#TBT…UCF Career Services Takes the Lead – Ready Room

Kathleen Rancourt, University of Central Florida

On Oct 3rd, UCF Career Services offered a new initiative at the already popular Career Expo – The Ready Room.  This year we had approximately 1700 students and over 200 employers who attended the Career Expo.  Career Services spends a lot of time prior to the event providing programs and services to help prepare our  students to meet employers. In addition to current programs and services, we implemented a new approach this Fall by hosting a Ready Room.  The Ready Room provided an opportunity for students to get immediate feedback and coaching prior to meeting with employers.

The Ready Room had four stations.

1. How Do I Look?  Students stood in front of a mirror and were able to get their business suits critiqued.  Scissors, safety pins and bobby pins were all on hand for last minute fixes.   Students were very appreciative for the helpful suggestions on how to dress to impress at future expos and interviews. It was great to see how open students were to getting feedback; some students were literally dashing through the turn-style and asking “How do I look?”

2. Picture Perfect – Students were dressed and looking sharp for their LinkedIn profile photograph.   They were very excited to be able to replace their casual photo for a professional one.  It was also a great  opportunity to educate students on LinkedIn as a powerful networking tool.  This was such a popular station that students who were not able to take their photo before the career expo made sure to return after the expo to have their photo taken.

3. Google Employers –Some students are often unaware of the importance of researching employers  prior to attending a career expo. Students were offered a work station with laptops and practical guidance on how to research employers.  Having knowledge of the companies they were interested in meeting was valued by both students and employers.

4. Practice Run – This station was definitely a hit.  Students were able to practice maintaining eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile and a strong introduction. Students had the chance to work one-on-one with a career professional to try out their pitch.  Not only was this great practice, but also a great confidence booster.

We were excited about this new initiative, but were not expecting such a great turnout.  We had almost 500 students come through the Ready Room and the student feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  After visiting the Ready Room, students were asked to complete feed-back evaluations.  Over 200 evaluations were collected and one hundred percent of students indicated they would recommend the Ready Room to other students.

“I’m so glad this was available.  It is such a valuable resource and made me feel more confident in myself and ready for the career fair.”  – UCF student

 “This was a great addition to the job fair.  It allowed students to not only prep, but release nervous energy before meeting with employers.  Very satisfying!”  – UCF student

#TBT…E-Mail Communication…It Works!

Sarabeth Varriano & Rex Wade, University of West Florida Career Services

Higher Education institutions are under the microscope to demonstrate students’ return on investment for their  attained degrees. Included in that assessment is student success in realizing their career goals. Career Services offices rightfully focus on career education and job search strategies and preparations with their constituent students. The authors of this monograph rightfully remind us of the importance of strategic employer development that results in meaningful partnerships, sponsorships, and effective talent recruitment.

A helpful review of employer relations history and evolution over the past several decades provides a context for developing a comprehensive and effective employer development strategies that aligns with an ever changing world of work and economy that is in flux. A thoughtful treatment is provided for approaches, programs, marketing strategies, event coordination, fundraising, technological support, and program assessment no matter what the number of staff or size of the institution.

In just a few pages, the authors provide not just a approach to employer relations but practical examples that include sample job descriptions, event checklists, report charts, staff performance review forms, employer evaluation examples, miscellaneous printed and electronic ads, and much more that are a part of an information packed Appendix.

The authors stress the importance of having a dynamic program with a final chapter that provides insight into future employment relations issues and trends including topics such as accountability, internships, distance learning, recruiting trends and social media.

This monograph is a must for any new Career Services professional. As a veteran of over 20 years of Career Services experience, I also found it thought provoking and inspiring for new ideas, approaches, and strategies. As I add this book to my library, I am confident that I will often refer to it’s practical resources while developing and assessing an effective employer relations program.

We are looking forward to growing this communication process and are excited to explore new ways to measure its success.



Packing, Prepping, and Primping: Getting Ready for #FloridaACE15!

Tara Stevenson, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers

Whether you pack within the hour of traveling or a few nights before the conference, the question of “What Do I Bring???” always strikes fear in conference goers.  Will my dress make me stand out in the worst way?  Do I really need this tie?  Can’t I just come in my swimsuit…it’s Florida after all!  To alleviate some of those stresses and ensure you start to get those excited juices flowing, here are a few items to stuff in those bags:

1. Slacks and Shirts – Attire is completely business casual for the conference.  Sport your school pride with your office polo or professional dress/skirt/top combo while we enjoy the near 100 degree weather this coming week.

2. Sweater/Ski Jacket/Mink Coat/Animal Rug – We all know they keep us awake and engaged in those rooms through the temperature.  It might be a scorcher outside, but usually conference breakout session rooms are set to a chillier temperature.  Whatever keeps you comfortable, layer it on.

