Having employer-ready graduates is a priority at UNI Business. Part of that focus means helping students obtain professional certifications and credentials — like Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner, Six Sigma Green Belt, etc. — before graduation, boosting their marketability for companies and making them career ready.

According to outcome measures from NC Tower looking at North Carolina employment numbers, students who graduate with these industry certificates have high rates of employment and competitive salaries. The reasons are simple: Students graduate more prepared and with real-world skills, and employers don’t have to spend as much time training.

“Not only do credentials make students more marketable on the job market, but it also teaches students confidence in a specific area,” said Jenny Connolly, professional academic advising manager. “I think this is one of the ways that helps us stand out amongst our peers. Walking out with the credentials before graduation is much better than trying to earn them after graduation.”

UNI Business has long been a proponent of professional certifications. Accounting students have been encouraged to take the CPA exam for many years, and the college has a specific track for those interested. The CPA exam qualifies students for more job opportunities and heightens their earning potential. Employers actually seek out students who graduate from UNI’s accounting program because of this history of success.

“This strategy, combined with the accounting students' pass rate success, has been instrumental in establishing the college's reputation for excellence,” Dean Leslie Wilson said. “Over the past decade, we have expanded the credentials available to students because we firmly believe that these external, professional credentials validate the outstanding curriculum and educational experiences that we provide to students.”

One of the key programs in that expansion is the Professional Readiness Program, which teaches hard skills and certifications to students. The first two years of the program are required, and there are two more levels that can be taken in addition. Level 4 includes 1-on-1 mentoring with business alumni.

Katie Hillyer, director of the PRP, said the PRP has received rave reviews from alumni in the business world. Skills taught include public speaking, Excel mastery, email etiquette and more.

“Alumni consistently report that the skills they gained in PRP have helped them both get the job and succeed while on the job,” Hillyer said. “All students have received training on the skills essential for success in the workplace, and those who have progressed into the upper levels of the program have also gained credentials to make them marketable.”

UNI Business’ certifications span many departments, from finance to management to accounting. You can find the full list, and other work experience programs in the college, here.