This story is featured in the Spring 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below why employers across the nation find value in hiring HPU graduates.
Growing the Go-Getter
On any given day, except Sundays, people line up for a chicken sandwich at the nation’s number one fast-food restaurant: Chick-fil-A. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A’s corporate office is lining up to recruit HPU students.
Lexie Williams found out about an internship with Chick-fil-A from a fellow student and was prepared to apply thanks to her time at HPU.
“I got connected thanks to a student who had interned there before me,” said Williams. “I had searched out internships for months, and when I saw it, I knew it was the experience I wanted.”
Williams’ first week at the company included an orientation tour through Atlanta, Georgia, led by Chick-fil-A’s President and CEO, Dan Cathy. While the city’s attractions caught Williams’ eye, she caught the attention of someone else.
“Dan Cathy called me over, smiled and said ‘Lexie, will you tell Dr. Nido Qubein that I said hello?”’ said Williams. “I realized that he knew my name, knew where I went to school and didn’t hesitate to reach out. I was in awe.”
It was then that Williams realized the impact of being an HPU student.
And while her decision to attend HPU drew instant attention to Williams, that was just the beginning. Giving credit to HPU’s focus on career preparation, Williams went on to become a standout employee during her internship.
Kelli Easley, a member of the talent acquisition team at Chick-fil-A, was one of Williams’ supervisors.
“Lexie stood out from others first during the interview process,” said Easley. “During her internship, it was clear that Lexie was a culture add. She came in and began to form relationships with ease. She was proactive, anticipated the needs of others and added value quickly.”
As Williams concluded her internship and returned to school in the fall, she had one final assignment from Chick-fil-A: work with the company to establish a recruiting relationship.
“Based on our experience with Lexie, the students that attend HPU exert a level of professionalism that’s above average when compared to other universities we’ve visited,” said Shayna Lewis of Chick-fil-A’s university talent acquisition team. “We want to find the best students out there, the brightest, the gems.”
Now, they will be one of the many companies that looks to HPU for talent acquisition – a common occurrence thanks to the Career and Professional Development team at HPU.
Career preparation is woven into every HPU student’s academic curriculum from the first moment they arrive to campus. Students complete LinkedIn profiles, take part in mock interviews, and partner with career advisors and faculty to create career-centric plans, plus more.
As a result, 95 percent of HPU students are employed or find graduate school placement six months after graduation. And, for some, the first job comes even sooner.
Caroline Tucker entered her senior year career-focused and ready to job hunt. Little did she know, a company was already hunting for her.
“Amazon reached out to me through LinkedIn to start,” said Tucker. “They reached out in early fall and told me to apply, saying that I was a good fit based on my profile.”
One month and an interview later, Tucker was offered a full-time position with the world’s largest online retailer.
She says that it’s all because of the guidance she received at HPU.
“I spent endless hours on my resume, taking it to Career and Professional Development for feedback,” says Tucker. “Then I used that resume on my LinkedIn profile, and in retrospect, that’s what got things started.”
And, although career and professional development has its own department at HPU, preparation for life after graduation is a concept that permeates through every division of the university.
Tucker not only attended resume builder workshops and HPU career fairs, but took classes that required a professional LinkedIn profile.
“A lot of my professors required us to have a LinkedIn that was polished,” said the international business major. “While it seemed like added work at the time, I can now thank them for helping me land a job with Amazon.”
Similarly, HPU provides major-specific career fairs as an addition to the university-wide biennial career and internship fair.
Professor George Noxon, chair of the department of accounting and finance, serves as an advocate to help students secure jobs after graduation. He is instrumental in arranging careers fairs, recruiting efforts and professional networking opportunities, all while making extensive efforts to train and prepare his students.
His efforts have connected students with Big Four Accounting firms such as KPMG LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers, who are drawn to HPU students for numerous reasons.
“KPMG is looking for people with integrity—good team members who can build effective relationships, learn from experience and bring out the best in others,” says Bob Slappey, audit partner at KPMG LLP. “High Point University recruits not only demonstrate these qualities, but also have the technical aptitude to meet the growing demands and expectations of the companies we serve.”
“Colleges don’t always prepare you for the real world, but at HPU they encourage and ready you from day one,” says Tucker. “They have your best interest at heart.”
From their freshman year and beyond, Career and Professional Development exists to equip students with the practical knowledge and insider nuances to excel in life after college, no matter who or where they want to be.
Many students choose to further their education through graduate school.
“We work with students throughout the graduate school application process, from helping students learn how to research programs to reviewing personal statements and C.V.s to conducting mock interviews,” says career advisor Elizabeth Illig.
Of those continuing their education, 93.2 percent are accepted into their first choice graduate school.
“Our goal is for students to tell their professional stories in a way that shows their commitment to graduate study,” says Illig. “By teaching students to provide the evidence that they have excelled in the past, have experience in the field, and have defined their career goals, we teach them to articulate their value to graduate programs.”
That’s why Career and Professional Development exists. It’s about equipping students with the tools they need to pursue success and significance for the rest of their lives.