Employers hire UNA graduates

Alana Parker 2004

UNA degree holders are not only sought after in the Shoals area, they also perform well in their careers, employers say.

Riverbend Center for Mental Health looks to UNA as a major source of applicants, said Marty Sims, director of human resources.

Riverbend’s internship program usually gets students interested in working for them, he said.

“We employ a lot of our staff once they complete the internship program,” Sims said. “UNA graduates perform well above average for our needs and purposes.”

In terms of bachelor’s degrees, Riverbend generally employs those with expertise in social work, sociology, counseling and other social science fields, he said. Masters degrees are usually in the social work and counseling fields.

“Now that UNA has partnered with (Alabama) A&M to provide social work masters degrees, we get a lot of those majors, too,” he said.

First Metro Bank in Florence also hires a large number of UNA students and graduates.

“Over 95 percent of First Metro Bank employees who have obtained a college degree are UNA graduates,” said LeAnn Long, human resources director.

First Metro Bank offers students positions that often turn into full-time employment once students graduate from UNA, she said.

“We have found that both UNA students and UNA graduates are high performing employees who embrace our mission and commitment of delivering valuable financial products and services to meet the needs of our customers,” she said.

UNA graduates were a major part of the bank’s success when it began almost three decades ago, and Long said she fully expects that trend to continue.

“We have personally experienced the positive results which occur when you take a local university like UNA (and) pair it with a local community bank like First Metro Bank — where both are committed to building a strong community,” she said.

Marty Abroms, president and managing shareholder of Abroms and Associates, P.C. and President Pro Tempore of the UNA board of trustees, said whenever they hire new professional accounting staff, they hire almost exclusively UNA graduates.

“My experience is that most UNA graduates perform at a high level,” Abroms said. “I know for a fact that a UNA accounting graduate that is motivated can certainly compete with, and have as much or more success than students from the so called Ivy League ranks or big universities.”

One way Abroms and Associates picks potential employees is by hiring UNA accounting students part-time to see if they can be punctual and professional while meeting deadlines, he said.

By this arrangement, the students can also see whether or not they truly enjoy the work, Abroms said.

“Many times if the UNA part-time associate wants to stay in the Shoals, the student knows he or she has a full-time job with benefits and a career path before even getting a diploma,” he said.

The classes at UNA prepare students well for life after graduation, said Deondrick Orr, a senior and entertainment and technology industry major.

“The classes I’ve taken have been very hands-on,” he said. “The concepts I have been taught are very easy to understand and comprehend so that I can use them after I graduate.”

Yogyata Batra, an MBA graduate student, said she sees why many employers in the area prefer to hire UNA grads.

“I think the close-knit community around UNA makes it easily approachable for employers to look for possible employees,” she said. “The students are also really prepared from their classes, so I think it’s an easy decision to hire UNA graduates.”

However, she said, job prospects for international students in the area don’t seem to come so easily.

“I haven’t spoken to any international students who have easily gotten a job in the area,” she said. “International students don’t seem to come by the same opportunities as easily.”