By Leah Jablonski
In efforts to promote career development and calling in students, co-directors of the Pendle Hill Project Laura Foote and Dr. Scott Waalkes teamed up to create an annual career fair retreat on Friday, Feb. 25th, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“The retreat had been in the works for the past three years, and it was, in my opinion, a great opportunity for students to receive advice from professionals and learn what important skills and information would be necessary to know for post-college life and careers,” Andryana Aristor, junior exercise major, said.
Though the intent of this retreat has not changed, professor Waalkes explained how the original goal has.
“The original goal was to do a sophomore seminar focus,” Waalkes said. “We wanted to make sure we reached second-year students who have gone through the first year and are starting to settle into a career.”
When planning the event, it was decided to broaden the audience to include students of any year being that the key messages of the career fair are widely applicable to anyone.
“The three key ideas included mirrors to reflect on who you are,” Waalkes said. “The second part was going from mirrors to windows on the world [for students to] look out and network. The last part was what we call guiding lights, which taught how to do informational interviews.”
In addition, the event entailed a variety of reflective activities to better prepare students for their respective work fields.
Mya Clark, sophomore professional writing and editing major, was one of the 39 students to attend and explained how useful the event was in preparing her for her future career path.
“The career fair was a whole day spent doing resume building, STAR interviews, headshots and [receiving] a lot of information on getting yourself into the work field you plan to go into after college,” Clark said. “It helps you get your foot in the door and was a great experience!”
The career retreat included facilitators and professionals such as Claire Smith, Chelsea McFolling, Laura Foote and Toni Smith to guide students in reflection workshops.
Interviewing etiquette, business dos and don’ts, work ethic expectations, professional norms and more were all concepts covered.
“The advice and encouragement from professionals was very beneficial to hear,” Aristor said. “I took what they said about acting professional in the workplace, how to behave during interviews, when and how quickly to send thank you notes and how to conduct informative interviews all to heart.”
With many incentives for attending, Waalkes hopes that the attendance for and knowledge of this event will only grow in the coming years.
“I found out about this by my professor, Dr. Waalkes,” Clark said. “He and my other professors kept handing out flyers and reminded us that if we sign up we could win a free gift card to Chick-fil-a or Chipotle and it was an SFO credit, so it was a win-win.”
Similarly, Aristor found out about the retreat through her professors.
“I heard about the career retreat from a couple of my professors, but I was also nominated by Dr. Stuckey as a person who she thought would enjoy and benefit from it,” Aristor said. “I also just think it’s in my best interest to take advantage of the many opportunities Malone has to offer because I know other universities are not doing the same.”
In addition to career guidance opportunities, Malone also offers career counseling opportunities, the PathwayU platform and professors like Waalkes that are happy to help.
“We had our career counselor [Christina Woloch] come in and talk about PathwayU,” Waalkes said. “[With PathwayU] you do five career inventories and it gives you strong matches for your career. This platform is very helpful for students and is open and free to anyone.”
“You can certainly come talk to me if you have thoughts or concerns about career paths,” Waalkes said. “If you’re looking for someone to read a resume or a cover letter, or just to strategize, I’d be happy to meet and hopefully encourage students to attend the retreat next year.”
With a variety of benefits, career resources give students the opportunity to better prepare themselves for their futures.
“I plan to implement the tips and tricks they gave us, and I would definitely encourage other students to attend the retreat in the future.” Aristor said.
“I would recommend this [career retreat] event to anyone,” Clark said. “[Especially] anyone who might be struggling or questioning on how to put their foot in the door for jobs they might be interested in. It can open up many opportunities to students in the future. Learning something new from [this event] can change your perspective on a lot of things!”