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Project Aims to Improve Students’ Earning Potential

UL Online -- Mon, 07/29/2019 - 8:25am

Louisiana natives and transplants often voice the same refrain: There’s just something in the water.

“Well, it’s really the food and the people,” says Dr. Keith Credo, associate professor of management in the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.

Credo, a New Orleans native, was eager to return to the Bayou State after his graduate studies took him first to Florida for his master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology and a Master of Business Administration, and then to Alabama for his Ph.D. in Business, Organizational Strategy and Change Management.Dr. Keith Credo, associate professor of management at UL Lafayette

But Louisiana’s wildcatter nature drew Dr. Credo back to the state and, eventually the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, as much as the étouffée and friendly faces.

“It’s the entrepreneurial spirit and culture of Louisiana — the openness of students to taking risks and embarking on projects that might not work but could,” he says.

“A former student started a company bought out by Waitr, another former student started an international app development company. It’s nice when I see students making a lot more money than I do and are happy doing it.”

Dr. Credo wants to see students leave the business school fully prepared to nail their first job interview. This is where a lot of new graduates fail, hampering not only their job prospects but also their long-term earning potential.

To buck that trend, Dr. Credo leads students in his Behavioral Process in Organizations course (MGMT 350) through a project to assess and present their best selves.

The course is part of the curriculum for the bachelor’s in Business Administration in Management now offered online at UL Lafayette.

Dr. Credo says the course includes two projects that are, “designed to give students skills and perspectives on their own strengths that will help them in their next job or their first job, whatever that might be.”

The best-self project allows students to get accurate but positive feedback from peers, friends, and family in order to find themes that highlight their best selves.

Dr. Credo said this technique also could help close the gender wage gap.

In his research, Dr. Credo says, he’s found men and women project differently during the interview process, with women underrepresenting their strengths and abilities and men over representing their skills.

For most, Dr. Credo says, it’s easier to say, “this is what others say I do well…,” which can feel less like bragging for some job candidates.

“Using a best-self canvas has been shown through research to increase performance on a first job interview,” Dr. Credo says. “Your first job indicates your lifetime earnings; it’s one of the most significant factors.

“Through a little project providing some honest feedback about what these students do well, we can hopefully take steps early on before that wage gap is created.”

Students who successfully complete the online management course also take away valuable project management skills.

During a social entrepreneurship — or service learning — project, students use the four principles of management — planning, leading, organizing, controlling — to design, create, and manage a fundraiser project for a local charity of their their choice. Students then present on their project.

“The project helps with presentation skills and gives students an opportunity to delve into project management before they’ve even left the classroom while having a positive impact in the community,” Dr. Credo says.

These student projects have raised over $300,000 for charities over the last few years

Offering MGMT 350 and these projects online as part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s online BSBA in Management, is also providing students with the opportunity to develop key skills for the changing business landscape.

“Online learning is a challenge — it requires increased levels of pacing, self-discipline and time management,” Dr. Credo says.

“But it also prepares students to use tools that we have in online programs to communicate across distances while still effectively completing their tasks, which is critical as globalization increases at a faster rate than ever before.”

Develop the skills and earn the credentials you need to compete in today’s job market. Apply for the online Business Management degree program to earn the same bachelor’s degree as you would on campus. Apply today to start classes next term.