Career and Professional Development hosted the University of Redlands’ first-ever Career Conference on Saturday, February 23. The event, which was the result of five months of planning, drew me and over 150 other U of R students and alumni, 24 presenters, and 50 employers to network and exchange career tips, advice, and insights.
Kelly Dries, the executive director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, opened the conference with some important advice and anecdotes. She urged students to keep working until they find their own way and to use all available resources—a mentor, advisor, partner, or career center—when trying to decide on a path.
“If you’re unhappy, find a way to change that,” she said. “Discover what you like to do and find a way to turn that into a career.”
Before heading to the breakout sessions, Dries shared three key pieces of advice:
- Be open to meeting new people, asking questions, and learning new things.
- Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone by challenging yourself to try something new. Make a goal for yourself and apply yourself to it.
- Make things happen by taking small steps to achieve a goal.
The three 40-minute breakout sessions, led by professionals in their fields, each offered a choice of six topics. Some of these included: building a resume, finding your passion, learning to network, and creating a personal brand on social media. For example, one of these sessions, “How Your Involvements Open the Doors that Your Academics Have Unlocked,” was led by U of R Director of Recreation Andrew Hollis ’12 and sought to teach students how to translate skills from school into those they can apply to their lives and careers. As a senior who has been involved in many campus activities, I found the tips from this session quite useful in framing my future job search!
Following the breakout sessions, Lauren Wooster, the assistant director of the Office of Career and Professional Development, facilitated an employer panel. Attendees gained insight into many areas, including managing phone interviews, leveraging club and organization involvement, deciding what to include on resumes, and finding your passion.
A networking event also provided the opportunity for students to connect with professionals and employers in various fields.
The first annual Career Conference made a big impact on me and others in the Redlands community. As Kelly Dries reminded everyone in the room, you have to take your first step in your path to finding a career—and this conference was the first step for many of us.