Braven: The class experience explained

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Mingda Wu

The south side of the Holmes Student Center on a foggy day. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

By Caleb Johnson, News Reporter

A new online course at NIU, Braven Leadership and Career Accelerator, aims to help students improve their career searching and networking skills. The course, UNIV 301, is run in part by both NIU career service specialists and Braven professional coaches.

“(Braven) is a nonprofit based out of Chicago that seeks to reduce equity gaps that exist for students of color,” said Cathy Doederlein, director of employee experience. “They also work with first-generation college students with greater financial aid, as this relates to getting a strong first job after they graduate and have a competitive salary.”

The course doesn’t use Blackboard, but rather a different service, called the Braven Portal, to interact and provide course content and videos. The course also uses Discord as a way to chat and communicate about class.

Students are all together for the first week, then in week two, the class breaks students up into cohorts – groups of five to eight people – for the rest of the class. These cohorts work on projects together and are given a professional coach to help guide them to build their professional skills such as creating resumes, professional portfolios and practicing interview skills.

The cohorts also work on a capstone project. According to the Braven press release, the project is essentially a marketing campaign for actual companies, and the winning campaign will be used by the company. Last semester, the student cohorts worked with the Chicago Bulls.

Emily Beebe, a sophomore in middle level teaching and learning, is a current student in UNIV 301 and said the class is a positive experience and can help her sharpen her career skills and networking opportunities.

“I’m really excited about this course. I really feel like it will give me real skills and help me once I’m out in the real world,” Beebe said.

Beebe said that the course is very skill oriented and that overall she enjoyed the layout of the course. She hopes to make lasting relationships and take her professional skills to the next level by taking this course.