moved into a recruitment role.

She said the Talent Link is providing an opportunity for students who may not have a common degree for some businesses.

"To be successful in business, even if you have the skill sets needed in data analysis or other hard skills, you still have to be able to communicate and work as a team member," Bueche said. "I feel like these students need someone to take a chance on them."

Bueche's colleague, Tatyana White, said the Talent Link has also helped introduce students to employment opportunities at Corewell Health that go beyond the medical field.

"In my role it's about building partnerships," said White, senior talent program specialist. "Being able to offer something unique and something different allows students to learn more about us and us to learn more about the community and the community's needs."


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