3. Coin Collector’s Book – As we celebrate our 50th AnniversaryIMG_1056 at the Golden Gala Banquet on Thursday night, you will have the opportunity to trolley through St. Augustine, look through scrapbooks of previous conferences, test your palate with delicious food, and dance the night away in the Flagler College Dining Hall.  One of the newest additions to the Dining Hall is a Penny Pincher for your coin collection!  And you thought you would walk away with no souvenirs…

4. Disposable Camera – Technology makes it to where we only take “perfect” pictures and see the results instantly.  Why not grab a disposable camera (they should still be available somewhere out there!), snap away throughout the conference, and relive the memories when you develop the pictures later?  Always a good laugh and it keeps the fun going past the conference.

5. Sweat band – We already established it’s gonna be a hot one this week, but what better way to get the blood pumping than with a 5K Fun Walk/Run around the hotel?  Sign up will be at registration.  FYI…timers will be checked at the starting line.  It’s a FUN run for all, remember?!

6. Hmm…. – There’s definitely more we forgot, I’m sure of it!  Check your email from our Information Manager about more specifics to pack and keep your social media handles at the ready!  Contests and online networking will be plentiful, either through the Conference App, Twitter Contest and/or the LinkedIn Group.

We look forward to seeing everyone in St. Augustine in just a few days.  Travel safe no matter how far or near you come from!

#TBT…Student Success Celebration at Florida Tech

Tace 2he Office of Career Management Services at Florida Tech just held the second Student Success Celebration to honor students who have completed a job/internship/co-op from Summer 2013 to Fall 2013 (dates could vary) and/or have a job already set for them upon graduating in December 2013. During the first of these events, which occurred in Spring 2013, the Office of Career Management  Services was looking for students with the same criteria but for Summer 2012 through Spring 2013.

This celebration, although for the students, helped the department with assessment.  The students were able to enjoy light refreshments and have a chance to win great prizes in a raffle. The Office of Career Management Services hopes to continue this activity for many semesters to come.


#TBT…Email Etiquette: The Art of Writing in the 21st Century

Jairo R. Ledesma, Florida International University

For centuries the art of writing a letter was just that: an art.  Writing was reserved for scribes, whose job it was to draft carefully edited letters and books that would be read by the elite. Over time, with the advent of technology the scribe was replaced and the production of books and letters was accessible to many. That was a good thing I guess. The drawback, we could surmise, has been that we no longer pay attention to detail and the power that the written word has. Take for example the manner in which we communicate today. Electronic mail, or email, is perhaps the number one way we communicate (I do believe this is changing, and how you communicate has to do with the age bracket you fall under) and it is perhaps the only way we have to get our point across in great detail, since the days of actually writing a letter by hand are all but gone.

Email in its purest form is a representation of who we are. It allows the reader to infer our character, mood and overall mental well being. IF I WRITE TO YOU IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, you will assume that I am either very angry at you or that I simply forgot to let go of the Caps Lock button. if i rite to u like this, u may think that i am younger and hip, or maybe you will think I am your friend or something. Or if I write to you like one my students did recently “Yo Ledesma,  I uploaded my resume go ahead and approve it because I needed ASAP” you may think I was a bit rude.

So, where have all the etiquette and manners gone? Over the course of my almost 13 years in higher education, I have noticed that etiquette as it pertains to writing has diminished and seems to be spiraling downwards. Gone are the days of paying attention to detail, to the tone and to our audience.

The internet/information revolution perhaps has made us go a bit faster than we were previously accustomed to. In our haste to keep up, perhaps we have neglected the details, or is it that in our early educational experience, the emphasis on writing and grammar has shifted? Could it be perhaps that these deficiencies were always there, but is it only now when the written word is more important than ever, that we notice this? Whatever the case may be I find myself having an internal battle of whether or not I should take the time to “school” a student on proper email etiquette. I think about whether the student will actually take into consideration what I just wrote to them. I contemplate whether I now will get into a back and forth with a student who may take offense to a “teaching moment.” In the end, the educator in me always wins out. In my line of work, every moment is a teaching moment, an opportunity to share information and/or an opportunity to make students reflect and think.

Alas, there is hope; I think, I hope. Just browsing the Linkedin website, I come across hundreds of professionals who profess knowledge of email decorum. A quick Google search finds a plethora of articles on the subject. But in the end, I am convinced that it will be the educator in all of us to let our students, our future professionals, know how important communication is and how vital email etiquette is to their professional development and future. I usually do my best in the most polite fashion to let the   student know first what the mistakes were, and then next how it can be done better. More importantly, I let them know why it matters so much that they get this figured out before they reach the professional world. I sometimes provide links to articles (such as this one from inc.com) so that students do not just hear it from me. Lastly, remember that as Career Services professionals, if we don’t take the time then someone else may.  BECAUSE if u dont…some1 will,  butt it May be 2 LATE!!!!!!!