Grad Students Build Resumes and Sustainability Credentials at Level Up Week

CSU College of Business graduate students talk with each other during Building & Leading Exceptional Teams, one of the classes offered during the free Level Up Week professional development program.

Each graduate program in CSU’s College of Business draws people with different goals, different backgrounds and different skillsets. But every student has one thing in common: the desire to learn and grow to transform their career.

Continuing its legacy of innovating to help students meet their professional goals, CSU’s College of Business launched Level Up Week at the beginning of 2022. The free, non-credit program available to all College graduate students was built like a miniature conference, with brewery tours and catered networking events mixed with dynamic group workshops. Students connected in-person and remotely with peers from different programs while gaining relevant professional experience, credentials and insights.

Students taking part in Level Up Week tour Gilded Goat Brewing Company, a brewery founded by College of Business associate professor of computer information systems, John Hoxmeier, and his son. The company has taken steps to measure and reduce the environmental impacts of its operations.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Level Up Week’s professional development programming was the emphasis on sustainability reporting and accounting. The College of Business is one of only a handful of licensed academic providers able to deliver the Sustainability Accounting credential from the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF), formerly known as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, in addition to offering the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Standards Certificate, delivered by ISOS group.

Combined, the two credentials help students who are passionate about sustainability develop new skills, improve their resumes and better prepare themselves for careers helping organizations effectively track and analyze key sustainability metrics.

“As more and more businesses realize there are tangible environmental and financial benefits to becoming more sustainable, professionals no longer have to be in a specific sustainability role to have credentials such as those offered by GRI and VRF be relevant and valuable,” Kat Ernst, director of the Impact MBA program said.

Ernst sees a major component of Level Up Week as getting critical sustainability knowledge to working professionals who can put their new skills to use immediately.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next generation to learn the science and strategies around mitigating the effects of climate change and working to reverse course. Instead, we must start to empower our current workforce with the tools to effect change today, and what better group than graduate students who are poised to become leaders in their organizations.”

In addition to the sustainability programs, Level Up Week also offered workshops on business legal practices, developing a consultancy, improving communication around high-stakes business topics, establishing purpose-driven culture, and exploring students’ unique skills through CliftonStrengths.

Preparing for Thriving Careers

Starting her Online MBA, graduate student Ana St. George expected that it would require her to be a bit more proactive in making connections with her classmates compared to in-person programs. However, active online communities, and the opportunity to attend College programs and events on campus, has made this process much easier.

“The Online MBA has been really flexible,” said St. George.

With a background in human resources, she was drawn to one workshop in particular, “Building and Leading Exceptional Teams” led by Travis Maynard, the associate dean for graduate programs.

“I’m excited to meet Dr. Maynard because of the HR research that he has done,” St. George said the day before the workshop.

That weekend, Maynard drew on insights from his research – which spans complex and demanding organizations like NASA, the U.S. Army, major medical providers and more – to help students prepare to be effective leaders in their fields.

Thanh Quach, who is pursuing a career in data analysis and is enrolled in the Master of Computer Information Systems program, came to Level Up Week curious about what his next steps will be after graduation.

One of the workshops took the students through the CliftonStrengths Assessment, where it became clear to Quach that the leadership experience he’d built across all his previous roles – and come to enjoy – was a valuable asset, and an area he could focus in on.

“We can use these insights to find relevant jobs,” Quach said.

With the College’s ongoing commitment to using Business for a Better World, Level Up Week offers another opportunity for students to become business leaders, putting skills into practice creating positive change for their organizations and the communities around them.

About CSU’s College of Business

Business for a Better World
The College of Business at Colorado State University is an AACSB-accredited business school focused on using business to create a better world.

The College provides programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students in top-ranked on-campus and online programs. College faculty impart students with the values, knowledge, and skills to navigate rapidly evolving markets and address global challenges with sustainable business models and practices. Our students are known for their creativity and resilience—resulting in a job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation and readiness to make a difference locally, nationally, and globally.

The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA degree that is among the 10 largest in the nation and its Impact MBA program recently recognized by Corporate Knights as a top 20 worldwide “Better World MBA” program.