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University of Dayton students gain valuable professional skills training at Career Camp 2021

By Dave Larsen

University of Dayton sophomore Sarah Yaroma plans to pursue a job, internship or service opportunity this year, but she wasn’t sure how to prepare for an interview with a potential employer. She found the information she needed at Career Camp 2021 — a free, intensive professional skills training program for sophomores and juniors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Now in its second year, Career Camp offered two half-day virtual workshops, Jan. 11-12, that included discussions and networking opportunities with faculty, staff, alumni and recruiters from lead corporate sponsor Reynolds and Reynolds, as well as CareSource and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Nearly 40 students dedicated personal time near the end of winter break to learn about interviewing, writing resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and translating their arts and sciences experiences to the professional world.

“I thought I needed a little bit of guidance in starting my professional career,” said Yaroma, a biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina. “I already had a LinkedIn page, but I wanted to understand what an interview might be like and what I would need to be prepared for one. Getting an outside perspective was what I really needed — to get out of my comfort zone and accept the help.”

A partnership between the College and the Office of Career Services, Career Camp is intended to provide students with skills and experiences to make them competitive to future employers, graduate schools and service programs.

“The great thing about an arts and sciences degree is that it equips you with a wide array of skills and abilities,” said College Dean Jason Pierce during his welcome address. “I want you to come out of Career Camp with a new perspective on who you are and where your vocational journey might take you.”

Typically an in-person program that includes an etiquette dinner with alumni and tours of local businesses that recruit University graduates, this year’s event shifted to a virtual format because of COVID-19 safety protocols. Many of the sessions reflected the pandemic situation, offering advice on preparing for both in-person and virtual interviews, proper business dress and professional backgrounds for video calls, and working or interning remotely from home.

“Internships this spring and summer might be a little bit different as we are still with the pandemic,” said Jason Eckert, Career Services executive director. “I’m hopeful that when we get to summer there will be more hybrid opportunities and face-to-face employment opportunities. Nonetheless, a lot of employers are asking the question: ‘What did you do during the pandemic to improve your learning and better develop your skills?’”

Jacob Mantle, a sophomore communication major from Cincinnati, attended Career Camp to improve his resume writing and networking skills. He also found the sessions about creating your personal brand statement and the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method of responding to behavioral-based interview questions to be especially helpful.“I really enjoyed learning about the STAR method and I plan to use it in future interviews,” Mantle said.

Sierra Johnson, a junior criminal justice studies major from Chicago, enjoyed learning about the types of careers she might pursue with her degree, based on a Strong Interest Inventory assessment that helped identify her work personality.

Johnson also engaged with an online panel of young alumni that included Andrea Nichwitz ’17, corporate recruiter at Reynolds and Reynolds; Darius Beckham ’19, legislative aide at the City of Dayton; and Lauren Vanderhorst ’19, senior technical recruiter at Brooksource. She asked them how to navigate your identities, such as being underrepresented in the workforce, during a job search.

“I didn’t think it was going to be as inclusive and holistic as it was, but I feel like I got a lot more out of it than I expected,” Johnson said.

Yaroma said Career Camp helped her acknowledge her current skills and also recognize those that she needs to improve. She advises eligible students to take advantage of the opportunity when it is offered again in January 2022.

“Although you may not have a particular skill coming into Career Camp, you have recruiters and UD professionals at your disposal to answer your questions and help you find a starting point to develop that skill or accomplish a specific goal,” she said. “It was information that I could not get through meeting with professors or talking with my parents. I had to hear it directly from UD and the professionals.

“This experience was something that I will never forget and will be grateful for because of the new relationships and networking connections that have been built professionally as well as within our Flyer family. I think this is something every student should consider.”

Top image: Sophomore Sarah Yaroma discusses the interviewing process with presenters during the 2021 Career Camp.

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