The Career Center aims to help students develop skills that will benefit them once college is over, and on Thursday, April 14, the Office experimented with a new method of accomplishing this. From 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development hosted an event in their office that helped students improve their networking skills in a real-time setting with alcohol in hand. The Networking Happy Hour was the final event in their Straight Out of College series that was formulated in collaboration with the Hartley House.
With around 15 students in attendance, the event kicked off with Assistant Dean Deborah Pratt, who conducted a basic Q&A session with attendees to allow them to ask about ideal networking skills. Along with the Q&A, Pratt provided tips on the most effective ways to approach potential networking partners. Should we start casual or formal and what would be the best way of breaking the ice? As basic as it might sound, Pratt suggested that when approaching a potential network partner, always start casual and break the ice by discussing something as basic as the weather or traffic. After all, those two can spark a long discussion here in Los Angeles.
As the Q&A session concluded, many students made a dash for the bar or the provided snacks. Students then mingled with each other, as well as staff members who served as practice for networking in a real life setting. As those in attendance helped themselves to an alcoholic beverage and as students spread out across the Office, the networking practice session began.
Career Counselor Katie Nunez, who put together the event and was very happy with the way it unfolded, felt as though the evening was a success both for students and the Career Center.
“Ultimately, the goal of tonight’s event was to allow students to experience networking and social skills with potential employers in a real-time setting,” explained Nunez. “Networking is the silent, yet best practice to have when it comes to finding new career opportunities. It is also an underutilized skill, so it is great that we had such a fantastic turnout.”
Students in attendance were also in agreement that the event was very beneficial to them. “[This event] has made me more comfortable than I previously had been with my networking skills,” junior Max Kaufman said. “I am also a lot more confident in not only approaching people, but also telling them about my previous work and educational experience.”
Faculty master of the Hartley House and Professor of Philosophy Paul Kjellberg worked with Nunez to make this event a reality and served as the event’s sponsor. “This idea all came from a beer tasting event I had hosted at Hartley House last semester,” Kjellberg said. “I always preach the idea to students about what I call the elevator speech, which is, telling somebody everything you may have to offer in terms of skillset within the short span of two to three minutes. Now, what if we find a way to practice the elevator speech in a real-time setting where alcohol is served? Because in most cases of networking events there is alcohol present.”
The Happy Hour and Networking skills event was a success for both the students in attendance and the Career Center. The evening taught students how important proper social skills in a work environment can be and how they can lead to finding positive contacts. Those who have attended at least two of the Straight Out of College events hosted by the Career Center are eligible to attend one more exclusive event on April 29 titled Surfing Career Development Day.