The UD Career Services Center and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce recently held a "Speed Networking" event on campus.

Career partners

UD Career Services to partner with State Chamber of Commerce

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9:51 a.m., March 21, 2012--The University of Delaware Career Services Center and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce have signed a memorandum to form a partnership.

Matthew Brink, director of the UD Career Services Center, welcomed the partnership and said that a series of events and programs will unfold to support partnership goals. 

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“The UD Bank of America Career Services Center is honored to be in a meaningful partnership with the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce,” Brink said. “This partnership is dedicated to promoting career opportunities in public and community service that will benefit both our students and the citizens of the state of Delaware."

With a membership of more than 2,000 employers, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce serves the business community through programs, legislative advocacy, communications and publications, as well as services and special networking events. 

“We are fully supportive of this partnership and value our relationship with the University of Delaware Career Services Center,” said Cheryl Corn, State Chamber of Commerce executive assistant to the president and senior vice president for communications. “We see UD students as potential future chamber members.” 

Recently, the chamber and the career center presented a “Speed Networking” program, held Thursday, March 15, in the Perkins Student Center.

Employers attending included representatives from W.L. Gore and Associates Inc., Science Applications International Corp. and Whiting Turner Contracting Co. 

How to network

Chuck James, an account executive with the State Chamber of Commerce, briefed students on how to make the most of speed networking, as well as events not specifically coordinated toward networking. 

“The first thing you need to do in your own mind is to define a purpose and figure out what you want to accomplish,” James said. “You are not just going to exchange business cards. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you won’t know whether your have been successful or not.” 

James said the primary goal at a networking event is to make contact with others and hopefully advance that contact into an appointment for a sales opportunity or a job or other objective.

“In business, we have something called the 30-second commercial -- sort of who you are, who you work for, what you do there and what makes you unique,” James said. “For students, it can be where you go to school, your major and what you are interested in doing with that major.”

Tips offered by James included:

  • Show up on time and bring business cards;
  • Wear your name tag on the right side so that when people shake hands they can see who you are;
  • Go up to people and talk to them;
  • Spend at least two-thirds of your time with people you don’t know;
  • Don’t try to sell your product or yourself, but do ask the other person about themselves and listen to what they have to say; and
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Students gain skills

During the event, students rotated from table to table, meeting with business representatives at each table to hone their in-person networking skills.

Myles Powell, a senior civil engineering major from Yeadon, Pa., who also helped to arrange the event, noted the importance of developing proper networking and interviewing skills.

Powell serves on the executive committees of the Career Services Center Career Ambassador Program and the National Society of Black Engineers.

“Once you sit down and start talking with the other person, you start feeling more confident about yourself,” Powell said. “I feel this experience will go a long way toward helping students to meet new people at future networking events.” 

Nicole Castello, a senior history major from Hackettstown, N.J., said that “networking is a good way to look over the general field and see what opportunities may be out there.” 

Qiaozi Ren, a software engineering graduate student from Shandong Province, China, said, “I’m looking to use my schooling to find work in associated areas. I like the idea of this networking session.” 

Andrew Peng, a sophomore civil engineering major from Media, Pa., said he wanted to get a feel for networking to help prepare for the competition among job seekers in all fields. 

“You’re nervous at first, because you don’t know what to expect,” Peng said. “Once you get started, it gets easier. This will give me something to base my future experiences on.” 

Marshene Henderson, of Newark, Del., a sophomore biomedical engineering major and a Career Ambassador and member of the National Society of Black Engineers, welcomed the feedback from employers offered at the end of the speed networking sessions. 

“I feel like it went well,” Henderson said. “I liked the opportunity to meet with people and I appreciated the constructive criticism, too.” 

Positive response

Joyce Henderson, assistant director of the Career Services Center, said the event helped students to make new connections and learn the “how to” of networking. 

“I was also pleased to hear positive feedback from employers that our students were well-prepared and presented themselves in a confident and professional manner,” Henderson said. “Networking is definitely a skill that is invaluable. It’s what you know and who you know that opens the door for opportunities.” 

Matt Amis, communications manager for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, said that the students seemed to make a positive impression on employers with their poise and preparedness. 

“Once the students got started, their nervousness went away, and they had the opportunity to talk about themselves,” Amis said. “The students who attended took a big step just by being there and getting started in the networking process.”

Amis said the partnership between the chamber and UD has already started to pay dividends to both organizations.

“It has been nothing but awesome for us,” Amis said. We have already been able to help students get internships with us, in areas that include communications/marketing, event planning and legislative and government affairs. We look forward to helping students get internships in the future.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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