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It’s Not Personal, It’s Business” Wait, Yes It Is!

By Jennifer Serra, Westfield State University

We frequently teach our students the importance of networking, making connections and making it personal, but how often are we practicing this? We take the time in our one-on-one appointments, however students at our presentations and campus programming don’t gain that same quality individualized time. We set aside time to contact employers after a job fair and should try to do the same with the students we meet.

Something I’ve done to reach first and second year students in presentations is having them write their name, email and what their goals are/dream job is on a notecard along any other question they have but might be too afraid to ask. I have a feeling I’m not the only one that hears crickets when I ask if there are any questions. I collect the notecards and send them a personalized email within a week. I know what you’re thinking. When am I going to find the time to send out individual emails? However, I only do this with presentations to first and second year students and in smaller classrooms. Since they are settling into campus life, visiting the Career Center is probably not a priority at this point. I am committed to sending them the email and addressing their job or question they had wrote down within that week time frame. In the email, I include helpful links that I reviewed in the presentation and our Steps to Success 4 Year Plan handout. The links direct them back to our website and get them familiar with our online resources. When I present, I usually don’t see students jotting notes down so this is a guaranteed way to get them the appropriate information and establish myself as a resource they can go to for help down the road.

In the Chronicle of Higher Education article Small Changes in Teaching: Making Connections by James E. Lang, he discusses a few ways faculty members can help students’ link course content to the world around them. This holds true for those of us teaching Career Development as well. The best connections and relationships usually begin with an in-person meeting rather than a phone call and with students it’s no different. Presentations and programming get us in the door and from there we need to make the connection. We can promote our resources and social media networks all day long but they first have to see the value in what we’re doing and have to offer them.

As we know, students are bombarded with mass emails. The personalized email is sure to stand out to them! My hope is that the students find the emails helpful and it’s extremely rewarding to receive that response from them letting you know that it is. If we can engage them early on and develop a helping relationship, the end result benefits the entire institution.

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Source
Lang, J. M. (2016, February 08). Small Changes in Teaching: Making Connections. http://www.chronicle.com/article/Small-Changes-in-Teaching-/235230/

Jennifer Serra is a Career Counselor at Westfield State University in Westfield, MA

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