Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Educational Events

OPCD February Events

February is jammed packed with career related programs and events! As students look towards their summers and graduation, the OPCD is providing numerous opportunities for students to interact with employers, learn more about different career fields, and acquire important job and internship search skills and strategies.

Advertising, PR, Marketing Career Field Week (February 4-8th)

Many Wake Forest students show an interest in advertising, public relations and marketing each year (over 12% of the Class of 2012 took jobs in these career fields). To help students better understand these career fields and learn how to get their feet in the door, the OPCD held an Advertising, PR, and Marketing Career Field Week the week of February 4. An alumni panel of industry veterans shared their experience, the dynamics of their jobs, organizations and industries, and important job search and career management advice. Students met the Director of Corporate Communications at Krispy Kreme, the Broadcast Producer for Marketing & Advertising at Mullen and the owner and creative director of full service event planning, design and styling firm. Later in the week, 25 students took a field trip to Woodbine Advertising Agency to speak with professionals and get a hands-on view of life in advertising. Last year Woodbine hired summer interns among the students who visited last year!

Media, Entertainment, Publishing Alumni Panel (February 20th)

Another top career field reported by students is Media, Entertainment, and Publishing; in fact, over 7% of the class of 2012 entered this career field after leaving Wake Forest. An alumni panel of industry professionals will speak with students including the current Editor of Daily Health News, who previously held editing positions at Seventeen Magazine, Family Circle Magazine, and Good Housekeeping Magazine; a Sales Assistant at Disney ABC Television Group who is the primary, multi-day part assistant for thirty clients on the largest agency account; and an Affiliate Manager for NBCOlympics.com, who previously served as the Online Editor for Martha Stewart Living Radio.

Parent Council Round Tables (February 21-23rd)

Just before the Spring 2013 family weekend, over 20 members of the Parent’s Council will conduct roundtable discussions with small groups of students regarding their career fields and paths. Students will be provided with insight and advice from industry professionals to learn more about various careers and industries including financial services, human resources, law, education, entrepreneurial ventures, medicine, commercial real estate, psychology, and media.

International Careers Panel and Networking Event (February 25)

On February 25th, several alumni are traveling to Wake Forest to speak with students interested in international careers. These alumni are also developing a networking group for students and other alumni interested in international affairs. This helpful, entrepreneurial group of alumni will also be available after the panel to network for further conversation.

The College to Career Challenge: How to Land Your D.R.E.A.M. Job in College by Jullien Gordon (February 27)

Jullien Gordon, a high performance coach and consultant (and former student/mentee of Andy Chan), will be at Wake Forest on February 27th to deliver a presentation to students entitled, “The College Career Challenge: How to Land Your D.R.E.A.M. Job in College.” Mr. Gordon has been in the talent recruitment and development industry since 2007 beginning with his work as the Associate Director of Talent Recruitment for Management Leadership for Tomorrow. He is also the author of five books on career advancement, finding purpose, goal achievement, and closing the college-to-career gap to help young professionals discover their life’s work and make their highest contribution to the world through their daily work.

Internship Search Strategy Workshops

The OPCD is hosting Internship Search Strategy workshops every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout February from 4:00-5:00 pm in various locations around campus. These workshops are designed to teach students the crucial importance of internships during college, key strategies to find and secure an internship, and how to effectively market yourself via your resume, LinkedIn and interviews.

Debunking An OPCD Myth

A common misperception among students, parents and faculty is that the Office of Personal & Career Development primarily helps students interested in business or who study business as their major. Contrary to this myth, the OPCD supports students from all backgrounds and with diverse interests. We have a number of resources and initiatives dedicated to students who are especially interested in non-business and non-traditional career fields.

The first method in which we assist these students is by bringing a diverse group of organizations and employers to campus. A recent example is the CIA information session in which 145 students attended! In information sessions, representatives from the organization discuss the opportunities available, the daily work life, the desired skills and attributes for applicants, and logistical information about the application process. Representatives always remain after the formal presentation to engage with eager students who want to learn more about their experience and their organization. These information sessions are a valuable opportunity for students to interact with potential employers and learn more about an industry or organization without even leaving campus. Examples of other notable employers include Teach For America, Gallup Polling, City Year and the State Department.

