On Jan. 27, a handful of University of Maine students gathered in the Buchanan Alumni House for the “Pros Who Know” networking event hosted by UMaine’s Career Center and Alumni Association.
Kate Axelsen Foster, who is the assistant director for employer relations for UMaine’s Career Center, said that similar events have been done in the past, but the event came from a collaborative effort with the Alumni Association after both organizations wanted a “networking event for students.”
The event featured a collection of alumni panelists from different job backgrounds, who came to answer students’ questions. Some of the areas that the panelists represented included education, human resources, healthcare, business and communication sciences and disorders.
“What’s really nice about the panel is that everyone will have a chance to say who they are, what their role is, maybe how they got there and offer a bit of career advice. Then we can offer some Q&A,” Axelsen Foster said. “When they hear [career advice] directly from an employer, I think it has a little more impact.”
Many of the questions during the question and answer session focused on what it takes to land a job and how to be successful in future interviews. The majority of panelists stressed the importance of networking and attending events like the one being held.
“We have a Career Fair next week, so this is a great opportunity to give students some exposure and some practice to learn a little bit about the art of mingling, as well as meet some employers in a much smaller-scale setting,” Axelsen Foster said.
The night started off with about half an hour of mingling and enjoying light refreshments in Leadership Hall of the Buchanan Alumni house. The event then moved into the McIntire Room of the building for a question and answer session with the alumni panel.
Students took full advantage of the networking opportunity with alumni and were excited to hear what the panelists had to say about their career experiences.
“I’m graduating in the spring, and I feel like it was a good opportunity to learn and practice networking for the upcoming job fair,” fourth-year psychology student Talia Sherwood said.
“I have no background in networking skills,” fourth-year international affairs student Jill Hein said. “I feel like it was a good way to practice without it being too serious.”
Students had a chance to earn different prizes through activities such as, “Networking Bingo.” The game served as an icebreaker activity for students to practice mingling.
“I liked the icebreaker,” Sherwood said. “It was a cool way to talk with students and panelists.”
Students were also given a folder filled with useful information from the Career Center, such as how to find jobs on a smartphone with the Careers by Symplicity app. They were also given a handout of the Career Center’s walk-in schedule for speaking with career counselors.
At the end of the night, the students interviewed said they felt more confident, and were ready to network themselves at the Career Fair on Feb. 3 in the New Balance Recreation Center.
The Career Center is available for walk-ins every weekday at selected times and the schedule can be found at umaine.edu/career, or at the Career Center on the third floor of the Memorial Union.
“I think we all need to be more aware of the messages that we put out there daily. Everything we say and do communicates something about who we are,” Axelsen Foster said. “We have opportunities for better or worse to make impressions on people. If you’re kind, I think that can go a long way.”