Professionals prepare pre-professionals
Career Expo Prep Night gives students tools for meeting potential employers. | Jessica Goddard / THE CHIMES
When students reach a certain point in their academic career, they begin to wonder what in the world they will do with their lives. For most, facing the end of their school years produces anxiety. The Career Center aims to ease students’ job-search stress by hosting a yearly career exposition. The only issue: interacting with potential employers can make students nervous.
Career Development hosted its first ever Career Expo Prep Night event on Monday, Feb. 12, to give students confidence when interacting with professionals and to prepare them for the 2018 Spring Career Expo on Feb. 14.
“I love that we had diversity in the speakers and topics,” said Jasmyn Alvarez, career specialist for business professions. “[These] are skills everyone needs to know how to do. The expo is a perfect place to start, but an expo is not meant to be like the only place. It’s just meant to be a launching pad. So I think the speakers really helped to prepare students even beyond one event really.”
The prep night featured three professionals: Snapchat operations specialist Jonathan Javier, Saatchi & Saatchi talent acquisition manager Chip Peck and Sincerely Shai image consultant Shai Sims. They each introduced themselves and spoke a little about what they find important. Then the meeting split into breakout sessions, where each professional talked to small groups of students.
“I didn’t really know what to expect coming to [the event], so talking to Chip and going over how to talk to employers… was really interesting,” said Kenny Wang Jr., sophomore business major.
Before the breakout sessions, Sims spoke first, emphasizing the importance of image in a work environment. She described image as the physical representation of a person’s essence. If people present themselves well, they build trust and make good first impressions.
“They have the competency but they just get overlooked, and a lot of times, it’s not that they lack the job skills, it’s the fact that their appearance doesn’t really match their expertise level, their expert level in their jobs,” Sims said. “When you dress to kind of match your level of competency, that kind of gives people trust in you that you know what you’re talking about.”
Javier presented next, speaking about connecting with employers and maintaining a constant presence on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Then Peck spoke about building and keeping relationships in the professional world and using one’s experiences to describe certain skill sets.
“Finding those relationships, building those relationships and maintaining those relationships is incredibly important,” Peck said. “I think it’s probably one of the most important things you can do because it’s such a competitive market… that you increase your odds of opening up and finding that dream career by making those connections.”
Students enjoyed the privilege of hearing from the speakers and found the event helpful overall. With tools regarding image, online presence and business relationships, students could then attend the Career Expo prepared and with confidence.
“It was nice to be able to sit in front of somebody rather than reading an article online,” said Kyle Nunes, junior business major. “Being able to be personal and talk to them after and ask questions is really helpful so you can actually hear personally from their experience and follow up with them too.”
Alvarez planned the prep night along with other members of the Career Center. The event, complete with sweets and beverages, targeted upperclassmen looking more seriously at the job market.
This year, Career Development has hosted a series of preparation events, such as the week-long resume review time in the Caf Banquet Room and an elevator pitch contest in which the winner won $200 to Nordstrom for professional clothing purchases.
“Ultimately our hope and our goal is that students feel confident that they can go out and speak to employers and make connections, whether that’s at a career expo or whether that’s them personally reaching out to a contact or an [alum],” Alvarez said. “Our ultimate hope is that students will feel equipped and feel like they have the tools and then it’s up to them to run with that toolbox.”
Career Development wants to prepare students to enter the workforce with gumption and surety. Events such as the Career Expo Prep, resume review time and elevator pitch contest all play a role in smoothly launching Biola graduates into the workforce.