By Kim Lee
It’s not a matter of chance that so many success stories emerge out of the Beacom School of Business.
Beacom has built its structure with intention. Weaved into every aspect of a business student’s interactions are opportunities for any assistance a student would need to ensure future success: recruiting, job placement, undergrad and grad advising, peer advising and even events and webinars for students undecided on a major.
Kate Liveringhouse is a tremendous illustration of the kind of student success that emerges from the business school. The senior health services administration (HSAD) major and 6’ center for the Coyote women’s basketball team graduated in May 2018 with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She finished all this in only four years, the result of a fast-track curriculum.
A self-proclaimed “super planner,” the Bellevue, Nebraska, native was recruited to USD to play basketball. She initially declared a marketing major, and at the time, was armed with several college credits, taken in high school. She later decided on majoring in health administration. “It was during my sophomore year I realized I wanted a master’s degree and so that became my goal,” Liveringhouse explained. “During my junior year, the joint bachelor’s/ master’s program was started and it was the perfect opportunity for me.”
She’s worked hard, taking 15 credit hours each semester and six each summer, and she took 18 credits her final semester at USD to close out her collegiate career.
“I’ve had to be super focused,” she said. “My driving force has always been to get an education. I love basketball but education is a priority. I’m happy I was able to do something I love while getting my education.”
There is a reason why Beacom graduates enjoy a 97 percent job placement rate within three months and a 98 percent placement rate within six months, an impressive figure that Mandy Hanson, manager of the Beacom Career Success Center, said is a result of strong partnerships. “Beacom is fortunate to report a high placement rate year after year and it is a result of having prepared students and a strong relationship with regional and national employers,” she said. “Employers are confident that Beacom students will fit their staffing needs and we annually have dozens of companies who recruit right here on campus.”
Throughout most majors at USD, students start their advising at the university’s Academic and Career Planning Center, where they are advised for their first 45 credits and then transition to a faculty advisor. However, when students declare a business major, Beacom’s staff of three academic advisors counsel them from start to finish of their academic careers. Chad Pinkelman, one of those advisors, explained how that process became the standard for the business school. “We saw an opportunity to advise all the business students from beginning to end, from freshmen to graduates, resulting in less confusion and juggling,” he said. “Students get to know and trust their advisor.”
Pinkelman also facilitates the Beacom faculty mentoring program, where students meet one-on-one with a faculty member in their discipline, allowing them to gain deeper content perspectives and develop relationships with faculty mentors. “We’ll help them with whatever the students need, even if it’s directing them toward other services besides what we offer at the business school,” Pinkelman said.
Beacom’s Career Success Center is a dedicated hub that focuses on individualized career coaching. The center also facilitates opportunities for students to make meaningful connections, such as hosting on-campus interviews, career fairs and student organization fairs, where students are encouraged to join and seek leadership positions in student groups. The center builds relationships with alumni, employers and graduate schools to optimize opportunities for students. Located in a dedicated center in Beacom Hall, career services offers access to Coyote Careers (an online job and internship system), mock interviews, resume and cover letter review, workshops and more. These offerings assist students in developing experiences that will help to ensure future success.
“Career Services is the added value we can provide to benefit Beacom students,” explained Hanson. “Students learn in the classroom, they experience the work place through internships and summer jobs, but Career Services provides one additional level of support that ensures Beacom students stand out as the candidate of choice during a job search. We consider it the extra investment in making sure our students are prepared for the future.”
Payton Larsen graduated in spring 2018 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance after just three years. The Sioux Falls Roosevelt graduate came to USD in 2015 with a substantial number of credit hours already under his belt, helping him to complete his degree in less time than the traditional four years.
He’s also one of the 14 peer advisors for the business school, upper-class students who mentor first-year students with the goal of ensuring smooth transitions for the new students. Now in its first full year of implementation, the peer advising program helps students make adjustments to college life and ensures that students are getting involved and exposed to campus organizations and events.
Advisors are paired with a group of 10-15 freshmen and then meet on a regular basis, assisting with tasks like registering for classes and transitioning into their new lives as college students. “The small-group mentoring helps in both academic and social aspects,” Larsen said. “We help with in-class stuff and with study habits, for example. It’s my hope that the experience helps the freshmen to feel belonging and make smooth transition, to lessen the learning curve.”
Those kinds of opportunities for real-world experiences through student involvement is imperative, says Liveringhouse. Part of her education incorporated experiential learning, including internships for the executive director of organizational excellence at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton as well as for the director of service line coordination for Avera Health in Sioux Falls. Liveringhouse explained, “It was an amazing experience—I met CEOs, CFOs and learned a lot about how to run a successful health care system. I worked with doctors and saw how they interacted with administrators. I sat in a lot of meetings and learned a lot from them. It was incredible.”
Liveringhouse is involved with a student professional organization, Healthcare Executives Advancing in Leadership (HEAL), serving as its president last semester. The group brings in health care administrators to speak about what it takes to get where they are. She was also able to attend the South Dakota Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) conference in Deadwood, South Dakota, last year.
“Real-world experiences don’t compare to classroom work,” she said.
Larsen has also taken advantage of internships made possible by Beacom. He has two internship experiences under his belt, one with Holmes Murphy and the other with the South Dakota Investment Council, which garnered him a full-time job: upon his May 2018 graduation, he started as a research analyst for the council in Sioux Falls. While a student, he was also a part of Coyote Capital Management (CCM), Financial Management Association, and the USD Honors Program and was a B School dean’s ambassador.
"Beacom helped me with my professional relationships and goals, and I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime." - Payton Larsen
He speaks to the importance of harnessing the opportunities Beacom offers: “My involvement in these kinds of extracurriculars helped lessen the learning curve and develop relationships with professors. The student activities help with internships, interviews and getting jobs. They bolster my resume and experience on campus. Beacom helped me with my professional relationships and goals, and I’ve made friends that will last a lifetime.”