Career Linkages Conference helps students plan for futures

Aaron Mudd

A Career Linkages Conference, designed to help students plan for their careers after WKU, was held Friday afternoon in Mass Media and Technology Hall.

When Chela Counts, an Atlanta senior, attended the Career Linkages Conference she asked how she could turn her various interests and experiences into a career.

Sam Ford, one of the WKU alumni who answered students’ questions in a discussion panel, said that Counts should distinguish herself from the competition.

“I think the story you tell about yourself matters a lot,” Ford said. “We’re not looking for somebody who’s just technically competent we’re looking for an interesting person who brings something unexpected.”

Ford is the director of audience engagement at Peppercomm, an organization that offers public relations and other services. Ford sat in the Mass Media and Technology Hall Auditorium with five other alumni and answered students’ and faculty questions today at 2:30 p.m. The discussion panel marked the close of the Career Linkages Conferences.

Counts said she was encouraged by her professor, Angela Jones, to come to the conference. The conference featured workshops throughout the day designed to help students build job skills.

Counts still wanted to see the closing discussion panel even though she couldn’t attend the other workshops.

 “I’m interested to see what other people learned or got from it,” she said. “I think this is awesome that they’re doing it for free.”

The conference was sponsored by the Potter College of Arts & Letters. It was designed specifically for liberal arts majors, but students of all disciplines were welcome to attend. Jennifer Markin, coordinator of student services, said that about 40 students attended the conference throughout the day.

Austin Allen, a Bowling Green sophomore, went to a workshop that gave students advice on how to market themselves with social media.

“Networking through social media is probably one of the most important things you can do to obtain a job and have job opportunities available to you post-graduation,” Allen said.

At the conference, Allen also attended an interview skills workshop where he learned how to conduct himself in an interview. Allen said that he learned to be honest about weaknesses, but stress what he’s doing to overcome them.

Associate professor Angela Jones encouraged students do a similar thing in a resume building workshop.

“Know your audience, and lead with your strengths,” she said.

At the discussion panel, the WKU alums talked about their professional backgrounds and current careers, which range from entrepreneurship to the public service, from the visual arts to a career in the military.

The panel encouraged students to branch out beyond their major and not to fear failure.

“If you don’t fail you didn’t challenge yourself,” Scott Walker said.

Walker is a lieutenant colonel and the head of the Department of Military Science.

“Once you do fail, learn from those mistakes and come back stronger,” he said.

Lauren Cunningham works as the community engagement coordinator at the ALIVE Center. She went back to school to get her master’s degree when the grant for her nonprofit organization was lost.

“I did not possess the skills and the experience on how to resurrect an organization after the grant goes away,” she said. “It bothered me, but it motivated me.”

Panelists tried to help students by talking about what they would have done differently in their undergraduate experiences.

Instead of focusing so much on visual art Alice Gatewood Waddell wished she would have taken more business courses so didn’t have to rely on art agents to sell her work.

“I think if I had a better understanding of the business end that I would probably be little bit better off financially,” Waddell said.

Counts said that she thought the conference was a good opportunity for students.

“It gives you a chance to step outside the classroom,” she said.