More than 450 business students interviewed with 40-plus employers in Hawks Hall on February 5-8. Organized by the Business Career Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business, these practice interviews brought together students enrolled in Internship and Job Search Strategies (BSAD 333) with employers in a variety of occupations with an added bonus at the end.
Janessa Hageman, assistant director of the center, said, “This event provides the opportunity for students to practice interviewing in a low-stakes situation. The interview feels real but after it is complete, students and employers can have an honest conversation on what the student’s strengths are and what can be worked on to improve their interviewing skills and résumé. Students have the opportunity to hear candid feedback from the employer,” she said.
Hageman believes that difference makes the interviews more gratifying for both students and employers. The practice interviews are part of the third course in the Professional Enhancement Program (PrEP), which is a series of four one-credit hour pass/no pass courses designed to develop students for lifelong career success.
After her interview, Katelynn Hermsen, a junior finance major from Appleton, Wisconsin, walked out feeling confident. She talked about how the PrEP courses became one of the draws that brought her to the college.
“During my tour at the College of Business, they talked about the PrEP classes, which was one of the main reasons I came to Nebraska. I didn’t know how to set up my résumé or even where to start. These classes give you a step by step process. They make this complex thing into something easy to understand. The classes also give me the chance to put what I learn to practical use. With employers, they give you great opportunities to practice these type of things, which I think is really helpful,” said Hermsen.
Employers saw the event as an opportunity to have open discussions with students on the ins and outs of interviewing. Nicole Cavin, a campus recruiting specialist at Deloitte, was impressed by the clear and concise communications students displayed. She found students could still improve on answering questions when asked about their failures or weaknesses. Cavin explained what she as an employer looks for when asking this question.
“No one wants their failures and weaknesses used against them. What I look for in those questions is to see that you’ve had experiences in your life that you faced with adversity, overcame those challenges and learned from them,” she said. “Articulating an example about how you’ve worked through it shows us that if you work for us, and you do fail, you are going to be able to move past that. You are going to be able to use your skills and experiences to help turn that into a strength someday.”
The BSAD 333 class helps sophomore and junior business students effectively search for, apply to, interview for and secure internships and full-time jobs. The course discusses how to tailor a résumé and cover letter for specific positions, market transferable skills and strengths in interviews, navigate the internship and job search process, make a professional impression at a career fair and maintain a professional social media presence.
Hageman explained how the PrEP courses build on one another to have a student constantly thinking about their personal and professional development. The curriculum focuses on creating networking opportunities for the students with employers.
“BSAD 333 and all other PrEP courses focus on creating networking opportunities for students with employers. Not only does networking occur, but sometimes new relationships are created that can turn into opportunities in the future,” she said. “Several students have received second interviews after their practice interview, some even getting hired later. All of that starts from their first established connection at this event. Employers understand students are learning and aiming to get better to be ready for their careers, so they make sure they are very approachable at this event and afterwards.”
To learn more about the Business Career Center, visit: https://business.unl.edu/careers