Orediggers are in demand
I’m writing this letter after watching Orediggers and industry recruiters meet to share resumes and information on job opportunities during our Fall Career Days. It’s always a week that stands out as campus is transformed by the number of unusually well-dressed students and many recent alumni who have returned to represent the companies they work for.
It was great to see a return to pre-pandemic participation levels. Orediggers are in demand. Each semester, I ask the recruiters why, and their answers don’t change.
They say Orediggers get things done. They have that unusual combination of technical depth and practical experience that is hard to find. They are humble, hard workers, figure things out, and not afraid of failure. Most of all, they are great team players.
Usually that last sentence is followed by a pause and “Don’t ever change that.” You see, being a great team player is a highly valued attribute in the engineering profession. Graduates of most selective and elite schools are educated in a competitive learning environment. They bring that competitiveness, rather than collaboration, to the companies that hire them, so Orediggers really stand out in the workplace.
Hanover Research recently polled employers to learn what skills they value most in recent graduates. Not surprisingly, they said they wanted team players with critical thinking skills who can analyze and interpret data and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. A similar survey in April 2021 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers returned nearly the same results.
Employers know what they want. But finding graduates possessed of such skills can be difficult. In the Hanover study, employers identified wide gaps between what was most desperately needed and what new graduates often brought to the workplace.
So what is it that makes our graduates so different and appealing to the 300-plus businesses at Fall Career Days? It’s the entirety of what we refer to as the “Signature Student Experience”—essentially everything that happens between Oredigger Camp and graduation day. If I had to write it as a recipe, it might have equal parts formal course work + practical experiences (field sessions, Capstone Design classes, internships, etc.) + extracurriculars (athletics, fraternities/sororities, clubs/organizations, professional societies) + study groups + blowing off steam (hiking, skiing, Coors Lab, etc.).
Through this, Orediggers build bonds and trust with one another. In classrooms, labs and club meetings, they crunch numbers, collaborate and solve problems. They build relationships and technical muscle, shoulder to shoulder, in residence halls, honors and scholars communities, study lounges, the foundry and on the international stage.
As evidenced by this issue of Mines Magazine, each student’s path through Mines is a little different, but there are common traditions, practices and opportunities—new and old—that ensure each student that earns a silver diploma is well-suited and prepared for the challenges ahead.
The Hanover study calls these powerful, important experiences “high-impact practices.” But for us, they’re simply how we do things—and the reason our alumni, and a Mines degree, are so highly prized.
Paul C. Johnson
President and Professor