Career development eases students into real world

At some point in every person’s life comes a time to enter the “real world.” Graduation commences and what happens next can be a complete mystery. But according to recent graduates, the John Brown University experience provides all that is needed to transition into life after college.

Hayley Hendren graduated from the University in 2013 and is now working at Harbinger Pictures in Los Angeles. She said her experience in the communication and cinema departments helped prepare her for the professional environment.

“I learned so much by working with really dedicated people, both professors and students,” said Hendren. “The strict assignment due dates in college helped me prepare for real-life projects and being responsible for deadlines.”

Mallory Williams, ‘13, said the University was a great place to discover herself. She began her secondary education at a two-year college and transferred as a junior.

“It may sound cliché, but I entered into the next phase of my life with an understanding that Christ is my foundation and through him all things are possible,” said Williams. “JBU helped me have a deeper understanding of how important Christ is while facing whatever challenges or blessings lay ahead.”

The University offers practical preparation for after graduation as well.

The Center for Career Development is a network dedicated to connecting students, alumni and parents with professional opportunities. Chris Confer, director of Career Development, works with students who need assistance with career connections and decisions.

“Talking to employers, the number one comment I get is that our students are prepared both academically and in the soft skills that can’t be taught, the ability to communicate effectively, problem solve, work hard and simply pass a background check,” Confer said.

A survey conducted by Confer last year found University graduates from December 2011 and May 2012 had a 99 percent placement rate into employment or graduate school. 53 percent of employed graduates reported their job being highly related to their major.

He said that there are a few key things that give students an advantage when entering the professional world, such as a good resume and job interview practice.

Confer conducts workshops for resume review and mock interviews throughout the year. He also helps students create LinkedIn profiles because he has found that to now be an essential piece of the career toolkit.

But his secret weapon is a handwritten thank-you note after an interview.

“It sounds like grandma, but I can’t tell you the number of employers who say that makes a huge difference and the number of students who come back and say that was the reason they got their job,” said Confer.

Confer said the quality of education at John Brown University makes a difference to employers, but he still encourages students to prepare for future careers now.

The Career Development Center has events for students every month.

One upcoming opportunity on campus is a LinkedIn profile workshop on Nov. 14.