The pandemic couldn’t stop students from networking with employers

Liv Colón | Fall 2021

As the world learns to navigate the uncertain times amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Purdue Fort Wayne’s Career Development Center makes adjustments to keep networking and job recruitment assistance available to students.

Located on campus in Kettler Hall room 109, the Career Development Center provides a wide variety of services to students and alumni. The center hosts events that provide networking opportunities such as job or internship fairs and career workshops.

In adherence to COVID-19 restrictions, some events held by the Career Development Center have shifted from in-person to online only.

Assistant Director of the Career Development Center Tracey Hanton said she is still trying to figure out how to navigate the COVID-19 restrictions, but she acknowledges how these changes affect students differently.

“It’s been great for introverts, but for extroverts, it distracts from networking opportunities,” said Hanton, adding her main goal is to help students develop career readiness and networking skills as well as pinpointing what competencies students are lacking as they gear up to enter a career.

“When I think of everything that students need, in terms of looking for a job, I really think of it as a toolbox. I think of all of the pieces really going in to make up that toolbox,” said Hanton, explaining the “toolbox” is composed of the skills and information students learn as they participate and attend events.

Hanton said she believes successful networking happens when students take initiative to make
connections.

“A lot of times the opportunities aren’t just going to be there, you kind of have to go and search them out,” said Hanton, who has been helping students prepare to enter the workplace since 2008.

Hanton said she encourages students to start preparing for their future careers as early as the end of high school.

For first-year students, Hanton said she recommended researching the Freshman Leadership Retreat. Hanton said this event helps students learn practical skills that involve communication and team building– important skills to learn for communicating with employers and co-workers.

Hanton said she believes networking and communicating with employers is a personal responsibility of each student to take ownership of. While the Career Development Center offers opportunities to network with employers, Hanton said ultimately it is up to each student to show employers what they would contribute to the workplace.

Each year the Career Development Center hosts the Mastodon Internship Fair. Hanton said the fairs are excellent for students to showcase the networking skills they have learned and to seek out new opportunities. 24 employers were set to attend the virtual event on Handshake in the fall of 2021 to recruit students for internships, co-ops and jobs.

Students can find information on all events hosted by the Career Development Center on PFW’s events calendar. Students can connect on Handshake for free by registering.

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