Employers visit classes at MATC

May 1, 2013

From jsonline.com: “Etiquette, networking skills on college seniors’ plates” — The banquet table has eight place settings positioned close to one another. Crystal glasses crowd the space above china plates, and rolls sit nearby, atop small plates.

But which roll goes with which plate? And which plate with which glass?

“BMW,” advises Margery Sinclair, etiquette coach and author. “From left to right: Bread and butter; meat and main; wine or water.”

That might not seem like college-level work, but with students getting ready to head off to interviews, internships and jobs, schools are setting aside some time – and some courses – to prepare them in ways beyond technical and management skills.

Sinclair is regularly called on to help students; earlier this month, she was featured at a Backpack to Briefcases luncheon put on by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She sees lunch or dinner as a way for prospective employers to wean candidates out.

“A lot can be determined by the way you conduct yourself,” Sinclair said, explaining that if candidates have good manners while eating, it most likely means they conduct themselves appropriately in other aspects of their life.

At UWM, business students can take an entire class on how to land their dream job and how to maintain it. The class covers networking, interviewing do’s and don’ts, appropriate work attire, résumé and cover letter coaching, and etiquette.

Greg Krejci, director of career services at the Lubar School of Business, said 205 students signed up.

“This class is not just fitting for graduates but also for second-semester sophomores and juniors who are looking for internships,” Krejci said. “Oftentimes, the employees that assist with the course are actively recruiting companies.”

Students in the class have been known to walk away with internships and full-time jobs in their back pockets.

“We have some employers that will meet some students at mock interviews and then set up actual interviews,” Krejci said. “We have had students, like those in supply-chain management, saying, ‘I couldn’t have done it without this class.’ ”

The course also devotes time to the importance of benefits, how to properly invest and what ways students can pay off their student loans.

Employers visit classes

Other area schools have similar resources, or schedule special events to assist their students.

Milwaukee Area Technical College offers weekly “Meet the Business” sessions that are informal opportunities for students to have face-to-face interaction with employers, who come to their classroom and have an open dialogue about job openings and what types of employees they are looking for.

“This absolutely generates employment,” said Jenny McGilligan, student employment specialist at MATC. McGilligan said many students have résumés on hand for these sessions.

MATC hosted a professional forum three weeks ago for transportation students where six employers spent an hour and a half speaking with students about how they can be hired in the industry and what they should be doing to be hired.

“Teachers can tell students what to do, but when you get the hiring manager telling you this is what you need to do, all of a sudden they pay attention,” McGilligan said.

Don’t wait too long

One problem schools warn against is showing up for help just weeks before picking up a degree.

Laura Kestner-Ricketts, director of Marquette University’s Career Services Center, said she is not concerned with her “superstar students” who are active early on in the career search.

“I have had students who have had jobs since October, students who have been persistent and devoted,” Kestner-Ricketts said. “Our superstar students are just fine.”

But she is concerned with the students who are just starting the job process and are showing their anxiety.

“It’s the students who are coming to see us for the first time now – that have no internships, never written a résumé – that are having a much more difficult time,” she said.

The Career Services Center has assisted 538 seniors, 34% of the graduating class, this year, not to mention students from other classes. It uses Q&As with professionals from designated industries, speed-networking events, workshops on how to effectively use LinkedIn and more – all with the idea of arming students to transition to the work world.

Career center employees say it’s all part of building a package – education, interviewing skills, networking abilities, résumés that inform and sell. And yes, negotiating that lunch table setting.

Thank-you notes are key

One final word from Sinclair: Send a thank-you note. The recruiter and potential employer are doing you a favor, Sinclair said, and they deserve gratitude.

“Be short, sincere and specific,” she said. “Three sentences at the most, otherwise it’s a letter. Out of 10, maybe one or two send a thank-you note.”

The note draws attention – in a more memorable way than grabbing the wrong roll.



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