For every college student, whether undergraduate or graduate, the years spent at university are meant to help you grow as an individual, acquire knowledge and attain experience to reach the ultimate goal: employment. There are many majors, minors and concentrations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. With each field of study, comes different employment options, career paths and a need for experience.
Experience can come from things like internships, community service, leadership positions on campus and part-time or full-time jobs. Depending on what you’re working towards, finding opportunities for experience, learning practical skills and honing the ones essential for a job or career may be challenging; the road to employment can be a bumpy one if you don’t know where to look.
Luckily, UNCG offers many resources to help its students succeed in reaching the coveted goal of employment. One huge resource is located on the bottom floor of the Elliott University Center, and it’s known as the Career Services Center.
The CSC offers countless means of support for Spartans looking toward their future. Career Coaches and Peer Career Ambassadors at the CSC can help students build their resumes, explore majors and careers, find internships and jobs, build networks, prepare for graduate school, practice for interviews and become the best person they can be, using every source available to create the smoothest road to their future. One of those sources includes career fairs.
Each semester, the CSC hosts events for students to talk to employers interested in hiring Spartans. On Wednesday, the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness held the 2017 Fall Career Fair from 1 to 5 p.m. Over 90 organizations attended the fair to find dedicated students to volunteer, intern or work part-time or full-time positions. Many of the organizations offered these positions to students of any major.
After RSVPing through SpartanCareers, students came to the Kaplan Center professionally dressed and ready to talk. Each student was given a bag to hold information given to them by employers, a map describing what organization would be at each table and a name tag with their first name in bold, their last name and their major(s).
Armed with confidence and a colored folder holding copies of their resume, students moseyed through the multi-activity court to scout out potential employers. Not every student who attended came to find a job or internship. Some came to get the free LinkedIn headshot, gain some practice talking to employers or get their names and resumes out there for job opportunities in the future. No matter the reason for attending, no student left the fair empty handed.
One student, anthropology and sociology major Candace Strickland, came for the intended purpose. “I’m looking for an internship for the spring semester,” Strickland said. Like many college students, Strickland wanted “more experience to add on to my applications and resume” and “more research experience for graduate schools.”
What does it take for employers to consider a student for a position? For most organizations, it depends on having experience, skillsets and personality; each organization is different, depending on what they do and the positions they offer. They want different types of people for different positions. One organization, Waffle House, inc., offered management positions for Alumni or recent graduates of UNCG. According to Melissa Clark Kallam, an Area People Director of North Carolina for Waffle House, the person matters more than the resume.
“In an employee, we are looking for great personality; someone who has drive and initiative. As far as traits, multitasking, organization, if they have personality, love to work with people and just stand out,” said Kallam.
For one of the four organizations offering on-campus interviews, such as the Target Corporation, leadership was an important factor in a potential employee. Alison Grant, a General Manager at a Target in the Triad area, said she was looking for “anyone who has a passion for retail sales and a passion for people,” but “the biggest things we’re looking for are leadership and people skills.”
For some students, presenting themselves and their skillsets to employers can be difficult when put on the spot. Students who were new to the career fair environment, weren’t sure how to present themselves to employers or needed advice were able to visit the Career Coaching Zone, where Career Coaches were there to answer questions and offer support to attendees.
To make a good impression, Megan Walters, Associate Director and Career Coach at the CSC, recommended students “lead with confidence and those things that they’re really great at” and “to have a clue about the companies before they talk to them.”
When it comes to interviews, Walters suggested, “Practice some commonly asked questions. You want to think about experiences that you’ve had that have given you a skill set so that you can talk about that time you were a leader, or that time you were in a group with difficult people and how you managed that. All of those things have happened to students here, either in the classroom or in their leadership experiences. So, they have what they need to land a really great job, it’s just practicing it. We offer that opportunity to practice in our office. We have the support to do that.”
Need help finding and getting on the right career path for you? Visit the Career Services Center in the EUC.