Expert Gives Seniors Tips for Starting Career

by Patrick McAlister '10

March 20, 2007

Susan Strayer began her Monday night talk with a scene from the iconic 90s film Office Space - "Did you get the memo?" Although not exactly like the real corporate world, Strayer believes the film to be a "prerequisite" to the corporate world.

"There is only one time you have your first job. It just gets better from there," she said.

Strayer’s program "Welcome to the Real World", which was held in Detchon Center’s International Hall., was intended to give graduating seniors some perspective and advice on making how to make the difficult transition between college graduation and the workforce. 

Strayer wrote an entry to her blog about the visit to Wabash. Read her impressions here.

In her presentation, she gave helpful tips for dress, resume construction and presentation during the interview process as well as actively involve the present seniors in various activities and simulations. In one instance, she divided the seniors up into groups and they were responsible for pitching their newly designed electronic device to an electronics retailer.  

Much like that new electronic device, Strayer sees job applicants as a brand. She pointed out that a reason the iPod sells so better than other generic MP3 players is because of the aggressive marketing campaign waged by Apple. Strayer encouraged the students to focus on what makes them stand out above the other job applicants. Students were told to make themselves into a brand of sorts.

Other advice included proper social etiquette with co-workers both at and away from the office, some of the pitfalls of the first three months on the job, and social networking. Strayer put in a strong plug for, a networking site dedicated to young professionals. 

"Opportunities like this teach you preparation skills you might not necessarily think about," said Schroeder Center director Scott Crawford. "As you go through your job search, as you go through your planning process, you may be doing things wrong. Therefore it’s important to get some advice just find out the right way to go about selecting your career."

Student reaction to Strayer’s interactive program was very positive. "I thought it was really helpful," said Ryan Stephens ’07. "Programs like this give you insight on what happens after graduation, because you’ve never been there before."

Some students saw it as a motivation to begin to look at the next part of their life. "I thought this program brought really practical knowledge," said Adrian Starnes ’07.  "I’m someone who doesn’t really know what he wants to do next year, so this program was helpful in motivating me to get on it before graduation."

Although Strayer see’s some similarities between the satirized Office Space and the corporate world, her advice will hopefully go a long way helping prevent Wabash men from the same fate as the movie’s star Peter Gibbons.

"I think a lot of people overlook the job search process," said Strayer. "They don’t think about what comes next until it happens and then say ‘oh no, what do I do now?’ Being proactive is the best ammunition you can have. Pro-activity is the key."


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