Suffolk’s Career Fest tailors to diverse career needs

This year, Career Fest was presented over the course of nine days, with over 20 events packed in to benefit Suffolk students.

Events ranged widely to cater to students in different stages in their careers, from undergraduates choosing their major, to graduates networking with post-graduates, Career Fest had a lot to offer in terms of enhancing career smarts.

“Career Fest is usually held in the fall,” said  Director of Career Services and Cooperative Education Paul Tanklefsky. “We try to put the spotlight on students and careers [in order to] provoke thought. It also provides our office with visibility and students are aware that there is a place they can go to for assistance.”

In recent years, and what Tanklefsky refers to as “changing times,” the Career Development Center has put an emphasis on workshops addressing social media and its impact on employment during and after college. This way Career Fest helps enhance “student’s ability to start to leverage their experience and enhance their electronic resume,” he said.

One such event, titled “Leveraging Social Media to Launch Your Career,” co-sponsored by the newly-formed Suffolk University Public Relations Society, was designed to teach students how employers like Fidelity Investments use social media to recruit potential candidates. Grace Kiem and Brian Nowak, members of the College Relations team representing Fidelity Investments, came to Suffolk Law School Oct. 22 and offered tips on how to enhance one’s social media presence. They especially concentrated on LinkedIn.

Photo by Elizabeth Bond

Their first, and arguably most important, piece of advice was to “Google yourself” This way, students know what kind of content is out there that could be potentially harmful to future employment. Making sure to privatize all of your accounts is also important, Kiem and Nowak said.  If students do so, current employers and co-workers alike will not see students constantly updating their professional resume. Red flags could be raised by employers if students all of a sudden decide to enhance skills and add work experience on accounts like LinkedIn.

In terms of social media accounts, making sure to distinguish between personal and professional accounts is a must.

“Make sure to draw a line between LinkedIn and Facebook [for example], or it could potentially create a problem in the workplace,” said Kiem.

When figuring out how to groom online behavior, keep in mind that venting and over-sharing are often unnecessary and frowned upon, and avoiding connecting with anyone and everyone is important.

“Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s important to choose the people you connect with carefully, that way you can grow a strong network, no matter how slowly,” said Kiem, who also advises students to join groups and company pages on LinkedIn. For example, Suffolk University has plenty of group pages where alumni post jobs just for Suffolk students.

While at the Leveraging Social Media event, a student from the audience asked if one can remove content from Google if they find something that puts them in an unfavorable light. To that, Kiem did not have an immediate answer. Jonathan Huang, former systems analyst intern at Fidelity Investments mentioned that although one cannot expunge data off of Google, one can put out more positive content so that it does not appear on the first page. That is the page that leaves the strongest impression on most employers, and often, the only page that they check, he said.

In addition to “Leveraging Social Media”, Suffolk held a LinkedIn photo shoot last week for students who wanted to enhance their profiles with a professional photograph. Michele Rapp was available during the shoot to answer any questions about how to dress for an interview, the workplace, and after-work business meetings. Michael Clarke was the photographer on the scene. He encouraged students to smile and relax along the way.

These are only two out of 20 events over the course of nine days. Career Fest does not lack in variety – from the “Majors/Minors Expo” where students gained valuable advice from faculty and upperclassmen on what career path to choose, to “Career Focus: Options in Asia” where students were informed on the different professional paths they can take if they have a background in international affairs, global business, or Asian studies – Career Fest 2013 packed a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Career Fest continues on this week with events such as “Making a Career of Difference.”