UWF Sees Positive Results with the “College Liaison Model”


Jennifer Hill M.P.A. M.Ed., University of West Florida

Career Services at the University of West Florida has utilized its College Liaison Model in a unique way this year.  Each Liaison has planned and executed a “Career Road Trip” to a local employer related to the majors in their college. These trips take approximately 25 students to a local employer and consist of a behind-the-scenes tour, talks on what a typical day looks like, career advice for students, and conclude with a networking session.
The students sign-up to attend the free event and complete an online learning module that includes developing a One-Minute Commercial to assist them with networking at the event. Students are provided lunch by either Career Services or the Employer and provided transportation to the event by Career Services.

All UWF students/alumni are invited to attend the event, however seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.  A waitlist is also available when the available seats are filled and empty seats are offered to those on the waitlist through the morning of the event itself (in the case of no-shows).

Locations included:

  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car (College of Business)
  • Pensacola Blue Wahoos Stadium (College of Education and Professional Studies)
  • Navy Federal Credit Union (Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering)
  • Andrew’s Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (Usha Kundu, MD College of Health)
  • Pensacola Museum of Art (College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities)

At the conclusion of each trip, the employers and students are asked to complete a follow-up survey seeking feedback related to their experience.

The students are also asked about their confidence levels in their ability to effectively communicate with a potential employer prior to the event and then again at the conclusion of the event.


In addition, 100% of students indicated they would recommend the Career Road Trips to other students and had the following to say about their experiences:

“The PMA road trip was a very eye opening experience. By seeing the behind the scenes of the museum, I learned that it takes an extensive collaborative effort to keep the institution afloat. This trip showed me that I would enjoy working in a museum type atmosphere. The networking opportunities were a tremendous help as well, it allowed me to gain valuable volunteer and internship experience to add to my resume.”-Pensacola Museum of Art Career Road Trip Attendee

“The Career Road Trip to the PMA provided me the opportunity to get an in depth, behind the scenes look at gallery studies and what it’s like to work in an art gallery. Although I am studying to be a practicing artist rather than an art historian, this opportunity opened my eyes to what a career in this particular field entails and gave me the opportunity to build relationships with influential community figures and potential mentors.”- Pensacola Museum of Art Career Road Trip Attendee

Employers also had very positive things to say about their experiences with the Road Trips:

“We feel that the road trip was a positive experience for both the students and the staff. The students were professional and motivated. We look forward to having those students take an active role in the museum and our relationship with future career service road trips.” –Pensacola Museum of Art

“Working to coordinate this event with Tim was seamless, and our employees were eager and willing to take time out of their day to speak with UWF undergraduate students. Our employees had great feedback from being involved with the event and are looking forward to the next opportunity.” –Andrew’s Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

For more information on the Career Road Trips or our College Liaison Model, please feel free to contact me at jhill2@uwf.edu 


#TBT…University of West Florida Career Services Engages International and Study Abroad Students

Katie Hudon, University of West Florida

The University of West Florida (UWF) Career Services Department has partnered with the Office of Diversity and International Education and Programs (ODIEP) to afford UWF international and study abroad students the opportunity to learn about techniques and best practices in career planning and to understand the availability and advantages of engaging in experiential learning.  Both international students and study abroad students have unique needs, opportunities and challenges they face.  UWF Career Services has worked to become well informed about these populations so that the office can better  support, offer programming, and assist these students in communicating their experiences to bolster their credentials and help ease the transition for them into their future careers.

In addition to extensive research conducted by Career Services staff, representatives from Career Services from both the Career Planning Team and the Experiential Learning Team reached out to the Director of the International Student Office as well as Program Coordinators/Advisors for International Students, the International Center and Study Abroad.  Setting up meetings with these ODIEP staff members created an ongoing series of forums for learning about students with which the ODIEP regularly worked.  Career Services representatives were able to ask pointed questions about how to best reach out to and serve international and study abroad students.  Moreover, to get a pulse on the needs of international students, discussions with the ODIEP included uncovering common questions and concerns related to Career Services that were asked by UWF international students.  For study abroad students, opportunities such as international internships and future participation at the ODIEP-hosted Study Abroad Fair were explored.

