CareerUP event highlights tips and tricks for virtual networking, interviewing
Professionals from nearly 40 local employers joined KU Edwards Campus students virtually on Oct. 22 for the annual CareerUP event. Students put their new skills in virtual networking and interviewing to test as they met professionals in their fields of study.
The Edwards Campus again partnered with the DeBruce Foundation in offering the Agile Work Profiler. This free, online tool is free to the public and gives you your top 10 strengths, as well as areas where you can learn and grow, and ideas for your resume and interviews.
“The profiler provides your today answer, but anything you can do to ignite your career and activate it, you’ll continue to develop those,” said Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, executive director and chief operating officer at the DeBruce Foundation. “Network structures are essential to being an informed career decision-maker and finding and expanding career opportunities.”
CareerUP is a unique opportunity for students to connect directly with employers to expand their careers and discover internship and employment opportunities. This fall’s event focused on virtual networking and interviewing.
“Students were able to learn and practice pertinent skills for today’s workplace with some of the area’s top employers and prepare for the post-COVID world,” said Stuart Day, dean of the KU Edwards Campus and School of Professional Studies. “CareerUP is a valuable part of our students’ journeys as they interact with professionals in their various fields of study. These students have shown incredible adaptability and dedication, which were on full display at this event.”
Participating employers included:
- AdventHealth Shawnee Mission
- Burns & McDonnell
- City of Merriam
- City of Overland Park
- Comprehensive Mental Health Services
- Cornerstones of Care
- DeBruce Foundation
- Federal Executive Board
- Four County Mental Health Center
- Hill's Pet Nutrition
- Integrity Home Care
- Johnson County Dept. of Corrections
- Johnson County Government
- Johnson County Mental Health Center
- JRW Bioremediation
- Kansas Dept. for Children & Families
- KCK Public Schools
- Kids TLC
- KU Health System
- KU Medical Center
- MRI Global
- Progress Rail
- Saint Francis Ministries
- Saint Luke's Health System
- SelectQuote Insurance
- Swope Health
- Truman Medical Centers
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"Hill's Pet Nutrition is proud to support and attend the annual CareerUP event at the KU Edwards Campus. Networking is a powerful way to build and expand relationships and to learn more about new career opportunities," said Renea Creech, associate scientist at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “As a global company with a local presence, we enjoyed meeting these talented students and hope that many will explore career paths with Hill's Pet Nutrition in the future”
Anne Palmer, career development and internship program manager at the KU Edwards Campus, kicked off the event with a session revealing some tips and tricks for connecting in a virtual space. Here’s a round-up of her advice and resources.
Tips and Tricks: interviewing, networking through Zoom
As Palmer told CareerUP attendees, networking is an intentional conversation, building genuine connections. This takes practice, and one of the benefits of structured networking events is you have time to prepare.
Prepare your intro
Practice introducing yourself. You have the benefit of preparing what you’d like to say ahead of time and not feeling pressured to coming up with something on the spot.
Prepare like you would for an in-person networking event
Do your research. What companies are attending, and what would you like to know about them?
Outline your goals. Are you exploring career pathways? Thinking about internships? Just want to practice speaking with others in a professional setting? All the above? Great! Come up with some questions that align with your goals.
Make sure you update your online presence as you would your resume. Freshen up that LinkedIn profile.
Prepare your space
Test your technology ahead of time. Have you downloaded the latest version of Zoom?
Create a neutral background with good lighting. See how that professional outfit you’ve chosen looks on camera, and make sure you can keep your dog from barking for an hour or so.
Here are more tips for creating a productive workspace.
Prepare to talk about yourself
Are you curious where you can leverage your strengths and interests in the workforce, how to speak confidently about your strengths and skills in the workplace, or what it takes to reach your career goals? Get started by taking the Agile Work Profiler.
“Events like CareerUP are critical in connecting students to local employers and preparing them for the current state of the workforce,” said Anne Palmer, career development and internship program manager at the KU Edwards Campus. “This year’s event focused on lessons learned in virtual networking and interviews, which is a big part of today’s reality and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It was great to see our students put new skills into practice and gain valuable connections for the next phases in their careers.”
This was the first CareerUP experience for Jocelyn Segura, a transfer ambassador and student in the Bachelor of Social Work program. Not only was this her first CareerUP, it was also her first virtual networking experience.
“I was surprised how intimate it was to speak with future employers,” she said. “In a virtual space, you’re both in your safe playing field, either at home or in your office. It gave me a sense of safety and made it easier to be myself and get to know these professionals.”
She said her conversations, especially with Johnson County Mental Health and Swope Health, excited her for her future.
“Everyone was so helpful and genuinely wanted us to succeed,” Segura said. “I had so much fun, and it was great to learn about programs these employers have, work environment, benefits – such as tuition reimbursement – internships and shadowing opportunities. My closing question was always ‘What’s the best way to stay in touch?’”
Planning what to say when introducing herself proved to be effective, too. “Have a mission statement or elevator pitch ready that includes what you’re studying, what you’re interested in and when you’re graduating,” she said. “It saves you time to ask more questions and personalizes the conversation. When I didn’t start with this, it set a different tone. Be prepared with what you’re going to say and stick with it.”
What’s her biggest advice for students for future CareerUP events? Go.
“We’re in such a good time in our career and educational journeys to see what we do and do not want to do,” Segura said. “I like to keep my options open. I don’t know where I want to specialize, for example. It’s easier to see that when you’re talking to employers instead of going to their website or talking over email. This was a huge opportunity to speak with so many employers in a short time span.”
Additional KU Edwards Campus student resources
KUEC is here to help students build professional relationships and develop networking skills, as well as support career-building throughout their time at KU. Here are some suggestions and resources for students from Ben Herron, associate director of student services:
- Review KU’s career services and resources
- Take 10 minutes to complete the free Agile Work Profiler to better understand your strengths and interests in the workforce.
- Explore Jayhawk Ready! You can explore careers, prepare resumes, and master the interview process.
- HireJayhawks.com is the place to find jobs and internships, search positions that employers want to hire only Jayhawks for, view career events happening near you, and research employers you want to work for.
- Schedule a Career Coaching appointment with a KU career coach.
- Micro-Internships through the Parker Dewey platform are short-term, paid, professional assignments that allow students to demonstrate skills, explore career paths, and build their networks as they seek the right full-time role.
As Herron tells students, “Your career is in your hands, but we're here to help you down the path.”