Located in Lucina Hall, the Indiana Connection Lounge is an intimate space where the University hosts alumni, employers, and students, helping facilitate one-on-one and small-group introductions.
A first-of-its kind initiative, Ball State’s Indiana Connection Lounge is an intimate space and experience where alumni, employers, and students discuss career opportunities.
When Bret Pogemiller heard about Ball State University’s plans for its new Indiana Connection Lounge (ICL), his competitive juices started flowing.
For Mr. Pogemiller, a talent acquisition leader at IU Health, the ICL concept perfectly blended many of the key aspects of his job, including building and maintaining campus, community relations, and talent pipelines for Indiana’s largest healthcare provider.
Soon, the University would begin inviting state employers to spend the day on the Ball State campus to take advantage of the ICL’s intentional and strategic approach to career development, with its curated, concierge experience transforming normal recruiting experiences into a powerful talent pipeline development tool.
Mr. Pogemiller wasn’t just sold on the idea—he had to be first in line.
“I was super jazzed to partner with Ball State,” Mr. Pogemiller said. “When they were telling me, ‘Hey, we’re looking to launch. We want to partner with employers,’ I was like, ‘I want to be first. What date do I have to pick so I am first?’”
Ball State’s Career Center would indeed host IU Health as its first ICL client in September. The day was filled with prime opportunities for the company to tout its diverse career opportunities directly to students at the Health Professions Building, in numerous classrooms, at the Scramble Light, and on golf cart rides throughout campus. But when the IU Health contingent arrived at the new ICL facility around 1 p.m. that day, Mr. Pogemiller said they “had a line down the hallway of people waiting to get in to talk to us.”
“It was awesome,” he added.
For Jim McAtee, that experience for IU Health was the ideal launch for the ICL. Mr. McAtee, assistant vice president and executive director for career and professional development at Ball State, said the University is “really moving to try to enhance pathways for industry and higher education to collaborate.” And while Ball State will always support its students in their pursuit of fulfilling careers around the world, the ICL specifically addresses an imperative outlined in Goal 2 of the University’s strategic plan: responding to the workforce and labor market needs of Indiana. The Lounge positively contributes to the state’s economy and educational attainment objectives by connecting students with not only major employers but also small and medium-sized businesses and various regions of the state.
Recent data shows this focus is paying off. Ball State’s First Destination Report showed a 94-percent placement rate of the University’s Spring 2022 graduates. Of the students who reported employment, 78 percent work in Indiana, providing vital support for the state’s economy and adding robust skills to Indiana’s workforce.
“We want to create more connections between students, employers, and alumni,” Mr. McAtee said. “It’s exciting to invite large organizations like IU Health, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Penske Entertainment—as well as DHL, who does logistics and supply chain management, and Enterprise Holdings, a top recruiter of college graduates—to meet our students and expose them to these opportunities in Indiana. And it’s just as important for our students to meet with small- and medium-sized businesses that are the fabric of the state’s economy. Ball State students don’t have to seek out these opportunities; through the Indiana Connection Lounge we facilitate these connections. And, many times those companies bring back Ball State alums to help engage with students in the lounge.”
Located within Lucina Hall, the ICL is also a key resource for first-generation students, including those from diverse and economically challenged backgrounds, to “help fully leverage the socioeconomic ladder that higher education provides,” Mr. McAtee said.
“We wanted to create a space where students could come as they are and meet other people who are interested in their success,” Mr. McAtee said. “That was the vision for this; we were watching what was going on in the marketplace, and we wanted to create a space where our students could create more social capital and networking and make it easy to start to understand the opportunities around them.”
A first-generation student himself, Dr. Jeff Bird certainly understands the value of a University meeting its students where they are. After participating in IU Health Day at the ICL in September, Dr. Bird, president at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, said he’s looking forward to making ICL visits a routine part of his company’s recruiting efforts—not only for doctors and nurses, but for other key positions in areas such as social work, accounting, athletic training, marketing, and more.
“Recruiting and retaining Ball State students in our community is a priority for both institutions, and this new concept and lounge will make that much easier to do,” Dr. Bird said. “As a first-generation student myself, I recognize how important these connections and opportunities can be. My organization thinks the possibilities with the lounge are great, and we look forward to continuing to refine and develop the process with Ball State leaders.”
Ball State alumni or other business representatives interested in learning more about the Indiana Connection Lounge can call 765-285-1522, or email email@example.com.
Engaging partners in industry
What was formerly the Office of Governmental Relations at Ball State is now Governmental Relations and Industry Engagement. The unit builds upon the University’s track record of engaging its industry partners to bolster its students’ educational experience and better serve the state.
As the director for Industry Engagement, Jeff Eads, ’97, serves to engage and empower state regions and industry to build intentional talent pipelines that encourage Ball State students to consider them as an attractive place to live and work.
Additionally, Mr. Eads helps Indiana employers understand the strategic ways in which they can engage with the University to equip their current employees and organizations.
Contact Mr. Eads at firstname.lastname@example.org.