Last year’s research into the attitudes and preferences of the Millennial generation led to one of the most popular student initiatives Barnes & Noble College has launched to date. Career Now, developed in partnership with Why Millennials Matter and colleges and universities around the country, was created as a response to college student preparedness and the need to help them identify, develop and obtain support for their career choices. But the Career Now program wasn’t the only work-related outreach to come from Barnes & Noble College last year. Other attempts to help Millennials in their career goals have been a more personal effort, such as the return visit of Consumer & New Media Marketing Manager Tamara Vostok to her Alma Mater, Rutgers University.
Having participated in previous alumni career panels at Rutgers, Vostok looked forward to the opportunity, but had concerns about how prepared some students might be in their career search. “These are great opportunities to meet and talk with students who are focused on their careers,” she says, “and although they are eager for advice and want assistance, they may be at a stand-still — nervous to take the first steps toward their goals.”
Vostok shared the panel session with other professionals from the journalism, media and marketing industries including a talent broker for the entertainment business, and an alum starting his career path with news giant CNN. “This panel in particular gave the students perspectives of alums that were at different stages in their careers – from just starting out, to becoming more established in their professional roles,” she says.
In the question and answer session Vostok found, as always, that the advice the audience was seeking was revealing. “There were some doubts — ‘Do I really have what it takes to succeed in this industry?’” she recalls. Vostok had the opportunity to explain some of the work Barnes & Noble College is spearheading in student preparedness, and distributed some Career Now information to the audience, a point that was appreciated by Rutgers University sophomore Ilana Shaiman. “There are a lot of students who really aren’t sure what their major should be,” she reveals, “and the panelists gave some great insights into their real-life experiences in journalism and marketing.”
Shaiman also points out that in pursuing a career in fields such as PR or marketing, the choices for students can seem overwhelming. The diversity of the panel helped the audience see the value of developing alternative career paths within the same industry. She also valued the hands-on instruction. “The panel was really great in giving practical advice such as building your profile on LinkedIn and the importance of using your business cards and networking,” she says, adding, “the opportunity to ask questions always gives you the chance to hear what others think and learn that they share the same kinds of concerns about their career search.”
Attending the alumni career panel wasn’t Shaiman’s first experience with a Barnes & Noble College’s career outreach program. She also interned with the company last summer as a blogger, writing articles for the College Juice student blog. “That kind of experience is really great because you’re actually doing the work, in a real-life work environment,” she points out.
On a big campus like Rutgers, the search for career advice might seem overwhelming, but through Barnes & Noble College’s initiatives and University Career Services on campus, the hope is to point students in the right direction for finding the resources and advice they need to pilot a successful job search. The Career Now program not only hopes to assist students in reaching their goals, but aims to partner with career services and experts on campuses to spread their good work and messages.
Shaiman found value and instruction in the alumni career panel and her internship experience. The primary lesson the Rutgers sophomore took away from both experiences? “Even if it isn’t your first option, or in a field you’d perhaps never previously considered,” she says, “learn as much as you can, make contacts and open yourself up to new possibilities.”