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Connect students with opportunities in your organization

By Nicki Donnelson
UniteNews Contributing Writer

No matter where you are in an organization – from the intern to the CEO – you got your start by being offered an opportunity. Maybe it was a chance to excel in the classroom. Maybe it was at a lemonade stand where you made your first buck. Or maybe your current position is that big opportunity.

“Creating opportunities to grow and succeed is the backbone of what we do at efactory,” said Emily Denniston, director of community engagement and operations.

Since the beginning, efactory served as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the support services and resources that would help them overcome common challenges startups encountered.

“We’ve expanded services to meet the needs of small and large businesses, professionals, and students,” Denniston said. “The town-gown relationship is real, and we want to continue to facilitate opportunities to build students’ and graduates’ skills and keep talent here. It helps the whole community.”

Through efactory, you can connect with students and be the one who offers an extraordinary springboard to future success.


Launchpad is the newest collaborative space on Missouri State University’s campus. Here students can find jobs, interview for positions, have materials reviewed, and meet with prospective employers.

You can schedule time to visit with students or showcase your organization, too. Visit

Graduate assistantships

Missouri State recently rolled out the community-sponsored graduate assistantship program, which can be a huge asset to an organization. Prior to this, graduate assistantships were solely available to students on campus, but the university always knew that there was so much untapped potential for students if they were to get more community experience.

Through this arrangement, you can offer a position to a talented graduate student and benefit from their insights while they also learn from you.

However, the students are technically employees of the university, which eases the burden for your organization. It also gives you access to hiring international graduate students. Otherwise, they would be ineligible for hiring off-campus.

“Hosting a graduate assistant is a win for all,” said Dr. Julie Masterson, dean of the Graduate College. “The student brings a fresh perspective and can help in a variety of areas, which frees up senior staff to focus on higher-level issues. The employer provides real-world experience, which makes coursework come alive for the student. It can be somewhat like a long-term interview resulting in talent acquisition for the company and a desirable first job for the student.“

Course projects

University classrooms can be a breeding ground for innovative solutions to questions in the workplace. Therefore, we connect community organizations with MSU classrooms to design course projects that can be beneficial to all parties.

Students get the hands-on experience they need while employers get fresh perspectives and a chance to meet future leaders.

As an example, CoxHealth has participated in course projects. Their leadership team continues to find value in teaming up with the students in this way.

“In addition to the changes we made during the project, we have continued to leverage their findings on subsequent work as well,” said John Chastain, CoxHealth.

Fostering talent

Building a strong workforce at your company, creating a more educated community talent pool or upskilling yourself to improve your livelihood takes intentionality. This year, take the time to create opportunities for yourself and others around you.

Check out several options for fostering talent here in Springfield:

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