Office of Career Services: Working Professional Career Bootcamp

by Darren Pagan, a Part Time MBA student at the Baltimore campus who will be graduating in May 2019.

This spring semester the Smith Office of Career Services (OCS) hosted a Working Professional Career Bootcamp in the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland, College Park. The day included a talent acquisition panel, a strategy session, discussing personal statements and resumes with a company executive, a presentation regarding developing your network and diversifying your network, a speed networking session between students and executives, and concluded with a “lessons learned” review and short-term/long-term goals discussion with company executives. All of the executives in attendance were matched with students based on student industry or skill-based interests, allowing students to receive advice from executives in highly relevant companies and job type.

The day kicked-off with a talent acquisition panel, focusing on how students should position themselves for the jobs they want. The panelists included Ms. Rachel Norton (Total Wine & More), Ms. Becky Natiello (Walker & Dunlop), and Ms. Sherika Shaw Ekpo (U.S. Digital Service). The group entertained questions regarding how talent acquisition has changed, how technology has impacted recruitment, the benefits of leveraging an employee referral, and the importance of finding a cultural fit. Regarding the last topic, Ms. Becky Natiello stated that “we can teach you how to do a role, but having that personality is more important than your GPA or resume.” Ms. Sherika Shaw Ekpo later discussed how to effectively answer the “tell me about yourself” preliminary interview question, conveying the importance of discussing personal passions and how they relate to the job/mission you are applying for. Both of these questions led directly into the student-executive session.

Following the panel, students in units ranging from 2-4 students were grouped with an executive in a field, industry, or functional area of interest. Companies ranged from financial services firms such as Capital One, to computing firms (Oracle Corporation and IBM), Consulting firms (Gartner, Inc. and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited), and real-estate providers (CoStar Group). Students were provided the opportunity to enhance their personal statements, given advice on tailoring resumes, and advised regarding making career shifts. Second year part-time MBA candidate Derek Davis affirmed “the one-on-one session provided tremendous insight into how I can differentiate myself from other applicants in my desired field. My partnered alumni had experience making an industry shift and was helpful in sharing pertinent tips to better market myself.”

The event progressed into a networking presentation by part-time MBA career consultant Julie Neill and a “lessons learned/putting knowledge to practice” period between students and their paired executive. These conversations, while again informal, allowed students to develop their career roadmap, receive advice regarding expanding their network, and create actionable goals professionally. While many of the students attended the Career Bootcamp to chisel their professional image, others found the day to be extremely helpful in uncovering future opportunities with some of the executives and firms in attendance. Second year part-time MBA candidate Mark Costello confirmed “it was great to actually map out the connections that I do have; it helped show gaps in my network and how I can go about making new professional relationships.”

This was the first Career Bootcamp held by the Office of Career Services. However, based on the feedback of students and executives, the event paid immediate dividends for current students. OCS is devoted to matching students, based on their skills and ambitions, with the perfect career fit, in addition to helping students develop the practices needed in the