Creating career confidence

A College of Business student models a skirt suit as part of a career event on campus. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

College of Business student Monica Truax models a skirt suit as part of a career event on campus. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

For years, Oregon State students have been learning the ins and outs of landing and keeping a good job through the annual career symposium. This year, organizers took a different approach to strengthening career-building skills. Creating Career Confidence took place on Oct. 16, and combined a number of interactive and engaging events to drive home the skills essential to getting a good job.

The event was presented by the College of Business and the Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity, and included a panel of OSU alumni discussing vital employment issues, a speed networking session, and a fashion show featuring Alpha Kappa Psi members wearing business-appropriate attire from local shops.

Organizer Tristen Shay, an academic advisor, said the event was a new take on an old idea, emphasizing not only how to get a job, but what behaviors and attitudes are appropriate in the modern business world.

Advice from professionals was key to the event, especially alumni. On the speakers panel, alums provided their own perspective, including answering questions such as “What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?”

The tough economy makes this kind of information especially relevant, Shay said.

“There’s such a frenzy to get a job that people are not paying attention to ‘How do you get a job.’”

During the speed networking session, professionals such as Kris Cable, a 1997 graduate of the College of Business and current recruiter for Providence Health Care, gave students the chance to practice their networking skills. Cable said she loved giving back to the university, and helping students hone their job finding skills, and even offered to help look over resumes.

Doug Cochran of OSU Career Services gave the students a quick overview of how to work a room during a networking opportunity.

OSU College of Business' Mark Van Patten speaks with COB student Pamela Graham during a networking session held Oct. 16 on campus. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

OSU College of Business' Mark Van Patten speaks with COB student Pamela Graham during a networking session held Oct. 16 on campus. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

“During our conversation you may feel a little cheesy,” he warned, but with a honed 30-second elevator speech, approaching a potential employer is a lot less daunting.

“Take your whole life and put it into a 30-second sound bite,” he advised.

Cochran explained to the students how little things mattered as much as a slick speech, including good hygiene, promptness, and considering the details, such as the outgoing message on your cell phone, which could put off a potential employer. Inappropriate Facebook photos, sloppy attire and careless manners also undermine job seekers.

After his pep talk, students circulated through the room, practicing approaching professionals like Cable, and worked the kinks out of issues such as the timing of asking for a business card, and where to hang their nametags.

Finally, the day culminated in a fast-paced fashion show where students saw the kind of attire expected from business casual, formal and even cocktail events. It was the finishing touch on a day meant to help students fulfill Cochran’s advice.

“You need to be on your game.”

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