Lifelong Learning – Professional Development

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow 

Throughout this fellowship, Danielle, Kristen, and I have been encouraged to take advantage of any opportunities we have to continue to develop ourselves professionally.  We knew coming into these positions that we would be spending the next 10 months immersing ourselves and learning as much as possible about career services and other areas or topics that are beneficial to our development. The amount of time and resources we utilize to participate in these activities is indicative of how much this position and office encourages our growth as professionals.

Between the three of us, we have attended:

In addition to the formal conferences and workshops, we’ve also conducted informational interviews at 3 universities in the surrounding area.  We’ve had meetings with and continue to communicate with over 30 professionals throughout the various offices and departments across Elon’s campus to promote partnerships and collaboration.  Finally, we share helpful articles and resources as we are come across them.

Professional development is important no matter how much experience you have.  What are your suggestions for lifelong learning?  How do you stay up-to-date in your career?


Lots of Updates!

Created by: Katie Smith, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow

You could probably guess how I’m going to start this post.

You would be right.

We’re busy!

The last couple weeks have been chock-full of workshops, presentations, conferences, programs and events, and student appointments. I’ll run through a few here:

Kernodle Center for Service Learning Partnerships and Presentations:

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to present a StrengthsQuest workshop to students who will be facilitating First Year Experience programs for incoming first-year students. The workshop was a lot of fun and allowed me the opportunity to help these future facilitators to recognize their own strengths and the ways in which such strengths can be used for effective teamwork and collaboration.

The following day, Mikki and I both presented at the Kernodle Center’s  semesterly Elon Volunteers! Training. I led two workshops, “Marketing your Service Experience,” teaching current students how to articulate and leverage their community service and associated leadership positions and skills to be viable candidates for jobs and internships in a variety of fields. Mikki presented “How to Conduct an Interview,” helping guide current student leaders through being effective interviewers and identifying the best candidates for leadership positions.

Professional Discovery Week:

A series of 13 informational and educational programs on career and professional development topics, our annual Professional Discovery Week programs took place last week. Programs ranged from tips on networking, to case interviewing, to careers in the legal realm. Approximately 500 Elon students participated in programs throughout the week.

As part of PDW, Mikki and I coordinated our own program on Careers in Higher Education by organizing a panel of three speakers, Vice President and Dean of Students Dr. Smith Jackson, Associate Mathematics Professor Dr. Alan Russell, and Director of Greek Life Shana Plasters. Sixteen students attended, including several involved with Elon’s Executive Intern Program. Each of the three panelists shared his or her education and career histories, as well as advice for students seeking to enter the field.


NCCA Conference:

As well as participating in and supporting Professional Discovery Week, Mikki and I attended the NCCA (North Carolina Counseling Association) Conference in Greensboro last week. At the two-day conference, we attended sessions on a range of topics including resiliency and self-care, working with first generation students, and working with millennials on preparing for careers after college. The conference was an excellent opportunity for us to learn and connect with local counseling and career professionals.

LSB Connect Conference:

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Students share their strengths during the StrengthsQuest presentation

To cap off the week, on Saturday, approximately 50 sophomore students got up early to board a bus to the Downtown Greensboro Marriott to the site of the Love School of Business Connect Conference. I have been working collaboratively with Jane Mehringer, Sarah Thomas, and other LSB staff to plan this conference and was excited to finally see it in action.

The Conference started with keynote speaker Scott Wittig who encouraged students to reflect on their interests and follow their passions. Mikki and I presented next, leading the students through a StrengthsQuest workshop and helping them see the connection between their strengths and articulating themselves effectively in an interview situation and through writing resumes and cover letters. UNC Chapel Hill Senior Assistant Dean, Academic Advising Program, College of Arts & Sciences and General Gary Miller presented next, sharing tips on using social media as a self-marketing tool.

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Students participate in roundtable discussions with alumni and employers

Susan Richardson, a visiting speaker from Wisconsin then led an etiquette luncheon, advising students on gracefully handling interview and professional meals. The final speaker, Gary Tomlinson, a self-described “strexecutionist” spoke to students about effective communication and networking skills. Lastly, the students had an opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions, followed by a networking event, with visiting alumni and employers representing a range of functional areas within the business realm.

