March 5, 2012
Students, alumni benefit from Career Services, networking opportunities at Northwest
When Adam Watson’s supervisors at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre ask him each year whether it’s worthwhile to attend Northwest Missouri State University’s Career Day, Watson always advocates for it. After all, he knows firsthand the benefits of networking with students and employers at Career Day.
“We’ve had some great interns, and we keep coming back every year for that,” said Watson, who is the interactive marketing coordinator for Starlight, a job he acquired after a pair of successful internships there – which he acquired after a conversation with Starlight reps at Career Day. In his current role, Watson manages the company’s website, manages social media accounts and assists with online media buying.
Watson graduated from Northwest in 2009 with degrees in marketing and management and a minor in public relations.
“I did a lot of networking at Career Day; I ended up with an internship and several job offers from interviews I had here,” Watson said. “I ended up deciding to do an interview at Starlight, which I turned into a job. One of the biggest benefits was I was able to take some things I learned during my first internship and reapply it to the Student Activities Council on campus and then reapply some of the things I learned in the real world.”
With the spring trimester at Northwest winding down, many students are in the position Watson once was as a Northwest student. But Career Day, Mock Interview Day and other opportunities offered by Northwest Career Services are helping job seekers refine their skills and revise their resumes to land the job they want.
Northwest hosted its annual Career Day Feb. 28, providing potential candidates an opportunity to interact with nearly 100 employers offering full-time, summer and internship positions. Employers represented an array of industries including Boys Town, C.H. Robinson, Farmers Insurance Group, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Nodaway Broadcasting and PlattForm Advertising.
A couple weeks earlier, Career Services hosted its annual Mock Interview Day, which gives Northwest students in all majors an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills with real employers and receive immediate feedback on their resumes, interview responses and overall impressions. More than 40 employers participated in this year’s Mock Interview Day and more than 330 Northwest students interviewed – a record turnout for the event.
Stacey Stokes, career development coordinator for employee relations at Northwest, said events like Mock Interview Day and Career Day are important because they provide students with opportunities to network, talk face-to-face with employers and gain a better understanding of a company’s mission.
While students are pleased to have the experience and receive feedback from employers at Mock Interview Day, employers leave with positive impressions of Northwest students, too, Stokes said.
“Employers are very impressed with the caliber of students they interview,” Stokes said. “They’re very happy with their interview results, their dress code and they’re very pleased with the research students have done in regard to the employer.”
Free opportunities such as these have assisted Northwest in achieving a 93 percent placement rate. This means 93 percent of Northwest undergraduates are employed or continue their education within six months of graduation.
“I think it’s brilliant,” said Caroline Bowlin, a senior marketing and business management major from Liberty, after she attended the Mock Interview Day. “It’s great, and I hope more people go through it just because it’s vital to know how to interview. Northwest offers a lot of really good career-related services and it’s free, so why not?”
Said Victoria Hadel, a senior financial computing major from Raymore, after attending Career Day and learning about some career possibilities at Cerner and the Federal Reserve Bank: “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. A lot of my friends who go to different schools don’t have a Career Services program that is as dedicated as ours.”
In the meantime, Alyssa Bugbee is trying to get ahead of the game. As a sophomore animal science major from Bethany, she visited Career Day to network and secure a summer internship.
“You never know who you may meet or what connections you may make,” Bugbee said. “It really helps students to put ourselves out there and get that experience of just walking up and shaking someone’s hand, introducing yourself and telling them what you have to offer. It’s a great opportunity, even before you graduate to have those connections with different companies.”
Like Watson, Brooke Beason benefited from experiences and networking opportunities she had at Northwest, such as Mock Interview Day. Now, she’s on the other side of the table, interviewing potential job candidates as a digital insights analyst at VML in Kansas City.
“It’s interesting being on the opposite side of the table, but it’s fun to see the eagerness that students have,” said Beason, who completed her interactive digital media degree at Northwest in 2009. “I’m sure I shared the same eagerness, but it’s fun to share what I’ve learned as well because I can relate to where they are now and the experience I’ve obtained. I know what Northwest provided for me as far as an education and relevant experience in the advertising world, so it’s my turn to pay it back.”
Beason tells students that the more interviews in which they can participate, the more confident they will become. Company administrators and managers are seeking employers who possess soft skills – such as communication skills and a positive attitude – as well as relevant experience.
“I keep telling students, ‘Don’t be scared to brag about things you’ve been involved in,’” Beason said. “I think Northwest provides a lot of unique opportunities that students really should tout.”
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