Today’s career development offices have organized a number of creative strategies to give graduating students an edge in the job search. At Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, several approaches have proved to be particularly effective, according to Marisa Brown, a senior career consultant with the school.
Career Boot Camp. Delivered in partnership with CPA Ontario, this two-day event is designed to help students develop their interview strategies, build their resumes, and better use social media—specifically LinkedIn—to enhance their networking abilities. Held for the last two years, the event is structured like a typical business conference to emulate the look and feel of a real networking opportunity. Students attend interactive sessions on topics such as creating social capital, developing a personal sales pitch, and mastering business etiquette. They can also join roundtable discussions and listen to presentations by CEOs and HR professionals about job recruitment trends. About 100 current students and recent graduates attend the boot camp.
Planned Happenstance. More of a coaching strategy used by Goodman’s career consultants than a formal program, Planned Happenstance encourages students to follow up and try to build professional relationships with industry professionals they meet by chance in elevators, on planes, and in coffee shops, not just at scheduled networking events. One student who met an airline CEO during a flight pursued a professional relationship after the journey ended; another connected with a contact at a major retailer through a series of encounters that eventually led to an interview and a job offer.
“These encounters happen all of the time,” says Brown. “Our goal is to coach students through the techniques they need to capitalize on chance events.”
Both of these approaches help students think differently about their career paths, Brown adds. “They all want help with their resumes or cover letters, but those are transactional matters,” she says. “We want them to start thinking about strategies to develop relationships, build their confidence, and ease some of the anxiety they are feeling as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.”