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Taking steps toward the future: preparing with the ELCM office

Danielle Weaver
Features Writer

One in two new college graduates is underemployed or unemployed. Young college grads are “heavily represented” in jobs that require a high school diploma or less, according to the “New York Times.”

Millersville’s office of Experiential Learning and Career Management (ELCM) wants to see these numbers go down. Way down. Especially for Millersville students.

ELCM wants to prepare MU students for the future by offering three programs: career services, which aims to help students reach their career goals; academic internships, which gives students the chance to gain real world experience; and volunteer central, which helps students get involved in their community. ELCM also offers cover letter and resume critiquing as well as mock interviews for students.

International Education Week
The job and internship fair was a huge success with over 60 employers!

But the biggest event ELCM holds is Career Week. Career Week is four days of events designed to help students begin planning their future. The events are interactive so students have a chance to ask questions, talk to people, and really engage in planning their lives after college.

“We want to give them the tools they [students] need in their tool kit to be successful in their job search,” says Melissa Wardwell, Interim Director of ELCM.

The first event of the week was called Focus On Your Future, an event designed to make students consider what was important to them in a career by asking the hard questions such as, “What do I need to do to take responsibility?” and “What kind of world do I want to live in?”

Audience members were also given cards with different job values on them (things like “easy commute” or “advancement”) and asked to eliminate values until only three remained. Students cited advancement, security, and challenge as the three most important values in a potential career.

The event Making Social Media Work For You featured entrepreneur and MU graduate Daron Pressley. Pressley talked to students about how to brand themselves on social media, explaining that the things students put online are how they brand themselves and that potential employers are interested.

“You guys are here, so that’s where employers are looking,” Pressley said. He advised students to forgo the party pictures and instead use social media to differentiate themselves from other students.

Senior Emily Diaz-Melendez struts her stuff on the runway.

Career Week also featured a workshop on how to create a résumé that will stand out and a dinner that taught students business dining etiquette. One of the biggest events of the week was the Dress for Success fashion show. The fashion show taught students the proper attire for an interview and the things to keep hanging in the closet.

The highlight of the week was the Job and Internship Fair. Over 60 employers looking to hire or take on an intern set up stands in the Student Memorial Center and talked to students.

“The job fair is the biggest and maybe the most critical for students because networking and promoting skills in order to get a job is important,” says Wardwell.

While Wardwell does concede it can be intimidating to walk into a room full of professionals, she advises students to remember that the employers are there for them: “Employers that hire students and interns are pleased with the preparation of MU students, they wouldn’t show up if students weren’t prepared.”

The final event of the week was guest speaker Andrew Slack, Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA).

“I had no idea what the Harry Potter Alliance was, so I was surprised to find out that it’s kind of a social justice organization,” said MU undergrad Hallie Enterline, who is excited about the HPA chapter forming at MU.

Slack talked to students about patience and persistence and his belief in teaching through storytelling, which helped him when forming HPA.

A big challenge for ELCM is making sure that students are aware of the programs going on around campus to help them prepare for their future. Wardwell describes the turnout for Career Week as “fantastic” and says that ELCM hoped that at least 400 students would attend the job fair.

Students can like ELCM on Facebook (they post different career tips everyday). Wardwell also advises students to check out the graduate school fair on Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the SMC – even if grad school seems too far into the future.

“Students tend to put off future preparation – but you shouldn’t wait till senior year to prepare for your future,” says Wardwell.