Francis Marion University’s (FMU) Career Development Department had its first Career Connections workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 3 to give students tools to be career ready before they graduate.
Dr. Ronald Miller, Director of the Career Development Department, said that Career Connections has been around for the last two years, but this was the first of six workshops for this year.
“Career Connections provides students with career-preparation strategies well before graduation,” Miller said.
Junior political science major Jamal Lightbourne was a guest speaker for the event. Miller knew that Lightbourne would be an individual who could tell others the role that leadership positions and academics have in career development.
“I spoke about career development, student involvement, how to build community on campus and how to efficiently make yourself a better individual and leader,” Lightbourne said.
In the workshop, topics of subject were money, professional development and networking.
“We started talking about money today in a broader context and how to lead an authentic lifestyle,” Miller said. “That’s one of the issues I like to talk about with the participants. Even if you are a millionaire, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a content, happy person. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have authenticity.”
The students that attended this first workshop were able to build upon what Lightbourne and Miller said. The topic of internships came up, and a few of the students believe that internships have pros and cons.
Junior business management major Cameron Dodge attended the workshop, and he believes that what you learn at Career Connections is not likely to be learned anywhere else.
“Even with an internship, you’re probably not going to get someone who coaches you on how to write a resume,” Dodge explained. “You’ll learn a more theoretical aspect of your career here (at Career Connections).”
Sophomore finance major Justin Gaskins commented on the pros and cons of an internship.
“Internships are cool, but they’re very competitive,” Gaskins said. “With Career Connections everyone has an equal opportunity to learn such things you may have learned with an internship, but with internships it’s not guaranteed.” Gaskins believes people should take full advantage of workshops like Career Connections to gain experience.
Dean Ramey explained that individuals who stay in the books while in college never really gain experience. If your GPA is very high but you have no experience, the job will be offered to the individual with a GPA close to yours who is more well-rounded and experienced.
Senior business management major Darius Robinson believes that networking is another key to being successful.
“You have to be social. You have to know other people’s cultures, their languages. Career Connections tells you to get involved … [in order] to get a leg up,” Robinson said.
Career Connections does not take field trips, but they do have guest speakers and offer pamphlets.
“All the guest speakers we do have are local employers, several alumni of FMU, and do it completely for free,” Miller said. “It is great that we have people in our community that are willing to take time out of their own schedules to do this. They just want to give back to FMU and support our students.”
Dodge, Gaskins and Robinson said they noticed that the workshops will teach them to be more aggressive. They noticed that they have to be independent, aggressive and be able to stand out.
“Be able to stand out on paper and in person with how you talk and how you present yourself,” Gaskins said. “I like to say it’s who you know, then what you know. Networking is important, and Career Connections can teach you that.”