KOKOMO, Ind. – When Ashley Vest begins searching for her first post-college job, she will do so with confidence, because of experience gained at Indiana University Kokomo.
Vest, a junior, was among the students attending the Lean Into Your Legacy Conference, a job fair and professional development event with more than 50 employers, speed interviewing and résumé critiques, professional head shots, and a career wear fashion show.
“I was nervous, and had to have a pep talk,” she said, adding that it was easier than she expected to talk to potential employers. “With this experience, I won’t be so worried the next time.”
That’s why the Career and Accessibility Center offers the conference for all students, and encourages them to start attending during their first year, according to Nicole Miller, employment specialist, who led the event.
“We realize it takes some time to polish the types of professional skills employers look for,” she said. “The earlier students start, the more likely they will feel comfortable networking and interviewing to begin their careers.”
Miller said the conference combines many of the professional development programs previously offered as standalone events into one, creating a one-stop opportunity for growth.
“We have found students like the conference-style event,” she said. In addition to meeting with representatives of companies and organizations such as Green Cubes Technology, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Logansport State Hospital, Total Seed Production, and White River State Park, students could also take a strengths assessment and discuss the results with faculty, or have a professional picture taken to use on LinkedIn or similar media.
There were also a variety of Cougar Career Talks, similar to a TED Talk, with speakers and topics including Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke on leadership; Brandon Bishop, market manager from Coca-Cola Bottling on realistic avenues to success; hospitality and tourism major Emily Harsh on how experience builds your résumé and brand; Santos Salinas, financial advisor for Edward Jones on making your major a success; and Hannah Slover, manager of campus partnership for Ascend Indiana on career readiness tips.
Sophomore Tyler Yoars, Peru, attended the session about realistic avenues to success.
“I think it gave me a lot of knowledge and background as I look into marketing,” he said. He also used the opportunity to talk to employers about internship and job shadowing possibilities, and appreciated asking questions about their experiences.
“This is a great event to get ideas for what you might want to do,” he said. “Talking to other professionals helped me narrow it down.”
While Rebekah Eads is studying marketing, she’s not 100 percent sure that’s what she wants to do. She came to the conference to consider other possibilities, and was interested in what she heard about Cornerstone Autism Center.
“I wanted to explore options,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to see what’s out there, and to start communicating with people, and learn to present yourself effectively. That’s important when you’re ready to get a job.”
Schalene Shafer sought internship opportunities, and was interested in potential jobs at the Logansport State Hospital and Wabash County Court Services. She also had participated in a résumé critique, and plans to edit and polish it before she applies for a job or internship.
“Overall, this was a valuable experience,” she said. “I know my résumé needs more work, and it was a chance to get my foot in the door with companies, through networking.”
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.