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How Make Helps Students Get Ready for the Real World

Aug 01, 2023

Did you ever hear recent graduates complain about how college hasn’t really prepared them for the “real world”? 

This is a common situation that thousands of students experience after spending significant amounts of time and resources on an education that doesn’t instantly produce a dream job - or even one related to their field of study.

Educational institutions are well aware of this problem, and some universities are already trying to bridge the gap between the classroom and the job market by means of capstone projects. 

How does this work? For example, instead of writing a Master's thesis, students can participate in a capstone project designed and directed in collaboration with the university’s business partners. 

Capstone projects represent a hands-on approach to a problem that negatively impacts students, and both Make and Celonis support it as a method to empower students with practical skills that are in demand in the current world of modern technologies.

Moreover, a recent experience with students from the University of Illinois shows the potential of capstone projects when it comes to getting a relevant job after graduating college.

Pioneering progress: A look into capstone projects in automation by the University of Illinois

This spring, students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign participated in a joint capstone project in process mining and automation led by Celonis and Make Academic Alliances. 

In the process-mining part of the project, the students focused on analyzing business processes based on real (and quite large) datasets. In the practical part, they used the same datasets to optimize and automate workflows within the company. 

The students worked with a Prepaid Travel Expense dataset, and their automation task consisted of two parts. 

First, they had to build a scenario to simulate CRM notifications, as the learning environment consisted only of free applications that all the students have access to. 

In the second step, they had to optimize the notification process and related activities from the perspective of an employee and/or a people manager.

As you can see, these tasks are the same kind of tasks they’ll encounter in an “real world” work environment the minute they step out of college.

Deploying innovation: Program details and results

The students worked in small groups on their project for one month. 

At the beginning of the program, the students were introduced to Make, its user interface, and key functionalities in a 60-minute session. Two weeks later, they could get answers to their questions in a brief follow-up session.

At the end of the month, each group presented their solution to the rest of the participants and Make and Celonis Academic Alliance managers.  

All teams presented a ready-to-use automated workflow that included the following: 

  • The distinction between purely informational notifications and notifications requiring further action (such as missing documents, rejected submissions, etc.).

  • Management of the received messages inside the mailbox (sending notifications to managers or forwarding messages to a chat service that the user uses regularly),

  • Attribution of time slots in the user's calendar for the required actions. 

On top of landing solutions that work in a real-world environment, we witnessed great creativity, as each group presented a different solution to address the same problem. 

The students also presented their ideas on how to improve the workflow in the context of a whole business process and explained situations and roles within the company that would benefit from such Make-powered solutions.

Key takeaways and testimonials from students

After the program concluded, some of the participant students shared their experiences with us (responses are anonymized for privacy reasons). 

  • “Through this project, I learned a lot about how to make a simple automation system which is really helpful for small-sized business to automate their business processes and save more labor costs. I also learned a lot on how to interact with different clients and how to solve problems based on their needs, and most important thing: Teamwork, which is an essential skill I definitely will use all the time in my later work.”

  • “This project was a valuable experience for me, as it helped me develop a range of skills that are highly relevant in the field of automation and data analytics. Specifically, the training portion of the project provided me with a foundational understanding of automation, including the various tools and techniques used in automation. I learned about the role that automation plays in enhancing business processes and improving overall efficiency.”

  • “Learning about automation was interesting as I am interested in going into consulting in the future, and I believe a lot of companies and organizations are looking to automate a lot of their routine processes to save on time and labor. Other benefits can also include more quality work from less human error and more organized workflows. I believe this will contribute to the diversity of skills I will be able to show on my resume or LinkedIn and apply in my career in the future.”

Real experiences with real tools that are empowering thousands of people and companies in the real world - that, perhaps, is what graduates need to transition into successful careers right off the bat. 

If you’re interested in bringing these kinds of initiatives to your institutions, fill out this form and hold tight - we’ll be in touch soon!

Jana Breska

Jana Breska

Academic Alliances Manager at Make who feel home in the tech industry as well as in front of the classroom in academia. In my free time, I share my biggest passions with my students as a dance and scuba diving instructor.

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