The second initiative is a pilot program for seniors interested in non-profit careers. A number of seniors have joined Non-Profit Career Action groups in which they meet with a dedicated career counselor to help guide them in the job search process focused on non-profit careers. These groups meet three times in the fall semester to help students prepare for the search process. After each group meeting, they are given “homework” by their counselor such as conducting informational interviews or bolstering their LinkedIn profile. In the spring semester, these groups meet three more times to hold them accountable in executing their job search strategy. These groups help students secure non-profit careers which is often difficult because the non-profit sector does not have structured recruiting and hiring timelines and processes like those in large corporations.

The third resource the OPCD offers to students are Career Weeks. These weeks are focused on unique career fields and are intentionally timed throughout the year to correspond with the recruiting and hiring timelines of the relevant careers. For instance, from February 4-8, the OPCD will be sponsoring the Advertising/PR/Event Planning week, which is an area of significant student interest. During those five days, alumni panelists will discuss their experience, dynamics in their job, organization and industry, and important job search and career management advice. In addition, internship search strategy workshops will be held for students seeking to get their foot in the door in these competitive career fields. Finally, the week will culminate with a 25-student career trek to Woodbine advertising agency to experience get a hands-on view of life in advertising. Last year, several students who visited Woodbine were hired as summer interns!

Outside of these examples, OPCD has numerous other resources and programs to assist students interested in non-business and non-traditional careers, as well as graduate school options. Encourage your student to complete their DeaconSource profile and visit the OPCD regardless of his or her interests as we have the capabilities and resources to help your child navigate the path from college to career with clarity, competence, and confidence.

First Year Students Launch Their Career Journeys

A few days ago, the Class of 2016 attended our mandatory (Yes, mandatory!) orientation program to be introduced to the Office of Personal and Career Development. In order to seat all 1357 students, we gathered in Wait Chapel.  Many of them were exhausted after five straight days and nights of Orientation meetings and fun.  I actually saw one girl sleeping in the front row before our session began!

In order to keep their attention and demonstrate to them our fun and welcoming office, we put together an interactive and engaging hour that involved games, live polling using text messaging, music, videos, and even paper airplanes. Through these, we conveyed our three key messages:

Our first key message: You’re not married to your major. Our College-To-Career Course instructor Heidi Robinson asked, “Why do students dread the question, ‘What is your major?’.” She explained that there is an underlying (and inaccurate) assumption that your major defines what your career will be after graduation. However, Heidi offered a competing theory that your major neither guarantees nor precludes your entry into a particular industry or career field. To prove her hypothesis, Heidi revealed to students the notable careers of recent graduates and asked them to guess their majors via a live texting poll. Students were surprised, and excited, to learn the CEO of Emerson Electric was a Chemistry major and a Senior Sales Representative at Google was a Psychology major amongst others.

Our second key message:  Use all the resources provided and start now.

Following Heidi’s presentation, our Presidential Fellow and recent graduate, Tommy Derry, described two of the most important resources for First Year students:

  • DeaconSource – our central hub for job and internship postings that compiles student information enabling the OPCD to send targeted messaging.
  • The Career Passport – their road map of key action items to complete during each year of their college experience.

DeaconSource and The Career Passport will keep them connected to our office and ensure they don’t miss important information, programs, events or opportunities.

Our third key message: Use all four years to train and compete like an elite Olympic athlete. With the London Olympic Games having just taken place, I compared the First Years’ status to that of a promising athlete hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Just as athletes must train for their events which are four years away, so must students train during all four years and begin their career process now. These athletes have coaches to assist them with their technique and training methods, and the OPCD staff, as well as many other Wake Forest faculty and staff, are available to help students along their career path.  But help and assistance only occur if students ask for it. They must be proactive, take responsibility and put in the time and effort to train, learn and compete, just like elite athletes. Encourage your student to engage in the career process early so that he can maximize his chances for success.

In closing, I explained to the First Years that their career path will be an unpredictable journey. They may not know exactly where they are going or how they will get there, but the OPCD will help them throughout the process. They need only to connect and engage with us – all four years.

To make this point come to life, I asked the First Years to write down their current career and geographic interests (“Unsure” is an acceptable answer) on a sheet of paper. I then asked them to turn it into a paper airplane. Then, as one class, they “launched” their career journeys by tossing their paper airplanes in every direction while we played the song from the movie, Rocky: “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti.

Here is a video capturing this fun and memorable moment:

We are excited to teach and equip all of our students to successfully navigate the journey from college-to-career.  And we’re pretty sure that our Class of 2016 enjoyed their launch experience with us this week at Orientation.

The First Year Chipotle Challenge

A key objective of our office is to engage first year students right at the start of their college experience. We know that introducing first years to the OPCD’s friendly staff and valuable resources in our office will significantly increase the likelihood of them returning to our office when they need help throughout their college years.

At Orientation back in August, we introduced the entire first year class to the OPCD via an interactive presentation in Wait Chapel. To grab their attention and take action, our marketing team designed a clever competition to encourage all first years to register on DeaconSource, our online source for career-related information. DeaconSource enables all Wake Forest students to receive tailored information targeted to their specific career interests, as well as access internships and jobs from organizations who want to recruit Wake Forest students.

The competition: The first three residence floors to have 100% of students registered for DeaconSource would receive a free Chipotle dinner on us! This announcement elicited a gasp from all the students who love Chipotle; a popular off campus Mexican food restaurant.

Over the next four months, we kept track of each hall’s progress on the glass walls of our office and on our WFU OPCD Facebook page.
By November, three floors had successfully completed the challenge! About 100 residents from Bostwick, Collins and Johnson first year residence halls were rewarded for their efforts with a Chipotle dinner in our office this past month.

Our staff enjoyed dining and getting to know these proactive students. Many of them reported that they had already been in to meet with a career counselor or get their resume reviewed.
I’m pleased to report that currently 45% of first years are on DeaconSource! We are thrilled that so many first year students are getting regular information from us to help them with their academic and major decisionmaking, are aware of our resources and have become engaged with our office.

If your student is not yet on DeaconSource, remind them to get connected.  It’s a very simple process that will pay off for them when they are ready. We can help first year students think about their choice of major and how it will connect with potential careers, and we can help them if they want to find an internship this summer. They can meet a counselor at any time – they don’t have to have it all figured out on their own.

TEDx Highlights

I love the following social media highlights from Saturday’s TEDx Event! Special thanks to Stephanie Skordas for her compelling use of Storify to share tweets from audience members at the conference. For the full Wake Forest story on the event and its impact, click here.

[View the story “TEDxWakeForestU Highlights” on Storify]

TEDx Comes to Wake Forest

I have always been impressed by our students’ resourcefulness and passion for new ideas.  Every week, collegiate student groups, clubs, and organizations provide a great variety of opportunities for out-of-classroom, experiential learning.

For the past two months Wake Forest student organizers have been working alongside faculty and community partners to bring a variety of national experts to campus during Family Weekend. Inspired by TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, Lucy Lan, Wake Forest’s student ambassador for the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance, has enlisted the support of over forty student volunteers to plan and host the first annual TEDxWakeForestU speakers series.

With the support of TED’s delivery platform, Lucy and her team have sourced eighteen engaging speakers to share insight on technological innovation, social impact and entrepreneurship. Their six-hour Saturday, February 25th event provides Wake Forest students with the opportunity to learn from an array of forward thinking practitioners, including:

Anthony Atala, Regenerative medicine researcher

Chris Bashinelli, TV host and activist

Lynn Book, Transmedia artist

Don deBethizy, CEO  of Targacept

Samuel Cochran, Solar Ivy CEO and CDO

Andrew DiMeo, NC State entrepreneurship & design instructor

Detta Famiano, Founder of Famiano Design Group

Jacque Fetrow, Dean of the College, Wake Forest University

Peter Gilbert, Acclaimed filmmaker

Natasha Gore, ECHO program director

Paul Laurienti, Brain networks researcher

Jason Manley, Founder of Conceptart.org, The Art Department, One Big Mob, CA Social and President of Massive Black Inc.

Paúl Pauca, Developer of Verbal Victor

Mary Martin Niepold, Nyanya Project coordinator

Carl Nordgren, Founder and Creative Director of Creative Populist, Co-Founder of Minogi, and an Adjunct Professor in Creative Entrepreneurship at Duke University

Chuck Pell, CSO of Physcient

Dennis Quaintance, Weaver Quaintance hotel entrepreneur

Carol Strohecker, Director of the Center for Design Innovation

Polly Black, director of the OPCD’s Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, believes that the TEDx event has been an exciting experience for the student organizers: “they selected the speakers for the innovative ideas they are championing, the spark they bring to the stage and their ties to the community.” The CICE is one of the event’s four co-sponsors.

Student organizer Jake Graham (’13) has compared his experience on the conference planning committee to starting a small business: “We worked well as a team, even meeting via Skype from different sides of the earth over winter break to keep the event going. I think our collaboration with faculty and staff from offices around campus allowed us to consider our ideas with unique points of view that are different from our perspective as students to create a wonderful conference.”

Please encourage your students and members of the Winston-Salem community to attend this fantastic event. To date, over 900 students and community members have registered to attend. The event is FREE for Wake Forest University students, faculty and staff and is $10 for all other attendees.  Attendees must reserve tickets online prior to the event and ticketing is only available at TEDxWakeForestU.com along with up-to-date information on the event program and other important information.

First Years Meet the OPCD

Last week I had the special opportunity to deliver a light-hearted and fun overview of the new Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) to all 1,246 students from the Class of 2015.   As part of the official orientation program here at Wake Forest, our newest students received an overview of the core OPCD resources and began the process of successfully navigating their journey from college to career.

With our twenty-six person staff, our First Year students learned how to take advantage of the variety of resources housed in the OPCD’s five departments:  Career and Professional Development, Leadership Development, the Mentoring Resource Center, the Family Business Center, and the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship.

To emphasize the need for students to manage and take responsibility for their personal decisions, we employed a new audience participation tool to let our audience drive the program.  At each juncture in our presentation, students were shown a set of questions and asked to text a “vote” for the question that they wanted to have answered.  In our example below, over 700 students interacted directly by texting their replies using Polleverywhere.com.

Through our interactive presentation, the First Years learned about where to find the Focus2 career assessment tool and how to track their likes and dislikes on our T-chart handout over the course of their first year at Wake Forest.  Students were encouraged to share their findings with parents, academic advisors, career counselors and other adult fans to discuss their results and possible majors and careers.  If you are a parent of a First Year student, consider asking your student about these tools and their preliminary thoughts over Thanksgiving or Winter Break.

Students also learned about the new credit-bearing half-semester career classes available to all students, with two specifically designed for first year and sophomore students.  Students were excited to learn about the $100,000 in grants for entrepreneurial new ventures and internships offered through our Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship.

We asked the first year students to remember three simple tips:

  1. Start early. By starting early, students can gather the necessary information about themselves and the world of work to successfully manage the career development process.  By waiting, it’s much more stressful and difficult. If your student has questions on where to begin, you can direct them to our Career and Professional Development website, which has many useful resources, including a checklist for first year students.
  2. Visit the OPCD office. By stopping by our new office in Reynolda Hall on the 2nd floor near the Magnolia room, students will quickly learn about the many ways that we will be able to support them over their four years at Wake Forest.  Each student should schedule a career counseling appointment starting in January to begin work on their career action plan.
  3. Register for DeaconSource. All students should register so that we can track their career activity.  In addition, students will receive personalized email announcements tailored to their career interests (which can be updated any time) and gain access to our internship and job listings. I am excited to report that less than a week after our presentation, a quarter of the first year class has registered for DeaconSource!  Whatever year your child may be in, please make sure that they are registered in DeaconSource.

College: Olympic Marathon Training Camp

In my closing words to 400 first year students at Orientation, I asked them to imagine that getting a good job or going to graduate school was like qualifying to run the Olympic marathon.  This would mean that their time at Wake Forest was like being at the Olympic marathon training camp – and they should be prepared to work… and it won’t be easy.

I donned my Wake Forest cap and blew the whistle to call the students to attention (which surprised them since we were in Wait Chapel).  Listen to my pep talk that sets the tone for their four year college-to-career development experience.  Coach_Chan_64k

If your student missed my session at Orientation, have them check it out and talk to you about it.