Creating Career Opportunities
Brittany Dunbar, ELMBA '13 (left); Fred Brennen, executive vice president at Sun Trust Bank; and Antoinette Cummins, ELMBA '13, pose for a photo at 2012 Business Leader of the Year
With the overall economy improving little by little, business students are feeling cautiously optimistic about improved job prospects upon graduation. While demand for graduates may be increasing, this does not mean that students will not find the job market to be competitive. Landing one of the coveted positions available is still going to take hard work and, in most cases, some assistance.
For this reason, Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management has been taking steps to expand the scope of career services for its undergraduate and graduate students alike. Through both a commitment to strengthening existing programs and hard work in creating new initiatives, the Sellinger School in partnership with Loyola’s Career Center have boosted the career support and networking available to students.
Beginning this fall, undergraduates at the Evergreen campus were greeted with a message announcing a new program to jumpstart their career activities, Career Navigator. Career Navigator is a rewards program designed to guide students from any undergraduate discipline in career development. The program involves a multi-faceted action plan that will help students meet their career goals while earning rewards for participation in career-related activities, networking events, speaker panels, and visits to The Career Center for enrichment.
“We’re really emphasizing that exploring your career interests can be fun and not just something you have to check off of a graduation requirement list or are required to do for course credit,” says Kelly Fader, executive assistant in the Sellinger dean’s office who has been leading the project. “Career Navigator is creating some friendly competition across the University and really inspiring students to take ownership of their career development.”
The new program has the full backing of the Sellinger business and advisory communities.
“It can be hard to get students to realize the value of networking,” says Thomas Graff, ’99, portfolio manager and partner at Brown Advisory and a member of the Sellinger Board of Sponsors. “It is the kind of thing where there are tremendous benefits in the long run, but perhaps no specific payoff to any given networking interaction. Career Navigator is a great way to bridge that gap. What we are saying to the students is ‘Don’t worry about whether a given interaction is going to produce any obvious benefit to you. Do it to earn points.’”
Students have been keen to recognize to both recognize the value of the program and have fun with it.
“I was excited to hear that Career Navigator was created during my junior year so that I could take full advantage of it when applying for internships and full time jobs.,” says Brendan McGann, ’15. “The prizes add a sense of competition and fun to participating in career related activities!”
McGann’s take was echoed by fellow student Michele Fischer, ’14.
"I think the Career Navigator will benefit me, and others, by giving us the incentive to better ourselves by using on campus resources knowing we can work towards rewards," says Fischer.
In addition to Career Navigator, the Sellinger dean’s office and The Career Center have opened the resources of both offices to provide students with momentum-building activities to encourage undergraduates to begin planning for their careers early and often. A series of “Welcome Week” events provided students opportunities to sign-up for the HireLOYOLA job portal, join campus business organizations, have professional LinkedIn portraits taken, and meet representatives from hiring accounting firms. Each event provides an opportunity for students to hone their networking skills.
“In the long run, students will learn that building a professional network is all about small interactions. Through these programs, Loyola is giving students a great head-start on something so vital to career success,” says Graff.
For graduate business students, the many different professions and mostly post-working hours necessitate a career services portfolio that is flexible and customizable to the individual.
“Graduate students come from various backgrounds and levels of experience and pursue graduate school for unique reasons,” says Catherine Aldecoa, assistant director at The Career Center. “Because of this, it is important for them to have access to services that can be tailored to their specific needs and goals.”
Alumni speaker panels and increased hours, visibility, and greater opportunities for development workshops at the graduate centers have created a more robust suite of career options for graduate students. Greater emphasis has also been placed on building alumni and networking relationships, and in developing recruiting models based off the characteristics employers are looking. This has opened up more doors to connect students directly with employers.
“We provide one-on-one career consultations, in order to meet the students where they are, and assist them in getting connected with the employers and alumni contacts that are in their fields of interest,” says Aldecoa.
The Career Center, in collaboration with various departments, offices and student organizations across campus, continues to offer a range of career-related events, workshops and programs that students can engage in to help them prepare for and be proactive in their career planning. Throughout the semester, students can take advantage of the networking with employers and Loyola alumni as The Career Center brings a range of companies and industry representatives to campus to speak with students about their organizations, hiring opportunities and provide an inside look into their industries. In addition to these corporate and industry presentations, The Career Center is sponsoring its inaugural Fall Career Fair which will provide undergraduate and graduate students the chance to learn about different full-time and part-time job and internship positions with employers from a variety of industries.