Wichita State University Career Development Center wants to grab students when the semester starts. It hosts a Career Connection Root Beer Kegger on Aug. 29 (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., RSC Courtyard), the JCPenney SUIT-UP (6-9 p.m., Towne East, Towne West), and interview days and career fairs in September and October.
We talked with interim executive director Sara Muzzy, student engagement manager Kiley Burris and Kim Kufahl, assistant director – student engagement and branding about the Career Development Center's mission helping students find careers.
When should students start their relationship with the Career Development Center?
Sara Muzzy: We talk to students about applied learning experiences and co-ops and internships, so as soon as they're freshmen, we'd like to get them in here and start talking to them about getting real-world career experience.
Kim Kufahl: Students need to apply and interview for positions – just like in the real world, except these positions are posted by employers specifically wanting to hire WSU students.
If a student gets an internship their sophomore year and finds out this major/career choice isn't a good fit for them – we consider that a success – they can change their major early in their college career, instead of when they are a senior or have already graduated.
Kiley Burris:When you put off getting involved in an internship early, it's kind of shocking when you're a junior or senior and you see all the people you're coming up against and you realize you have no experience.
Get started your freshman year, come in and get help with your resume and do a mock interview.
Kim Kufahl: Start as a freshman visiting the career fairs and getting practice talking to professionals in a networking setting. Learn your elevator pitch.
What's an elevator pitch?
Kim Kufahl: This speech is all about you: who you are, what you do, and what you want to do (if you're job hunting). Your elevator pitch is a great way to share your expertise and credentials quickly and effectively with people who don't know you.
How has Wichita State's zero credit program helped students with applied learning?
Sara Muzzy: This past academic year there were more than 1,100 students enrolled in internship academic credit or zero credit. More than half enrolled in zero credit.
Zero credit internships have helped WSU students a great deal! They can now enroll in internship credit, have it appear on their transcript, get work-based learning experience, and a paycheck.
What are employers telling you about “soft skills” and how Wichita State can help prepare students?
Sara Muzzy: There are a lot of universities across the country that are embracing workplace competencies and working with students more closely to get them engaged. It's not enough to create a resume – there's got to be something behind the resume. And that's the student being able to perform in the workplace.
We have had employers that have said ‘They look great on paper, but then it kind of falls apart when we're working with them or when we're interviewing them.' We see the potential in the students – they just need to polish their soft skills: career management, diversity inclusion, communication, being tech-savvy, professionalism/work ethic, critical thinking, leadership and teamwork/collaboration.
How does the Chung data and the Wichita Community Foundation's Focus Forward program affect what your office does?
Sara Muzzy: We need to support our students and the best way that we know how is to get them in front of an employer that wants to work with them. Keeping these young people here is so important to the city, and the future of Wichita.
Employers look at interns as a pipeline of future talent for their professional workforce, keeping them here, in Wichita, in a career early on.