In the fall of 2013, the College of Business at Nicholls State University, in partnership with industry, launched a 4-year bachelor’s program in management designed to train students for professional management positions in maritime and maritime-related firms. This collaborative effort has resulted in students being well prepared to meet specific workforce needs. More knowledgeable graduates are positioned for greater opportunities and higher starting salaries. Firms benefit from better-trained employees and lower training costs and turnover. The community benefits as highly skilled workers remain in the region instead of leaving the state. Dr Joe Orgeron, an instructor in the program since its inception, recently stated, “I’ve seen first-hand how this concentration prepares students for our ever-changing maritime industry. Whether their goal be a career focused on the inland waters of the Mississippi River, offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, or within the new expanding maritime markets like offshore renewables, the Maritime Management concentration at NSU will better prepare them for the maritime market of tomorrow.”
The College of Business is proud of the relationships developed and enhanced through the collaborative efforts of industry and higher education. The Maritime Management concentration was proposed during a strategic planning retreat. After considering this, the College determined that it could provide students with opportunities that might not otherwise exist and differentiate the school from others in the state. From that point forward, local and regional firms provided the funding and industry knowledge to create content, courses, and the curriculum. The result is an excellent example of industry-university collaboration in pursuit of mutually beneficial objectives.
The success of the program is measured by the career-enhancing outcomes delivered for the students. Since its inception, students have completed over 80 internships in over 60 local and regional firms. Also, almost one-third were offered full-time positions upon internship completion. In just the last two months, three students received full-time offers following their internships. This despite their not being scheduled to graduate until May 2021. This is a testament to our students, the program, and the support of the industry. In addition, success stories such as these reflect favorably on our instructors, who do an exceptional job in preparing students to contribute to a dynamic regional and global economy as well as educated, responsible, and engaged business professionals. Further success is noted in that 90% of the maritime graduates received full-time employment in maritime and maritime-related firms. Several of the employers have hired multiple maritime graduates because of their satisfaction with former students who possess industry-specific knowledge and skillsets.
As we in the region know all too well, the business environment related to the maritime industry, especially the oil and gas sector, is quite different today than it was in 2013. As a result, like many of the firms in our area, the Maritime Management concentration has sought to respond to these changes. The program has diversified in terms of course content, presentations, and our target markets. As a result, broader ranges of companies, including those along the Mississippi River, have become increasingly involved in the internship program and a source of employment for our graduates.
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