Denison Launch Lab: A new generation of career-readiness programs

Denison Launch Lab

Denison University’s Launch Lab is a new, innovative space for career readiness that disrupts the traditional liberal arts education-to-career pipeline. An energetic hub located in the heart of downtown Columbus, the Lab is scheduled to open with its first program in January 2021.

Exceptional career-readiness prepares students during uncertain times

At a time when college graduates face economic uncertainty upon graduation and desire more career readiness support, Denison is helping students translate the knowledge of and passion for their fields of study into tangible workforce skills. The Launch Lab’s state-of-the-art career preparation, exploration, and launch programs will offer specialized boot camps and skill-building experiences during the academic year for Denison students as well as winter and summer programs that will be open to liberal arts college students in the Columbus region and around the country.

“Students have been demanding more in the way of career preparation support. Given the current economic environment, they are more concerned than ever about their future and are looking to their colleges and universities for career readiness support beyond what is traditionally offered,” said Denison University President Adam Weinberg. “Career launch has been a top priority for Denison for the last five years and the Launch Lab is just one more way we are meeting the evolving needs of our student population.”

A national hub, located in the fast-growing city in the Midwest — Columbus

As a national hub that brings together ed-tech firms, academics, entrepreneurs, and enterprises of all sorts, the Launch Lab continuously develops the next generation of career preparation, exploration, and launch programs. The Lab positions Denison University as a leader in the education-to-career space. And it orients the university to further contribute to the Columbus Metropolitan Region by expanding the talent pipeline for Columbus businesses, organizations, and start-ups. Partnerships with Columbus-based enterprises allow students to make immediate contributions through projects, internships, and eventual permanent positions.

The Launch Lab will be located at the corner of 4th and Chestnut in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It will be guided with input from an advisory board of top executives from the public and private sector, including Dr. Frederic Bertley, President and CEO of COSI; Ty Henkaline, Managing Director of Data and Insights, Singularity University; Francie Henry, Regional President, Fifth Third Private Bank; David Howitt, Founder and CEO, Meriwether Group; Laurie Kamerer, Vice President of Communications for Victoria’s Secret; and Abigail Pringle, President, International and Chief Development Officer, Wendy’s International; Jim Reynolds, Vice President, NIKE Marketplace Partners.

“We have and will continue to spend significant time with leaders from across industries and sectors to understand their talent needs, challenges, and opportunities so that we can continue to develop innovative programming that bridges the gap between higher education and career readiness,” said Knowlton Center Executive Director Hank Malin. “Our proximity to Columbus and our relationships with the vast network of businesses and civic organizations is a major part of the Denison difference. Setting the Launch Lab downtown even more directly connects students to the power of that network.”

A strategic plan for a lifetime of career success

“This bold thinking represents the solutions students want, employers need, and the higher ed sector, especially liberal arts colleges, should own.”

Launch Lab’s one-of-a-kind Journey program guides students through a process to design their individualized career roadmap. The roadmap helps students integrate the three dimensions of their higher education experience: academics, student life and career readiness. This Journey program and resulting roadmap enable students to be intentional about every aspect of their university experience, creating an outcome that is both successful and fulfilling as they launch their careers and lives.

The Launch Lab is part of Denison’s multi-year strategic plan that also includes expanding its offering of innovative academic programs and making college more affordable for more students. The university has added seven new academic majors and programs within the last five years, including global commerce; data analytics; financial economics; narrative journalism; politics and public affairs; health, exercise and sport studies; and global health. Denison is also one of the few colleges in the country that meets the full demonstrated financial aid need of every student it admits.

“At Denison we’re diversifying our degree options, student body, and the programs and services that bridge students from academic to career success. And we’re doing it in innovative ways that seek to ensure students launch not just into great careers, but into fulfilling lives. This bold thinking represents the solutions students want, employers need, and the higher ed sector, especially liberal arts colleges, should own,” commented President Weinberg.

The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation: An innovative partner in career preparation excellence The Launch Lab is an extension of Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration, the University’s innovative, award-winning on-campus career office and is funded by a grant from The Austin E. Knowlton Foundation. The Launch Lab and the Knowlton Center both bring innovation to the career space. The Knowlton Center will continue to be the primary career resource for Denison students, providing cutting-edge, on-campus programs that span students’ four-year college career. The Launch Lab will provide students with a secondary setting to explore their strengths, bridge their major to career options, and immerse themselves in workplace culture and skills building. The Launch Lab also provides space and support for Denison faculty who want to connect their students and coursework to resources, experiences, and opportunities in Columbus.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Denison’s innovative Launch Lab, which is at the intersection of so many of Dutch Knowlton’s interests”, said Eric Lindberg, Denison and Knowlton Foundation board member. “Columbus was Mr. Knowlton’s primary home for more than six decades after he attended college in the area in the late 1920s and he was an instrumental supporter of countless Columbus civic and economic development projects. Extending Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration with this physical work space in Columbus’s urban core — where Denison and other college students will develop high-value, real-world, and practical career and life skills while embedding them in the living city environment — is a terrific further gift from Mr. Knowlton to Central Ohio.”

August 13, 2020