From these meetings, Career Services gained valuable insight on participation and partnership opportunities available through events and activities hosted by the ODIEP.  For example, participation through volunteerism at large-scale events hosted by the ODIEP (such as UWF Celebrates the World and Cultural Explosion) allowed staff members to meet and interact with many UWF international students and those students interested in study abroad.

In addition to learning more about ODIEP events and international and study abroad students, Career Services was able to share its own upcoming events.  Representatives of the office were also able to inform the ODIEP team about the full range of services available through the Career Services office.

As a result of this newfound relationship between the two departments (which are housed in two different divisions at UWF), the lines of communication are fully open between the ODIEP and Career Services.  For example, recently, job scam alerts were discussed in a Career Services staff meeting.  As this issue was being discussed in the staff meeting, Career Services staff quickly recognized that this information should be shared with the ODIEP, as many of these scams target international students.  Soon after the staff meeting, this information was relayed to appropriate individuals in the ODIEP.  In addition to protecting students because of the free flow of information now existing between the two offices, international students are very frequently referred to Career Services for various career needs.  The close relationship between the two offices keeps Career Services forefront in the minds of ODIEP staff as a helpful resource for both students and staff members.

Finally, a capstone programming initiative was launched in the Fall of 2012, an initiative that further demonstrates the impact of the flourishing collaboration between the two departments.  In an effort to focus on the specific needs of international students, a series of career-related workshops targeting international students were held.  The first workshop provided an overview of Career Services and gave some specific information related to job search strategies, networking, and goal setting.  The second workshop, held early in the Spring of 2013, provided students with techniques for interviewing, networking, and engaging employers at career events.  This presentation was strategically situated for relevancy less than three weeks before the UWF Spring Career Showcase, which was the largest career expo of the Spring 2013 Term.  Several international students attended the career expo after coming to the workshop.  The third workshop, which was a resume workshop, allowed international students the opportunity to identify similarities and differences between resumes in their home countries and in the U.S.  All of the workshops were infused with well-researched content highlighting best career development practices for international students.  Students from both the Pensacola and Emerald Coast campus attended the workshops, and international students representing each of the three UWF colleges were present.  Students attending the workshops were very engaged and asked in-depth and specific questions that allowed Career Services staff to convey their knowledge gained from research and experience.


#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…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…UWF Hosts Second Annual Etiquette Dinner

Kate Hollimon, University of West Florida

In February, the University of West Florida hosted their second annual Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition.  This event distinguishes itself from a typical Etiquette Dinner as it is the next step beyond learning basic etiquette to application with an employer.   The UWF Career Services offices hosted the Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition off campus at a local popular restaurant, McGuire’s Irish Pub, to give students a more authentic experience of interviewing over a meal.  Sixteen employers were invited to dine with students and ask them basic interview questions while also providing the students feedback on their interviewing skills.

For students who attended the fall Etiquette Dinner, they were able to put into practice all they had learned regarding interviewing techniques over a meal; however, students shared that they still learned even more from the Interview Edition of the Etiquette Dinner, “[the event] had great tips for what to do to prepare for an interview and what to ask the interviewer.”  Employers responded that they felt similarly regarding the additional training that students received at the dinner, “Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in the UWF interview etiquette dinner this year. This was an excellent event! Participants were provided with invaluable information and practice to ensure success in their future interviews.”

The evening began with a salad course and allowed employers and students to complete introductions.  The main course was served buffet style which was selected intentionally so as to expose students to how to navigate etiquette when going through a buffet line.  After final educational instructions were given regarding further interviewing techniques and etiquette, the dessert course was served.  Over 50 students engaged in the meal saying that they felt they learned valuable information, “I learned a lot and feel as though it will help me in the real world.”

Of all the employers who responded to a survey following the event, they all said they would be very likely or   extremely likely to return next year as a host for the Etiquette Dinner – Interview Edition.  Employers expressed their positive feedback regarding the purpose of the event, “ [we are ] pleased to partner with UWF in preparing students …for success in their employment and business endeavors.”

Because of the positive feedback from both students and employers, it’s a clear demonstration of the need for this type of application event.  UWF Career Services intends to host the event next year with continued plans to host the event off campus at a local community restaurant.


