For UAA students looking toward spring graduation, the importance of final grades is starting to fade as a new project deadline approaches: getting a job. Some students took the impending graduation date seriously and organized a resume workshop. Local business professionals and human resource managers were on hand to offer free advice. APRN’s Heather Aronno – not far from graduating herself – attended the workshop and has this story.
In the Lyla Richards conference room in the UAA Student Union, quiet but animated conversations are taking place all over the room. Fifteen business representatives sit across from soon-to-be-graduates, discussing fonts, word choices, and the strategic use of bullet points. 23-year-old Evelyn Castillo is a Marketing major with a minor in Journalism and Public Communications. She says she’s looking for a job in marketing:
“I’m interning now in corporate communications with Alaska Communications, and it’s been a great experience, and I’m going to intern in the summer in a marketing position. So far, I really want to go full time into marketing, but we’ll see after this summer if I like it as much as I like P.R.”
Castillo helped organize the event. Business representatives volunteered their time to help over 50 students improve their resumes. She says UAA does a good job of educating students, but should put more emphasis on building networks while in college.
“They don’t really encourage networking opportunities. There’s amazing networks here that I’m a part of, and when I got to the luncheons, which is something I got used to doing because of being at this other school that they put it in our heads that it’s a great networking thing, it’s kind of weird to me when I’m the only student there.”
Megan Metcalf, 25, will graduate in December. She’s a Strategic Communications Major, and is currently serving as an intern at a local public relations agency. Metcalf says she was glad to get some tips on her resume, but she agrees with Castillo that more guidance should be given to students who are looking for industry connections.
“It’s not the easiest thing for students to get in contact with professionals, I think, and if it came from a Professor, or if the relationship were already established, it might be a little easier for students to get a foot in the door.”
Fred Millen is the H.R. Director for Alyeska Pipeline. He says he’s happy to be able to give back to the community by giving out advice to students, especially since he didn’t have the same opportunity when he was a new college graduate.The biggest tips Millen has for graduates entering the job market is surprisingly traditional. Cover letters are key.
“It’s important to an employer to know a little bit about the person, to know that they can write well, that they present themselves well. A cover letter would show that they’ve done a little bit of research about my company, that they’re not just sending out mass resumes or applications.”
He also recommends job hunters send out thank you notes to their interviewers.
UAA’s Career Services Center offers free career advice to students and members of the community. Office manager Natalie Elder also helped organize the workshop, and she is hopeful students getting advice will walk away with a little more confidence:
“I mean, confidence is one of the biggest things they need to be entering the workforce, so confidence and just a better resume. That’s the whole point of this workshop.”
As for me, that looming graduation brings with it both excitement and worry. The uncertainty of economic shifts can make the world seem like a scary place for an undergrad. But if more efforts like this workshop are made available, I think I’ll have a better chance at success.