Meeting a prospective employer for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. There is the pressure to make a good first impression, give eloquent answers and ask thoughtful questions. One of the ways that Pacific prepares students for the career opportunities that lay ahead is through events where they can practice navigating interactions with employers.
On November 14, 2016, the University’s Career Resource Center hosted an etiquette dinner. At the event, students had the opportunity to practice networking and dining in a professional setting. The Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association sponsored the 20 students undergraduate and graduate students who attended this annual event.
“I would definitely recommend this to future students because it has made me more comfortable dining at nice restaurants and it was a valuable experience if I go to an interview dinner,” said speech-language pathology (SLP) student Ashley Cearley ’17. Her classmate, Monica Berg ’17, agrees, “It was great to receive information about dining in a business setting and note what employers were looking for.” Berg connected with Jillian Hall ’13, MS, CCC-SLP, who is a speech-language pathologist for Twin Rivers Unified School District. “We spoke about her job experience, other colleges and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” Berg said.
SLP student Connie Mach ’17 also connected with a speech-language pathologist. She shares, “She was very friendly and shared her experiences working as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings, including early intervention in the homes, school sites and in the hospitals.” Mach adds, “I think it was a great opportunity to practice networking skills and meet potential employers. I would recommend bringing business cards and thinking of questions to ask the employers prior to the event.”
Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Samantha Moore ’17 practiced her networking skills. “I appreciated the pointers that were provided that evening about how to better conduct myself,” Moore said. “I found this beneficial in how to interact with other professionals including potential employers.”
Throughout the year students have opportunities to attend events focused on career development. “We highly encourage students to start attending career events and start devising a career development plan as early as their first year in the program,” said Erica Ruiz ’12, whose role at the School includes assisting students with career development.
In November Adriana Joma ’17 attended the Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. “This experience allowed me to see what positions are currently available in my area and specific job skills required or recommended for these positions,” Joma said. Both Kate O’Donnell ’17 and Kasimira Clark ’17 used Showcase as an opportunity to learn more about the corporate culture of local companies. O’Donnell explains, “The companies provided great information and advice for determining the best ‘fit’ for a career.” Clark shares, “The exhibitors gave great advice and explained what things we should look out for and helped narrow my focus.”
Sarah Petry ’18 found that the practice of meeting with employers gave her confidence. She shares, “I grew more comfortable at each table and less overwhelmed. By the last table I felt more myself and able to better make a connection.” DPT student Jacob “Jake” Fredrickson ’18 had a similar experience at the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase. He said, “I got to practice having a professional conversation in a real employer interaction and that was very helpful!”
For Briana Bernard ’17 the benefits of attending Showcase were twofold. “Clinicians gave insight to what they are looking for in therapists and what kind of [interview] questions they ask,” Bernard said. “Also, it was a good experience of putting myself out there in a professional setting and feeling more confident.”
Dickson Chang ’18 and Briana Valenzuela ’18 emphasize the power of a good first impression. Chang shares, “It helped me work on being personable to potential employers.” Valenzuela said, “I felt like practicing introducing myself to everyone and trying to create a good first impression was a great experience.”
Alicia (Lueth) Wortman ’18 found Showcase to be an encouraging experience. She shares, “It was nice to have a ‘practice’ environment in which to have purposeful, but also personal, conversations. It was encouraging to know that these employers see qualities in us which they’d like to hire.” Patrick Amigable ’18 echoes her sentiment. He said, “I was able to practice being an active listener and inquire in a way that expressed my potential as a future employee.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold