Professional Development Week Prepares Bright Prospect Students for the Workforce

August 22, 2017

This article first appeared on Bright Prospect's blog

By Gregory J. Gillam, Bright Prospect

For the past three years, NCAN member Bright Prospect’s College Team has planned Professional Development Week in order to prepare our college students to transition into the workforce. The idea for Professional Development Week was born when members of Bright Prospect’s Business Advisory Council remarked that many college graduates they’ve encountered lack both the hard and soft skills necessary to thrive in the professional world. In addition, some of the staff stated that they wished they had access to career-related resources while they were still in college, and did not want their students to lack such advice.

This year, Professional Development Week was held from August 8th to 10th. The three day series of workshops was open to all Bright Prospect college students from all institutions (community college, Cal State, UC, private school) and years, and they ranged from incoming first years to students who had recently graduated from college.

Workshops were presented by Bright Prospect staff, board members and local professionals. Topics included: conducting a professional job search, writing resumes and cover letters, networking, preparing for an interview, understanding an employment offer, and financial literacy. An HR panel comprised of local professionals from Boeing, Hillcrest, and Fairplex discussed the qualities hiring managers look for in applicants, interview preparation, and company benefits and culture. The staff put on a fun fashion show to showcase the different types of appropriate – and inappropriate – outfits to wear on an interview. They explained the differences between casual, business casual, and business professional attire, and the expectations for different industries. The students also had an opportunity to take a professional headshot for LinkedIn, practice their interviewing skills, have their resumes reviewed by staff, and practice tie-tying.

The students read and discussed an article titled “How Liberal Arts Graduates Can Improve Their Labor Market Prospects,” which makes the case that if liberal arts majors attain proficiency in any of eight skill sets (computer programming, graphic design, sales, marketing, business, data analysis, IT networking and social media), they will double the number of entry level positions they would qualify for.  Students reflected on which of these skills resonated most with them and how they could further develop those skills.

On the last day, small groups of students each went on a tour of a work site in the community, including Technip, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, Hillcrest Retirement Community, Casa Colina, Inter Valley Health Plan, and Pomona City Hall. The tours gave the students insight into different types of careers available in a complex agency and the skills required for them. Professional Development Week culminated in a networking session, which gave the students a chance to practice their networking skills with local professionals from Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and State Senator Connie Leyva’s office, among many others. We’d like to thank all the local professionals and board members who volunteered their time as workshop presenters and as participants in the networking session.

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