#TBT…Next Generation Aviation Career Expo at Broward College, South Campus in Pembroke Pines

aceby Ian Ferguson, Career Advisor, Broward College – South Campus

On July 11, 2012, the Career Center at Broward College’s south campus hosted a unique and successful career fair in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA approached Broward College’s Aviation Institute this past spring with an idea to explore recruitment and career opportunities for aviation students, and this proposed partnership became the nexus for the Next Generation Aviation Career Expo.  The Aviation department enlisted the assistance of Adam DeRosa, the South Campus Career Center Coordinator, who suggested ways to expand the project into the full-scale career fair.  After an initial conference, we scheduled biweekly meetings with key Broward College staff and FAA officials, and the expanded project quickly took shape.

With the assistance of Broward College Job Developer Autumn Whitfield, we began the process of reaching out to various industry-related corporations and federal agencies, taking the initially smaller-scaled symposium and turning it into the multi-corporate Next Generation Career Expo, with a participant list that eventually included Spirit Airlines, Gulfstream, the Transportation Safety Administration, and many more.

Additionally, we enlisted the participation of the major Broward College education departments and organizations from all four campuses, many of which were represented at individual tables at the event.  This enabled Broward College to have its own significant presence at the Expo, taking advantage of a marketing plan that included present, prospective and ace1alumni students as well as the general public.  The Expo culminated with an informative and extremely well-received panel discussion / Q&A session with Federal Aviation Administration officials, leading all involved to look forward to similar events at Broward College in the future.


#TBT…Approaching Employers at Career Fair Events: An Employer Perspective

by Sandi Ohman, Senior Program Manager, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

As career professionals we strive to educate students on how to be successful in all steps of the career process.  We know they don’t always implement this advice – that is evident at the events!  However, when a recruiter or hiring manager shares the same advice with students they tend to take it to heart.

Recently, we reached out to several employers that typically attend the Industry/Career Expo at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, asking for their perspective on students at such an event.  We wanted to know what they look for when students approach their booth.  When determining who they want to interview further, we asked the employers to share some of the basic questions they ask students at the booth.  The response was good and the feedback was somewhat expected and traditional with some exceptions.

The top areas that stood out with employers and made impressions were the following:

  • Knowledge about the company and knows a few specific facts
  • Knows what they want to do for that specific company, or at least have an idea
  • Has the ability to carry on a conversation with the recruiter – so good, or even average, communication skills
  • A good introduction
  • Awareness of strengths and interests
  • A true passion for their career interest
  • A good attitude and shows confidence – whether real or faked
  • Prepared – research, resume, note pad to take notes
  • Well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the event, a good handshake, make eye contact and smile
  • Strong academics

A few tips employers shared that are not as traditional, but still good to consider:

  • Take the initiative to contact previous interns to find out about the positions and company as part of their  preparation
  • Held a job or been involved in extracurricular activities that are related to their major
  • The student doesn’t have to wear a suit and tie, but should still be well groomed and neat.  The clothes should be a complement to the person and what they would bring to the company.

When asked about the questions they ask students, a.k.a. the screening process, the responses were again expected:

  • Where do you want to be geographically? (Especially important for companies far away from the university’s location)
  • What are the skills/knowledge areas you bring to the company?
  • Tell me about your background and experiences?  (Ensures relevance to what the company is looking for in  candidates)
  • Walk me through your resume. (Testing their ability to engage in a conversation about themselves, hitting points like achievements and passion)
  • Why XYZ company? (Especially important at a career event when there are many companies to talk to, often times very similar in function.  This also helps determine motivation)
  • What brought you to ABC university?
  • What type of position are you seeking?  How does your education and experiences relate to this area?
  • Tell me about a project or class that you’ve been involved in, that has prepared for this type of position.
  • What are you not interested in doing professionally?
  • Where do you see yourself professionally, over the next __ years?
  • What are your favorite classes/professor and why?
  • What is your dream job?
  • Why should we select you?

Advice from a sampling of employers does not capture the full scope of the students’ experience at a career fair event, but it is a place to start.  Many will hear this advice, some will listen, even fewer will take it to heart and prepare accordingly.  Those that do gain the reward!