By Emmanuel Freeman
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University is taking career readiness training to students where they are. Ahead of the university’s upcoming fall career fair on Friday Sept. 23, TSU’s Career Development Center held training sessions at each housing location, on and off campus. The hands-on training sessions were led by executives and representatives of major companies such as Atria, PepsiCo, and Procter and Gamble.
Honing interviewing skills, writing resumes that catch attention, “sharpening your 30-second elevator talk,” and confidence building, were among talking points and tips the students received.
“The training was extremely beneficial, well organized, and very informative,” said Makayla Bracey, after a workshop with other students in their off-campus housing at the Red Roof Inn. Bracey is a junior respiratory care major from Charlotte, North Carolina. “What really stood out for me was the elevator interview, when you have only 30 seconds to make an impression, and interviewing technique on what values you can bring to a company.”
Ivana Green, a sophomore physical therapy major from Chicago, said the workshop was very timely, as she is looking forward to making “a very good impression” at the career fair this week.
“I really enjoyed the workshop, and especially bringing it to us in our hotel,” said Green who resides in La Quinta Inn. “Ms. Sabrina Johnson (CDC coordinator) gave us a lot of information that will be valuable to me when I apply for jobs. In the few minutes that she was with us, she taught us how to be confident and how to present ourselves well.”
The Fall Career Fair, which kicks off at 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., in the Gentry Center Complex, is expected to feature nearly 500 companies that will set up tents and displays, with some receiving and reviewing resumes on the spot, according to organizers. Nearly 250 students have signed up for the fair.
Antoinette Duke, director of the Career Development Center, said the training in the students’ living areas was an opportunity to ensure that students living off-campus get the opportunity to have the same programming as those on campus.
“I think we have a responsibility to meet students where they are,” Duke said. “So, one of the things we wanted to do as far as career readiness and career prep, was to connect with university partners and bring them to the hotels, which is where our students are. The employers understand what we are looking for this week is to help our students become career ready. We connected with our partners, we shared with them that we want our students to be prepared.”
Lynoral Lee, manager of the Atria Paper Can Plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, spoke to students at the Ramada Inn. Her company, which has hired many TSU graduates in the past, is a major sponsor of the career fair. She said her goal is to help students understand the opportunities out there and what companies are looking for, and to prepare them for those opportunities.
“How to present themselves, how to be prepared, what to say, how to dress, that’s what I want to get across to them,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, the message I want to leave with the students is, ‘You are building your career and your future. Always be prepared because there are lots of opportunities out there. You may not think so, but there are many opportunities out there for all of us.’”
Darius Boyd, a business information systems major, who resides in the Ramada, said the Atria manager’s presentation was very helpful.
“It is very comforting that that these companies are coming here and teaching us how to network and getting us to the people who will actually help us get into those companies,” said Boyd, a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, whose ultimate goal is to become a chief information officer. “Actually, just helping us and giving us different tips and tricks to preparing for what employers are looking for really helps us to know what to put on our resumes.”
For more information on the TSU Career Development Center, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/careers/