University Career Center’s Michelle Wann wins statewide innovation award

Michelle Wann, job location and development program coordinator for the University Career Center, is this year’s recipient of the North Carolina Association of Colleges and Employers annual Innovation Award.

The honor recognizes contributions toward the implementation of a unique and creative approach to student programming, employer/university relations, recruiting or training. Wann, who has been with the University Career Center for 13 years, was recognized for the Niner Career Challenge, which she spearheaded as a way to engage students in the Career Center’s services, key resources and events by gamifying activities to earn points.

Eligible activities include attending career meet ups, career fairs, employer partner sessions and programs by campus partners including the Center for Graduate Life and Learning and admissions.

Wann worked with OneIT’s head of software development Curtis Kularski and graduate student Chris Crews to develop technology to track student engagement in real time for Career Center activities. Data reporting allowed for monthly awards and drawings for incentives like gift cards, with the largest prize being tuition for spring semester.

Patrick Madsen, associate dean for advising and experiential learning, nominated Wann. He stated, “Michelle cares deeply about connecting students with opportunities to engage with employers and learn about careers.”

More than 1,000 students participated in the Niner Career Challenge pilot in 2021. In the second year of the challenge, the Career Center recorded a 100% increase with 2,000 student participants and three employers (Flexcare Medical Staffing, Novant Health and Tata Consulting Service) sponsoring free spring tuition for three winners, rather than one.

The Niner Career Challenge will return this fall for a third year.

Photo: Innovation Award winner Michelle Wann, center, surrounded by University Career Center staff and graduate assistants.