Career program to secure success

Robyn McNeil, Managing Editor

Francis Marion University (FMU) is working to ensure post-college life success by providing students with professional and leadership skills through the Career Connections Program. For a second consecutive year, the Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Career Development is offering the program with the purpose of “helping students develop an informed awareness of career planning suited to each participant’s talents, skills and goals.” “The program is to help students determine what it is they can do to get a career,” Ronald Miller, director of Career Development, said. “All the speakers and all the workshops will have something to offer students of all majors. The goal of the program is to give students tools and different ways of thinking about getting ready for a career or searching for a job.”

The workshops for the program will be held on Tuesdays from 2:15-4:00 p.m. from September to November. Each of the following topics will be discussed per session: critical thinking skills, learning and decision-making styles, developing professional skills through extracurricular activities, networking, constructing résumés, cover letters and personal statements, interview etiquette and professional life after college.

The topics will be addressed through writing activities, group discussions and guest speakers that will include FMU alumni, faculty and employers who have hired university graduates. Miller explained that effective career training is a step-by-step process and although the program is open to students of all classifications, it is preferable to begin seeking career guidance earlier. “We call the department ‘career development’ because getting ready for a degree is not something you do immediately,” Miller said. “It is something, ideally, that you will start thinking about your freshmen year in college.” Devin Kellis, sophomore psychology major, was in attendance for the interest meeting and said he believes the program is helpful because it teaches students skills that they might not otherwise develop on their own.

Allison Smith, freshman biology major, shared Kellis’ views and said the program will give her the skills necessary to secure a job. “I want to learn how to do a résumé and how to act in an interview, convince them that I’m the one for the job,” Smith said. Miller said the program not only aims to build professional conduct and communication, but also to encourage students to become active in and outside of the campus community. According to Miller, many employers favor students who have been involved in organizations. In fact, Miller said, given a student who has a perfect GPA but no extracurricular involvement versus a student who has a slightly lower GPA but has been involved in organizations and leadership roles, an employer is more likely to hire the student with extracurricular experience.  Miller credited this preference to the commitment, dedication and leadership skills that students acquire when working within an organization or serving as volunteers.

He added that it is often through extracurricular activities that students acquire networking opportunities, which are essential for professional achievement. “In terms of networking, it’s not what you know, but who you know,” Miller said. “It’s a cliché term, but to a very large extent…that is true. What you know is important because that is going to get you a degree, but in order to get that career and move up, it’s very important to know how to work with people and a large group of associates.” Miller said the Career Connections Program will likely be offered next semester.

To participate, students must be enrolled full-time and in good standing with the university academically, financially and judicially. Students who attend all sessions will also receive a letter acknowledging their participation. However, those who are not officially accepted into the program may attend sessions with permission from Miller or an adviser. For more information about the Career Connections Program or job and internship opportunities, contact Miller by phone at 661-1678 or by email at