This story is featured in the Fall 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how the Career and Professional Development office at High Point University equips students for post-grad success.
Jake Jackson needed help.
Like any college student, he wanted to land his dream job. But he didn’t know how to take the first step.
Then he heard Bridget Holcombe speak during one of his business classes at High Point University. She told them about the resources available in Career and Professional Development — the office she directs at HPU.
Bingo. This is how I’ll get my job, Jackson thought.
Career advisors at HPU see students like Jackson every day across campus and in Cottrell Hall, home of the Flanagan Center for Student Success. The facility’s glass walls house numerous experiential learning programs that help students make their dreams a reality. Career and Professional Development is one of them.
Whether they need help making that initial connection with an employer, dressing for an interview, or wording an acceptance letter, career advisors are there to help students prepare for the world as it’s going to be.
All about the Outcomes
From the moment students step foot on campus, career advisors partner with faculty to weave career preparation into their academic curriculum. Students take a career self-assessment, complete a LinkedIn profile, conduct mock interviews and more. For many, it’s all part of their coursework. These career-centric class sessions often act as a launch pad for students to seek further one-on-one advising.
That’s what Jackson, a business administration major, did. He met with HPU career advisor Eric Melniczek.
Their first plan of action? Develop a resume that stood out from the crowd.
Melniczek guided Jackson through the process, sharing a treasure trove of tips he’s gleaned through more than 17 years of career management and recruiting experience.
Here’s one: Put your most important information near the upper left corner.
“If the position you’re applying to requires a unique skillset or experience that you have, move that information to the top of your resume to highlight your strengths,” says career advisor Doug Hall. “Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ resume approach when you’re applying to multiple jobs. Instead, move information around on your resume to reflect the nature of the desired position.”
Jackson continued to meet with the career team in the following months, getting help with every step of the process: discovering his passion for the furniture industry, perfecting his LinkedIn profile, connecting with HPU alumni at companies Jackson was interested in, securing an internship, conducting mock interviews, and negotiating a salary when he received a full-time job offer before graduating in May.
Jackson got the job he always wanted. Today, he’s the operations manager for Leather Creations Furniture in Atlanta.
“Eric helped me create my LinkedIn page and transformed my resume from a sub-par piece of paper to a meaningful document that I felt confident handing out to employers,” Jackson says. “Much of where I am now is because of Eric and the career team.”
The Changing World of Recruiting
Companies are using LinkedIn to post jobs and scope out candidates now more than ever. That’s why Holcombe tells students when employers research their name on the internet, their LinkedIn profile should be the first thing employers see.
“We saw this trend coming as a force to be reckoned with,” Holcombe says. “Many employers Google a candidate even before looking at their resume, so your LinkedIn profile should be complete and a reflection of your professional value. We also have students create a custom LinkedIn URL to add to their email signatures, business cards and resumes.”
There’s also a rise in digital interviews via phone, Skype and even pre-recorded videos.
That’s where HPU’s Interview Stream comes in. It’s an online platform that lets students video themselves answering standard interview questions.
Students then review their recordings and work with the career office to perfect their answers, tone, body language and more.
“We educate students on what recruiting looks like in today’s world,” says career advisor Elizabeth Walker. “We are also focused on how this generation of students learn. They’re tech savvy. We show them how to use that to their advantage.”
A Network of Support
At every turn, HPU is there to help.
Programs like Peer Career Advisors (PCAs) connect successful students who’ve already completed impressive internships or jobs with underclassmen striving to accomplish the same.
Senior Haley McKeown is a seasoned PCA. When students come to the Career Bar in Cottrell Hall, McKeown is there with a smiling face and an eagerness to see her peers succeed. She and other PCAs help students with their resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles.
Then, HPU invites companies to the biannual Career & Internship Expo on campus. A new career fair app lets students bookmark employers, research recruiters and easily navigate the event.
Students who attend these expos talk with top employers. They leave with interviews with companies like BB&T, Lenovo, Bassett Furniture and Volvo. And they land internships and job offers because of it.
Even after students graduate, their HPU support system goes with them. HPU’s Office of Alumni Engagement opens doors for networking and job opportunities, plans social and networking events for alumni, and keeps graduates connected with their alma mater even if they’re halfway around the world.
Connections for Life
From freshman year and beyond, the entire university is committed to helping students become who they want to be.
That’s why Career and Professional Development exists. It’s about equipping students with the practical knowledge and insider nuances to excel in life after college.
“If I could tell students one thing, it would be to use our office ‘early and often,’” Melniczek says. “Students who do so usually have a higher level of self-confidence, a higher level of career maturity, complete more internships and more. We help them find that extra ‘oomph’ from within, and it makes a world of a difference.”
View this story and more in the Fall 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine: