More than 30 Niagara University alumni who found employment at regional companies returned to Monteagle Ridge to recruit fellow Purple Eagles at a recent Career Expo.

To respond to an evolving job market, institutes of higher learning must develop curriculums that align with what employers need and want from the workforce. Niagara University has established numerous collaborations with corporate partners to create a career pipeline that builds their talent pools while preparing students for 21st century careers and helping them to develop the confidence, clarity of direction, and heightened sense of purpose to succeed in their chosen professions.

One of Niagara University’s strongest partners is M&T Bank. In 2004, it launched the M&T Bank/Niagara University Alumni Network to foster a community of belonging and continuous development for Niagara graduates working at the bank. It also works with the alumni office to host networking activities. M&T comes to Niagara’s campus for events; is involved in its volunteer initiatives; supports student internships, recruiting, and mentoring opportunities; and works with faculty to deliver training for its Management Development Program and Corporate Compliance Groups.

“M&T’s corporate values and priorities are very much aligned with NU in terms of our focus on developing individuals that transform our communities and our workplace,” said Bill Kennelly, administrative vice president. “NU alumni have a strong track record of contributing to our priorities and supporting our values.”

Niagara University has also established a multifaceted partnership with Pegula Sports and Entertainment to collaborate on educational and marketing initiatives. PSE offers experience in a variety of professions, including finance, law, event operations, human resources, creative services, business development, marketing, athletic training, and hospitality, and the partnership utilizes PSE’s extensive variety of corporate entities and teams to create real-world educational content for Niagara students. In the last year, PSE has hosted a number of Niagara University events at its properties or venues, participated in Career Services events, provided senior executives to speak with students, and began working with Niagara University faculty to mine and interpret data for the benefit of both parties.

“We are proud to be partnered with Niagara University,” said Dan Misko, vice president of sales/business development at Pegula Sports and Entertainment. “There is great alignment between our organization and Niagara University, and we look forward to being a small catalyst as they navigate a challenging higher education landscape the next few years.”

Niagara University’s Food Marketing Center of Excellence is a collaboration between food industry leaders and the College of Business’ marketing department to create, build, and inspire transformative programs and partnerships that position the food industry of Western New York at the pinnacle of global excellence, while enriching educational and service opportunities for students. Students can interact with employers through their courses, performing research and case studies to gain greater insight into their fields of study. Food executives from companies including Acosta, Perry’s Ice Cream, Try-It Distributing, The Clorox Company, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., Kreher’s Farm Fresh Eggs, Coca-Cola, Rich Products, Tops Friendly Markets, Lactalis Dairy Company, Upstate Milk Coop, and Rosina Food Products Inc., serve on the FMC advisory board, providing valuable insight about current industry issues and challenges and working with students in class.

The College of Hospitality and Tourism Management works regularly with Visit Buffalo Niagara on projects related to strengthening the local tourism industry while giving students hands-on experience, and has partnered with Merani Hotel Group to synergize efforts to develop the outstanding hospitality leaders of tomorrow.

“We have been extremely impressed with the quality of the students and recent graduates of Niagara University who have either interned or worked on our properties,” said Faisal Merani, president of the Merani Hotel Group. “Due to the binational presence of Niagara University and our hotel group, the experiences that we will offer students will greatly impact their global career opportunities upon graduation. At the same time, developing and sustaining a pipeline of experienced, accomplished young leaders is of utmost importance to the hospitality and tourism industry.”

In addition to M&T Bank, Career Services at Niagara University has developed relationships with employers including Mass Mutual, American Niagara Hospitality, and Alliance Advisory Group, who provide internships, conduct on- and off-campus interviews, participate in industry-specific and general recruitment and networking events, and serve as employers-in-residence. Some have even entered into articulation agreements that give their own employees the opportunity to further their education at Niagara University at a reduced tuition rate.

“Our corporate partnerships program lets us engage our employers well beyond the traditional recruitment activities that take place within career centers,” said Michael Skowronski, assistant director of Career Services. “These partnerships have fostered enhanced working relationships with faculty in regard to case studies, classroom presentations, research, and new student recruitment. We work hard to cultivate these relationships, and our corporate partners continue to engage with us because our students help them meet their hiring goals with high-quality candidates.”

These mission-critical partnerships have been beneficial both for the employers, who look to Niagara graduates to fill their job openings, and for Niagara’s students, who are prepared with the skills relevant to their fields and for the job market of the future.

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