Workshop helps students improve their chances in the job market
The pressure of finding a job after graduating often brings students to the edge of the proverbial cliff.
During his third "Don't Jump! Improving your Job Hunting & Networking Odds" career session, UB alumnus Drew Kerr, CEO of Four Corners Communications, reminded students that it's acceptable to freak out about the post-college job hunt.
"The truth is, most students who go job hunting are mediocre," Kerr said. "I'm not a guru… but I am going to give you the skills you need to stand out against the rest."
Kerr began by stressing the importance of the resume and cover letter in the job-hunting process. He believes that the approach students are taking today in cover letter writing is purely outdated and boring.
"Nobody knows how to sell themselves," Kerr said. "The world of cover letters and resumes today take the same dinosaur approach, and it's just boring."
Helping students stand out as individuals, Kerr suggests that cover letters display a list of the applicants' accomplishments and contain thorough research on both the company and job field being applied to. Visiting company websites and becoming familiar with the names of company officials can be great assets. Employers will respond better when they receive e-mails that are personalized.
"Do not begin a letter with ‘I am a…' because ironically, it says absolutely nothing about who you are," Kerr said. "Always list accomplishments such as projects, internships, and volunteering you've done. That will be your ammunition."
Kerr also expressed the significance of partaking in internships. Not only do they give students a competitive edge, but they can also help applicants stick their feet in the door, helping create important connections and networks.
Kerr made his final point when stressing the importance of creating and maintaining connections in networking. Networking is the way to find jobs that aren't necessarily advertised; they spread by word-of-mouth instead.
"The goal when you network is to make sure that it spreads as wide as possible," Kerr said. "You never know who is sitting next to you and who they might know."
For those who are not sure where to start in creating a business network of connections, Kerr suggests the popular website LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business-oriented social-networking site, specifically used to make professional connections and land jobs.
Brianna Backus, a senior English major, thought that Kerr's seminar was very helpful.
"I am nervous about finding a job in today's market," Backus said. "But I definitely think I'm better prepared…I think I'm going to be much more proactive about my networking."
Kerr, however, did not convince everyone in attendance. Stephanie Pinckney, a senior psychology and interdisciplinary early childhood education major, felt the workshop wasn't really geared toward her field.
"He spoke mostly about big businesses and corporations. I'm more interested in teaching in elementary schools," Pinckney said. "And education is not a very open field if you don't have good connections."
Kerr suggests that the best way to preserve relationships is to be honest and human. He suggests that students send out e-mails every once in a while to show potential employers that they are active, are taking initiative, and are knowledgeable about the company. These e-mails will also keep the student's name on the radar when a position opens.
"My advice is to start your network now. Once students have created their connections, the hardest part is maintaining them," Kerr said. "You cannot win if you do not play."