Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TSU Career Development Center Gives Students the Big Picture

Corporate Executives and Alumni Entrepreneurs Offer Insight Into Job Market

Now more than ever, college students are seeking to gain a competitive edge over today’s crowded job market. The Tennessee State University Career Development Center will host its annual Student Motivation Task Force (SMTF) program, to provide students with a bit of insight from corporate executives and local business owners, scheduled for March 29 - 31. 

This year, the center will bring professionals from more than 20 companies to conduct class visits, resume critiques and mock interviews with the goal of priming students to chart their career plans far ahead of graduation.

“Encouraging students to focus on creating their career path versus simply getting a job is our mission for the Student Motivation Task Force this year. This is the perfect opportunity for corporate executives and TSU alumni to share their experiences and explain the expectations employers have for success in the workplace,” said Dr. William Gittens, executive director of the TSU Career Development Center.

Gittens explained that while a job is centered on a simple redundant task, a career is normally project-directed and requires more flexibility. Students should be willing to relocate, take on new assignments and work extended hours if needed.

“Often times, students have misconceptions about what employers want and look for as well as what the workplace is really like. In the economic downturn, they must be equipped with the skill sets needed to enter the job market and maintain their marketability as an employee,” he said.

Contrary to wavering opinions, Gittens said employers take note of high grade point averages by making the correlation between success in classroom and success in the workplace.

“Most students should understand that the value they place on their studies shows that they are making wise choices in how they spend both their time in the classroom and their money on tuition.  These natural examples of decision-making also tell an employer that students will value their company’s time and money in those same ways,” he explained.

An important component of the SMTF is exchanging information about available internship and employment opportunities available as well as the participants’ personal accounts of the challenges they have faced in their careers.

“Many of our task force participants are alumni of (TSU) who get to tell students first-hand what they did with their TSU education. Those type of interactions are invaluable to our students,” Gittens added.

Participants like UPS Area Human Resources Manager Tracy Pointer are among the TSU alumni who will share their experiences of transitioning a job into a career.  While attending TSU, she was hired through the Career Development Center as a UPS part-time employee and now handles workforce planning for the Fortune 100 company.

“I believe in the message the Career Center is trying to convey to students with the annual task force. It’s important for me as a professional to come back and share how to make transitions from college to corporate or to entrepreneurship.  This is an excellent opportunity that students should take advantage of on the onset,” Pointer said.  Christopher Coneway, an engineer with Raytheon Corporation and corporate chairperson, of this year’s task force is also a 2006 graduate of TSU.

Last year, task force participants visited 73 classes on campus, meeting with students in almost every academic discipline. Participating companies in this year’s initiative include Beard Property Maintenance, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., Raytheon, Rolls-Royce Corporation, The Pepsi Bottling Group, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Verizon Wireless and Walgreens among others.              
For information about the Student Motivation Task Force, contact Angela R. Davis, program coordinator and deputy executive director of the Tennessee State University Career Development Center at (615) 963-7534.  

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