Since it launched in June, eight Connecticut College students and recent graduates have participated in Koru, an immersive, college-to-career program that builds business skills through hands-on, experiential learning in a real-world environment.
Koru challenges participants to solve real problems for leading employers, including REI, zulily and Payscale, and provides intensive coaching each step of the way. The College became a founding partner with the Seattle-based program in February.
“The genius of Koru lies in the way it teaches students marketable skills in realworld situations, while also fostering the kind of collaborative learning environment that allows our students to thrive,” said President Katherine Bergeron. “It complements and enhances the comprehensive career programming that we already provide.”
By working on real projects, students develop hard skills, including business fundamentals, analytics and design-thinking, as well as soft skills such as how to give impactful presentations, conduct effective meetings and network. They are taught to take risks and “fail fast and cheap.”
“Failure is a key part of discovery and innovation, and the goal is to fail early and often while the consequences are still low,” said Denny Meadows, a former vice president at Nordstrom and one of the Koru coaches. “It’s about shifting the paradigm from what most students have become familiar with, where failure is something to be avoided at all costs.”
Tara Gabelman ’14 participated in the first four-week program in June. She worked on a prototype to allow zulily, an online retailer that offers daily deals for trendy moms, to expand into a new market.
She said the experience was intense from day one. “You are given a problem to solve, then they throw you out onto the street and tell you to do market research,” she said. “The more you do it, the better you get at it. They try to push you out of your comfort zone because that’s the only way you get better.”
Current students and recent graduates can apply for the program through the College’s career office.