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Who You Spend Time With is Who You Become

03.7.2014

Career office develops outstanding students by surrounding them with students who stand out

Cups of coffee pass through the line at Starbucks as iPhones are checked and laptops are plugged into countertop power outlets. Energy is everywhere. What looks like the scene of an international airport is actually the concourse of the Slane Student Center.

This early morning buzz is the perfect environment for senior Matt Jakubowski to set up the HPU Career Bar. It takes no time at all for passing students to stop and inquire about the Career Bar and its purpose. The answer is simple: Jakubowski, an achieving senior who already has one job offer on the table, is a member of the Career Peer Ambassadors (CPAs) — a group of students who help other students prepare for life after graduation.

One student sits down beside Jakubowski and asks for help polishing his LinkedIn profile. It’s the kind of interaction that the Office of Career and Internship Services had in mind when they launched the program — connecting successful upperclassmen with peers who can benefit from their advice.

Career Bar 1“Younger students appreciate advice from upperclassmen and take it seriously,” says Bridget Holcombe, director of the Office of Career and Internship Services. “The CPAs can reach their peers in a way that we sometimes can’t and have enhanced the connectivity between our office and students.”

“It’s rewarding to help a fellow student the same way others helped me,” adds Jakubowski, who interned at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage and risk management firms, and was offered a full-time job at the company after he graduates in May. “Each student I’ve helped has said the time we’ve spent developing resumes or figuring out how to further their job search has been beneficial.”

Holcombe’s office has a knack for engaging students in creative ways. The four-year plan they’ve devised connects her office with students from the moment they arrive on campus until the moment they depart to enter graduate school, the professional world or to start their own venture.

Employers looking for top candidates visit campus often, and partnerships with major companies are fostered by other members of the office like Susan Brien, associate director of employer relations. Brien is expanding both local employer relations and those in the Northeast, where she worked for more than a decade.

“Many companies select schools as ‘feeders’ to send them interns or job candidates after graduation, and we are working to become that school for as many companies as possible,” says Brien.

A job exposition held on campus in the fall brought dozens of employers face to face with students to discuss openings and opportunities with their companies.

“We’re here because this is a prestigious university, and we have a sturdy relationship with HPU,” says BB&T’s Charlie Rogers. “The students are well prepared, intelligent and overall great candidates.”

Other companies who have recruited HPU students include Lenovo, Merrill Lynch, Key Bank and Ernst and Young, among so many more.

It’s all part of the master plan that the Career Bar embodies — making professional development opportunities visible and easily accessible on campus.

“We care about our students and their future,” says Holcombe. “Identifying their strengths and presenting them with an abundance of opportunities are always our focus.”

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