Employers Coach Students Over "Mocktails" and Dinner
By Heidi Butler,
Catherine Fornward had not planned to attend the "Mocktails" reception and dinner at Northampton Community College until a fellow student encouraged her to do so. He told her he had gotten a job through the event the previous year.
At the reception on the Monroe Campus on April 13, Fornward showed the poise of a pro, taking the lead in introducing herself to employers who attended the event designed to give NCC students a chance to develop their networking skills and to learn the etiquette of business dining. Since she aspires to a career in medicine, Fornward was thrilled to learn than she would be seated at dinner with John Alexander, a vice president of Sanofi Pasteur, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies.
Computer science major Darrell Hoefdraad came to "Mocktails" hoping to make connections that will lead to an internship. He recognized that internships need to be mutually beneficial. When asked what kind of opportunity he is looking for, he said "I want to further my skills and to further the company that I work for."
Hoefdraad was glad to meet Steve Sheptak who had worked at IBM who filled him in on the hiring process there. He also found a conversation with Arif Fazil, president of D'Huy Engineering, to be helpful.
Over dinner at elegantly set tables for eight, Lacey Warner, a high-achieving business student, told the employers about the "opportunities to mature and learn important life skills she has had at NCC."
"Mocktails" is one of them.
Professor of Business Karen Britt promised the students that Robert Meyer, a manager at Sodexo with thirty years of experience in the hospitality business, would give them tips on business dining "from soup to nuts."
Indeed he did, offering practical advice leavened with humor, before each course was served.
Click here to test your own knowledge of dining etiquette. A job could depend on it!
The guest speaker for the evening was Jason Manke, director of culture and employment for Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, a family-owned company with locations across the country, including one in Monroe County that will soon be the largest indoor water park in the country.
Manke coached students in how to use social media in advancing their careers, from cleaning up their Facebook pages to making sure they have full profiles on LinkedIn, to using social media to research and contact potential employers.
The latest statistics show that 15% of people who landed jobs in the past year found them via social media.
Students had many questions for Manke.
"What if you've deleted old Facebook posts [that wouldn't create a favorable impression], but they still appear in Google searches?" Manke suggested starting a new Facebook page with a new personal email address and using that email address in correspondence with prospective employers.
"Would you rather hire someone with a perfect grade point average or someone with a lower grade point average who has been involved in community service or other activities?" Manke admitted that his own grade point average had been less than perfect, but that he had served as class president and played sports. "I want more than a 4.0 when hiring someone," he said. "I want to know you care about people."
Caring about people, good communications skills and an eagerness to learn are important at all levels of an organization, the recruiter said "whether you're a dishwasher or the president."
A lot of NCC talent was on display during the evening. Students in the Monroe Business Leaders Club helped to organize the event and greeted guests. Hospitality students provided guests with a fine dining experience by creating mocktails, butlering hors d'oeuvres, and serving the dinner. Artwork by NCC students was on display at the reception, and student instrumentalists provided the music.PPL and PSECU were sponsors for the event.
See more photos here.