This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development goes above and beyond in preparing students for their careers.
HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development helps students channel their talents into incredible career paths.
A month before his HPU graduation, Rami Aoun left a meeting with Dr. Doug Hall, assistant director of HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development.
“Try not to miss me too much!” Aoun said in the lobby of the suite, loud enough for each career advisor to hear. “I hate to leave you all for even a few seconds.”
It’s an ongoing joke between Aoun and the career team — a result of his twice-per-week visits to the office.
As a senior majoring in business administration from Raleigh, North Carolina, Aoun had clear career goals and set his sights on Dell. He’d seen other HPU graduates go on to work for the innovative company and was determined he’d be next.
He worked with Hall on compiling a list of 30 potential jobs that the two kept in a spreadsheet. Accompanying each potential career path was a list of contacts and information he would need to impress potential employers during interviews.
Through HPU’s strong alumni network, Hall found an opening at Dell for Aoun.
The next step: an interview. Hall knew the skills needed to execute an impactful interview, and the pair set to work, practicing Aoun’s personal pitch.
When he got the job offer, Hall was the first person to find out.
“I’m so proud of you,” Hall told Aoun. “Now sit down and talk me through the questions they asked. I want to take notes and get the next student ready.”
Ask Aoun how he got the offer, and he’ll grin and point to Hall. “It was all this guy,” he’ll say.
But Hall knows it was a team effort. Ambition and determination carry students to their destination. For those in need of a guide or industry connection, Hall and HPU’s career advisors are there to pave a path.
“I showed him the way,” Hall says, “but he ran with it.”
And while Aoun’s story is unique, it’s common on HPU’s campus. In fact, 97% of HPU graduates are employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation.
The people supporting that impressive outcome can be found inside HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development.
Survey Says: Executives Want Life Skills
Mentorship is a cornerstone of HPU’s campus, and it’s demonstrated daily inside HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development.
Whether students arrive at HPU with undirected passions or specific career aspirations, career advisors are there to point the way.
They do this by staying ahead of national trends and keeping a pulse on what employers are looking for.
In December 2018, HPU conducted a survey of 500 C-Level executives who represent organizations with 5,000 to 25,000 employees to determine the qualities they most desire in new hires.
The results? Life skills, such as motivation, emotional intelligence and the ability to solve problems, were more important to their organizations than technical skills, such as training on a specific software or subject.
Dr. Bill Gentry, director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, understands that to differentiate themselves in the hiring process, HPU students must know how to articulate their value to a company.
In response, his team has collaborated with departments across campus to make sure students are equipped with the experience they need.
Niche career fairs, small career fairs that target specific populations and majors, are one example. They set the stage for networking opportunities and allow students to practice presenting themselves in a professional manner.
Advisors also assist students in landing internship and job shadowing opportunities by engaging parents, alumni and friends of the university through the Career Connectors Program.
And successful upperclassmen serve as Peer Career Advisors, helping students with resume reviews, LinkedIn profiles and tips for finding internships during office drop-in hours. More than 500 students were served by Peer Career Advisors last year alone.
Finding Your Fit at the NFL
Students like Mackenzie Bliss benefit from HPU’s robust professional development programing. She recognized it when she achieved her longtime goal of working for her dream company: the NFL.
Bliss didn’t always know that a job in the NFL could be the way to pursue her passion in human relations and sport management.
Then entered career advisor Kellie McLeod.
“Sophomore year, I came to the realization that I wasn’t happy with the path I was taking,” says Bliss. “Kellie encouraged me to follow my interests because, at the end of the day, hard work and determination would allow me to be successful in any field for which I’m passionate.”
Bliss met frequently with McLeod in the years that followed, revising her resume and preparing for the application process. Soon, the NFL became a realistic ambition.
Weeks ahead of her May graduation, Bliss got the job offer. Today, she’s a human resources associate with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
“HPU will provide you the resources you need to network, to put your foot in the door and to try something new that may make you feel uncomfortable at first,” says Bliss. “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do, and you will be thankful for the people you meet and the opportunities that come your way.”
Like all programming developed by the Office of Career and Professional Development, “Fast Fridays” are designed to enhance students’ career readiness.
Each Friday throughout the semester, workshops that focus on resume building, polishing LinkedIn profiles, cover letter writing, how to network, transitioning from college to a full-time career, budgeting 101, graduate school panels, and much more are held as an opportunity for students to learn and grow in a group setting.
A Glimpse at Class of 2019 Outcomes
Since graduating in May, the Class of 2019 has commenced many prestigious career and graduate school paths. While their success is too expansive to list here, below is a sampling of where these graduates are now. Visit www.highpoint.edu/outcomes for more of their stories.