Orr Fellowship provides Ball State students with secure start to life after college

<p>Alex Oleson, 2021 Orr Fellow for Woven, an Indianapolis based tech startup, talks with children participating in Launchpad to learn entrepreneurial skills. The Orr Fellowship matches students around the nation with Indianapolis-based companies for two-year fellowships. <strong>Erin Kelley, Photo Provided</strong></p>

Alex Oleson, 2021 Orr Fellow for Woven, an Indianapolis based tech startup, talks with children participating in Launchpad to learn entrepreneurial skills. The Orr Fellowship matches students around the nation with Indianapolis-based companies for two-year fellowships. Erin Kelley, Photo Provided

Access to the internet has made it easier for students to find job and internship postings, but busy school schedules can make it difficult to find time to sit down and fill out applications. While internships, job shadowing and fellowships are a few ways students try to reduce job-related stress, the Orr Fellowship gives college seniors a chance to make a two-year commitment to an Indianapolis-based company.

Hunter Beale, Ball State senior entrepreneurship and innovation major, first discovered the Orr Fellowship program in a venture financing class when a representative from the Fellowship spoke about it to students.

“[The fellowship] is meant for entrepreneurs to really get [them] started,” Beale said. “It’s basically going to fast forward your life, and you’re going to gain a lot of experience.” 

After hearing about the fellowship in class, Beale went to the Cardinal Career Fair and gave representatives from the fellowship his resume. Giving them his resume in person, as opposed to online, Beale said, allowed him to “stand out.”

More than 1,200 seniors from different Midwest colleges applied to the Orr Fellowship in fall  2021. From the pool, 126 were selected to interview with 59 Indianapolis-area companies, and 100 of them were offered job opportunities. 

“The application process was honestly the longest one that I’ve experienced, but it was well worth the time I invested,” Beale said. “The beginning process was kind of like introducing, then you submit your application and then there were multiple cutting phases.”

The interview process was conducted virtually due to COVID-19 concerns, so all interviews were either done via phone or Zoom. Once applicants met all of the qualifications, they interviewed with three or four companies.

Beale was hired at Indiana Autocare, a company that manages Jiffy Lube gas station franchises across Indiana. He was given the opportunity to create the title for his position: manager of business strategy.

“It was such a unique opportunity to be with [the] Orr Fellowship and then an even more unique opportunity to be with this company,” Beale said. “They were like, ‘We aren’t filling your position — we’re making a position for you.’”

A venture capital workshop teaches Orr Fellows entrepreneurial skills in 2022. The Orr Fellowships offer hands-on experience with Indianapolis-based companies, but also present workshops and professional certification opportunities. Armando Sanchez, Photo Provided

Ball State senior math major Luke Avila was introduced to the Orr Fellowship by his dad, Steve Avila. 

“I thought it’d be a great opportunity for me to kind of see what it was about,” Avila said. “Then, obviously, the application process kind of determined that I think it would be very beneficial for me to follow through on their steps.” 

Avila said the application process was dependent on the applicant’s ability to follow through with application expectations and phone calls.

“They gradually narrowed down the pool in a kind of way where you either eliminate yourself by not following through on their steps or, obviously, if you continue to do that, it shows that you’re committed,” Avila said. 

After Avila completed all the necessary steps, such as Zoom meetings and phone calls, he was invited to the Orr Fellowship’s Finalist Day. Before Finalist Day, applicants had to send their resumes to the 59 companies involved in the recruiting process. 

“Four to five companies that rank you the highest, they interview you,” Avila said. “I had four interviews from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.” 

Avila interviewed with Resultant, CSpring, eimagine and MakeMyMove. He was hired at MakeMyMove, a Indianapolis-based company that offers incentives for remote workers to move to Indiana. 

Although the Orr Fellowship provides seniors with an easy way to find a job, it’s up to the students themselves to find housing near the Indiana-based company where they are hired. Avila will be living in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood located north of downtown Indianapolis.

“[I’m looking forward to] obviously, for the first time in my life, living on my own outside of Muncie,” Avila said, “[and] learning what my strengths and weaknesses are as I work and continue on to my career and see where I want to go from this initial start.”

Jordyn Blythe, senior communication studies and political science major, first heard of the Orr Fellowship at the Cardinal Career Fair. Blythe was interested in taking a gap year after graduating, and she knew the Orr Fellowship would provide her with “the time and freedom to explore.”

“The process was a lot,” Blythe said via email. “The initial submission was basic demographic information and a resume, followed by a virtual interview.” 

Because the application process was completely virtual, Blythe wasn’t given the opportunity to meet the other applicants face-to-face. 

“​​I hope I can make some genuine connections with my coworkers and other Orr Fellows,” Blythe said. “I think the program does a fantastic job of bringing us together, developing us professionally and making sure we develop socially as well.”

Blythe interviewed with five companies over the course of a day and was hired at ADVISA, a business management consultant company in Carmel, Indiana. 

“I’m really looking forward to gaining some workplace experience and having the opportunity to grow and develop as a young professional before continuing my education,” Blythe said. “I think it will be a fantastic opportunity to learn while also giving me a variety of skills and knowledge to apply to my future learning.” 

Contact Mackenzie Rupp with comments at msrupp@bsu.edu or on Twitter @kenzieer18.


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