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Career Readiness Conference gets students thinking about employment

Published on January 20, 2023

Career Readiness Conference gets students thinking about employment

Students gather in the Betty R. Tipton Room for the annual Career Readiness Conference. 

More than 100 students gathered in the Student Center on Jan. 17 for Eastern’s 5th annual Career Readiness Conference. The event consisted of six workshops where students gained career-preparation advice from professionals in a variety of fields. Eastern students were encouraged to network with others and bolster their employability by implementing the strategies shared by each presenter.

“The purpose of this event was to focus on employability and career readiness,” said Jaclynn Lewis, the interim assistant director for the Office of Career Success. “A lot of the workshops focused on relatable career-based issues for students attempting to enter the workforce.”

To begin the event, students of every grade-level convened in the Betty Tipton Room. During this time, Career Success Director Clifford Marrett urged attendees to “step out of their comfort zones” by sparking conversations with one another.

“You may be doing well academically, but what are you doing to become prepared for your careers,” Marrett asked the crowd. He then challenged the students to practice open mindedness, ask questions and have fun while participating at the event.

Cliff Marrett, director of the Office of Career Success

Following the opening statements, students dispersed to the Student Center conference rooms to partake in one of the three available workshop sessions. The Q&A formatted workshops included “Starting your career in the public or non-profit sector,” “Launching your Career in CT” and “Teach for America.”

“My first workshop was ‘Launching your career in CT,’” said senior communication major Jackie Navickas. “We learned about different job openings in the state and even learned how to utilize different tools that can find occupations that may be appealing to us.”

The ”tool”  Navickas was referring to was Uppercampus, a search engine developed by Campus CT founder, Tom Cavaliere Jr. Cavaliere said this tool was created to create a direct pipeline for students who are searching for jobs across the state.

Campus CT is an organization that supports economic development, business retention and the expansion of locally based companies.

“In this post-Covid world, people are beginning to look at Connecticut in a different light,” said Cavaliere. “The perception that Connecticut is dull, boring, small and devoid of opportunity is very quickly dissipating. Now, Connecticut is more affordable than New York or Massachusetts, while still maintaining an equal level of employee talent.”

He also said that there are currently 50,000 unemployed workers in the state of Connecticut, yet there are 100,000 current job openings.

To combat this issue, Cavaliere suggested utilizing a search engine tool such as Uppercampus to help students find job postings, blog posts, news articles or employee reviews. Uppercampus search results correlate to the job, company or field of work that has been entered into the site’s search bar.

“Initially, I decided to come to the event to build my networking skills,” said sophomore earth science major Joe Morgan. “But, after attending Tom’s session, I realized how lucky I was to be provided with the useful job-search website and apps that his company created. I think it’ll really help me create a solid plan for my future.”

Another popular session among Eastern students was Justin Young and Krista Schroth-Bylsma’s Teach for America (TFA) presentation. Throughout the 50-minute session, the TFA representatives interacted with attendees by asking them questions about educational equality and equity within Connecticut’s school systems.

“Unfortunately, even if a school has a few amazing teachers, it is simply not enough to amend the glaring disparities within our schools,” said TFA Director of Local Recruitment Justin Young. “We need individuals who are dedicated and committed to making changes all throughout the system, especially authority figures like administrators.”

During their closing remarks, Young and Schroth-Bylsma also informed students that there are more than 1,000 vacancies in Connecticut classrooms, therefore their primary goal is to lend insights into the lack of diversity and representation across the state’s schools.

Furthermore, the TFA representatives also promoted the organization’s local recruitment strategy. The coalition of educators plans to recruit hopeful teachers within their home states and allocate them to different school systems throughout that area.

For the remainder of the Career Readiness Conference, students were treated to lunch—where the school also provided professional headshots for students’ LinkedIn profiles—attended three additional workshops and participated in a networking social hour. The final workshops of the event focused on entrepreneurship, social media and building your brand, and how to be a successful intern.

“Something I push everyone to do is to try anything and be open to anything, even if it’s something that scares you,” said Lewis. “As long as students go out and meet somebody new, then it's not wasted time.”

Lewis maintains that if students continue to attend similar events, they will be presented with “new doors of opportunity.”

Written by Jack Jones