This past week the Academic and Career Advising Office held its fourth annual Career Week, which offers students the necessary resources and opportunities to network themselves to future employers.
Academic and Career Advisor Aaron Rock said that the goal for Career Week is not only to help students be able to make the necessary connections and partnerships with companies and organizations, but also to be prepared to provide opportunities as juniors, sophomores and even first-year students.
“I think that career stuff is not the most exciting thing in the world to students. Sometimes it is kind of that second, third or fifth thought down the line. Our goal is to really get students thinking about it early and to get them thinking about it as often as they can. The more prepared you are as a sophomore or junior, the better off you’re search is going to be when you graduate from here. We want you to succeed; our office is here to help students succeed after college and during college. To us, that is our goal,” Rock said.
Rock said that Career Week is an opportunity for students, especially looking at the career fair that is held on the last day of Career Week. “This year we have 100 employers coming,” Rock said. “This is the most we have ever had and these employers want to hire students, they want to bring them in for internships or shadowing opportunities, and sometimes it is easy for students to forget about all the opportunities that are in this area.”
He continued, “A lot of our companies are more than just regional. They expand up and down the East Coast; some have outposts on the West Coast. So having students see these companies that they may have never thought about is really important.”
Rock said that Career Week is held every fall and spring semester. This year, Rock said there have been some changes to the event and the way it was promoted beforehand.
“This is the first year that we have had a keynote speaker who is an alumni come and talk to students about goals and what you need to think about as a student,” Rock said. “We have had similar events but this is the first time we have truly marketed. We have a communication student who is a senior and an intern here who has been working with us from our marketing perspective as well.”
Rock added that this year’s career week included the involvement of other on-campus departments to assist in the promotion of the events.
“It was something that we have discussed as a group of career advisors and Louise Ewing has taken the role of defining career week and making a lot of the movements for it,” Rock said. “It was just sort of a discussion of ‘are we meeting the needs of the students,’ and so we wanted to try to do a little bit more.”
This year’s Keynote Speaker was 2015 alumna Kalie Randlett. Randlett said that she was asked to be the Keynote Speaker this fall by one of the three career advisors, Beverly Behrmann, because she felt that it would be beneficial to the students to listen to a recent graduate talk about her experiences at Keene State and how they transferred over to her career.
Randlett said that she felt it would be easier for a senior or junior to relate to her rather than someone who has over ten years of experience.
“During my talk, I urged the students to ask for help. I spent a lot of time with the Department of Academic and Career Advising, the library and with my professors in order to prepare me for life after graduation and my job search. The main reason why faculty and staff join in a college community is because they find it rewarding to see a student rise to their highest potential. If you ask for help, then you will definitely be sent in the right direction,” Randlett said.
Last year, when Randlett was going through the job search herself, she said that she used resumania like crazy.
“I had my resume reviewed by two different alum,” Randlett said. “I also did a mock interview the morning before the career fair, which put me in career mode.”
She continued, “However, my experience was a little different because I was working for the ACA during the fair, so I only had a little bit at the end of the fair to walk around and speak with employers. What I have found from my job now is that the employers are at the fair because they want to hire you. We aren’t just going to the fair to get out of the office early, we actually have positions and we are interested in Keene State College students to fill them.”
Randlett added that, from her current position, she spends a lot of time recruiting from other colleges.
“A handful of colleges I work with do not hold career weeks of this sort. Many of them sent their students to one big fair in Manchester this year,” Randlett said. “I think that we are spoiled with the career staff that we have at KSC because they are so willing to help any and all students who are on the job search. They want KSC students to get jobs and they make it known. Use Career Week to your advantage and you will be headed in the right direction.”
KSC Senior Haylie Dolan weighed in on how beneficial she thought Career Week was to her job search.
Dolan said that the career fair was a good opportunity to gain experience talking with different professionals in various industries, and that it was convenient because it was on campus.
“I thought it was a great networking opportunity. I do not think I would have reached out to some of the companies on my own so it was good to be able to have the career fair to talk with different companies,” Dolan said.
As a management major, Dolan said that she saw tons of employers she wanted to interact with at the career fair. “I did some research before the career fair to find the companies I wanted to talk to and what they were looking for,” Dolan said. “There definitely were tons of companies looking for management, but I narrowed my search specifically to my own interests.”
Dolan said that the career fair definitely helped her gain experience talking with employers on a professional basis.
Dolan said that it is intimidating applying for jobs so the career fair was a helpful opportunity to be able to practice having professional kinds of conversations.
“The career fair helped me narrow down my interests in management because I was able to see the different companies and what they were interested in so I was able to focus more on specific aspects of the management industry,” Dolan said.
For graduating seniors like Dolan, Academic and Career Advisor Aaron Rock said that his best bit of advice is for seniors to cast their net wide.
“You can move anywhere for a couple years and that is something to think about when you are looking at careers. The wider your net, which also means you can reach big too, the better off you’re going to be in being able to do what you want to do,” Rock said.
Rock continued, “At the same time, think outside the box. Just because a student is a Communication major does not mean they have to be doing public relations. There are a lot of things you can do with a lot of different degrees and a lot of the time, it is the skills you’ve gained. Think big and think wide and get outside of your comfort zone a little bit.”
2015 alumna Katie Randlet added, “Graduation is not the end of the world. You are still going to see the friends that you went to school with. Leaving KSC does not mean that you are going to lose them. KSC will always be home. Work hard, but have fun and finally, take a breath. Everything will be OK.”
Brogan Wessell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org