The Connect Conference was a fantastic opportunity for sophomore students to gain tips and ideas for professional development early in their college years. Armed with great information, students can be better prepared for their time after graduation.

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As you can see, there are a lot of excellent events and opportunities taking place both within our office and beyond! It’s a busy time for the Student Professional Development Center, for Student Life offices across campus, and for students as well.

NCCDA Conference

Created by: Katie Smith, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow

On October 26th, Mikki and I had the opportunity to join several of our colleagues at the annual North Carolina Career Development Association (NCCDA) Conference held this year at High Point University. NCCDA is a branch of the North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA) and is a professional association for career counselors in North Carolina and surrounding areas. Our supervisor Ross Wade is the current President-Elect and Conference Chair of NCCDA and his hard work in organizing and coordinating the conference was critical to its success. He did a wonderful job.

Dr. Patrick Akos, Professor of School Counseling at UNC Chapel Hill, was the conference’s keynote speaker. Akos kicked off the day by presenting a variety of approaches to career counseling, having us practice several techniques along the way. During his workshop, I met a career counselor from another institution as we shared our life-career stories in narrative form, titled “Amazed and Confused: Everything Sounds Good” (mine) and “The Trained Teacher Who Doesn’t Want to Teach,” (hers). Surrounded by others who value careers as an integral part of life, discussion was lively and enthusiastic.  Akos summed up the values that many of us shared as he stated “the key to happiness, is determining what you do, who you do it with, and where you do it.”

The keynote speech was followed by a panel on career paths in career counseling (a meta-career counseling session?), a lunch/business meeting, and an afternoon session of our choice. Here, I had the opportunity to see Darris Means from Elon University’s Elon Academy present on diversity issues within higher education and strategies for supporting the career development of underrepresented college students. The day ended with a presentation from Rebecca Cooper, a representative from a North Carolina nonprofit career exploration organization, Futures for Kids.

Overall, the NCCDA Conference offered a day of learning, networking, and reflection.  Throughout the conference I was able to connect with independent career counselors, current graduate students, and professionals from local institutions such as High Point University, Guilford College, and Virginia Tech while sharing my own experience as a Career Fellow at Elon. I look forward to continuing to build these relationships and becoming more involved in NCCDA.


Dr. Patrick Akos as Keynote Speaker

Managing Your Future

By Marianne Brigola, Career Fellow 2011-2012

This past Saturday  I had the opportunity to present at the “‘Managing Your Future” conference hosted by Sigma Iota Epsilon, the honor and professional fraternity for management. The student organized conference featured a variety of topics including negotiating salaries, social media, and panel discussions.

Panelists included representatives from LabCorp and Lockheed Martin and two Elon alums


I presented on creating strategic resumes. I was very impressed with the turnout for the event overall, especially considering it was held on a Saturday. Over 50 students attended, including management and non-management majors.  Congratulations to Sigma Iota Epsilon for such a successful event!

126th Annual American Historical Association Conference

Created by Ashley Pinney, 2011-2012 Career Fellow

I was given the incredible opportunity to attend the  American Historical Association’s 126th annual conference in Chicago, IL January 5th-8th. What an experience! I am teaching COE 375 D: Transition Strategies for History Majors next semester and the conference was offering a slew of helpful and interesting workshops that would enhance my knowledge as an instructor. In addition, there were presentations on the Internationalization of higher education and Perceptions of American students and scholars abroad, personal interest areas of mine. The conference lasted four days and I took pages and pages worth of notes but it would be nonsensical to go over everything I learned. Instead, I’ll highlight my favorite parts of the conference experience.

126th AHA Conference!

1) Interviewing in the Job Market in the 21st Century Presentation

A year ago I knew little about career services. Interviewing, crafting resumes, LinkedIn, etc. were foreign concepts to me. During the interviewing workshop at the conference it was cool to see how much I knew about what they were talking about and how much I have learned this year. I was even able to offer participants’ suggestions about how to do successful skype interviews.  The presentation talked about the struggles of marketable applicants in a terrible market. Persistence and networking were points they kept reiterating, but they also talked about the importance of not settling. For example, a person in my group got offered a job at an institution in a big city. She applied because she was casting a wide net but at the end of the day decided that she couldn’t see herself living happily in a city. Sometimes I forget about the importance of knowing yourself and where would be the best fit for you. It’s easy to say “I need a job. I’ll work anywhere.” but the truth of the matter is we need to cognizant of the non-negotiables in our lives, things that would not make us happy.

The presenters shared with the group a few great resources. The resource that will be most beneficial to my T.S. Class is Careers for Students of History. It gives a lot of detailed information about the types of jobs students who majored in history can pursue. I’m excited to use it in my T.S. class!

2) Internationalization of Higher Education

In my training during the summer, I took the Strengths Quest assessment and one of my top 5 strengths was “Context”. I think this talent is why I enjoy history so much. Learning how things originated and how things got to be how they are is something I am constantly doing. For my capstone presentation during graduate school at the University of Virginia, I wrote about the social integration of international students at the University. Attending the Internationalization of Higher Education panel discussion gave me further context for this unique population and how they came to be a staple at most American institutions of higher education. One of the panelists wrote a paper specifically on Chinese, Japanese, and Phillippino students who came to the US to study in the late 19th century and the difficulties they endured due to discrimination. These students (along with tolerant American students) started Cosmopolitan Clubs (the root of our cultural clubs on campuses today). What I found to be incredibly interesting was that education in China in the late 19th century and hundreds of years before that taught Confucianism and prepared students for the civil service exam. It wasn’t until Chinese students came to the U.S. in the late 19th century when they learned science, math, engineering, etc. It was because of the modern education Chinese students learned here in America that helped strengthen China as a whole. This is interesting when examining the relationship of the two nations today.

This discussion also explored the relationships between American students and international students and the importance of integrating students in the classroom. Intentionally integrating these two groups in the classroom has proven most effective to increase cultural understanding and tolerance. Multicultural clubs, fairs, etc. are still important but mixing cultures in the classroom is key and has shown the best results.

3) Networking

In addition to informing people where Elon University is and helping them pronounce it correctly, I met a myriad of interesting and charismatic people with history backgrounds. High school teachers, university professors, consultants, etc. were all great to talk to. I am going to encourage my T.S. students to join a professional organization no matter what they end up doing with their lives. Membership in an organization is extremely valuable and beneficial. I plan on staying in touch with my new friends and using them as resources in my professional life.

Lovely Chicago

Presenting… Our first big conference!

On November 18th, Elon University hosted the North Carolina Career Development Fall Conference and Ashley and I had the opportunity to attend. We sat it on some great presentations, learning a lot from our colleagues at other institutions and settings and also had the opportunity to network with several people throughout the state.

In addition to attend, we also presented a tool-time session on a “Timelines: Reviewing the Past & Setting Intentional Goals for the Future,” an activity that is based on looking at past successes and challenges to help set future goals and develop action plans.

Jim Henson's Timeline was the cover slide for our presentation

Our presentation was mostly interactive, working through the worksheet we developed and having participants share as we went along.

Presentation attendees filling out their Timelines

Overall the presentation went great and we got some good feedback from our group. It was great to meet with so many different career professionals from all over the state in different areas!

Human Fulfillment and the Meaning of Work Conference

Created by: Ashley Pinney, Career Fellow 2011-2012

On Thursday, November 17th, Marianne and I attended the Human Fulfillment and the Meaning of Work Conference put on by GST 360. The goal of the conference was to discuss the issue of unemployment and what the meaning of work entails in today’s society. While our schedules did not allow for us to attend the entire day-long conference, we were able to attend the documentary showing. The purpose of the documentary was to explore the “meaning of work” and to discern if, and how, work can be fulfilling and liberating to certain classes of people. The students who produced the documentary  interviewed Elon faculty and staff and community members.

In the film, Associate Professor of Dance, Lauren Kearns, said, “Work is an identity, it is a calling.” She also described success as doing what you love and getting paid for it. A community member who had served as a soldier in Afghanistan defined work as “doing something you’re proud of.” One theme present in the documentary was the importance of relationships at work. Almost everyone in the film felt fulfilled by the relationships that were established because of their positions. With Professor Kearns it was with her students. For Elon Club Lacrosse coach it was with his players. For the soldier it was with fellow soldiers.  For me, the relationships I am building with students and fellow staff at Elon are really important to me and I don’t think (no matter how much I liked the work I was doing), I could stay in a job where I couldn’t form meaningful relationships.